Fr. Bill Moisant, pastor of Resurrection Parish, Tualatin, speaking in the group discussion said he heard synod participants yearning for more unity and positive change as a eucharistic community. (Kristen Hannum/Catholic Sentinel)
Fr. Bill Moisant, pastor of Resurrection Parish, Tualatin, speaking in the group discussion said he heard synod participants yearning for more unity and positive change as a eucharistic community. (Kristen Hannum/Catholic Sentinel)
The West Portland, Suburban, Vicariate met at the St. Anthony Parish Hall in Tigard Wednesday, May 4, to share the results of their member parishes’ synod meetings.

Parts of the conversation would have filled any Catholic listener with a warm reassurance, in particular the fact that parishioners in all of the vicariate’s parishes in attendance said the sacraments fill them with life and joy, as does their parish community and “the beauty of being filled with the Holy Spirit,” as Melissa Hanifan from Our Lady of the Lake Parish put it.

Hanifan, a pastoral council member, said participants spoke about how homilies, church ministries and gathering as a community brought life and joy. Being able to watch Mass online and active young families in the parishes brought joy.

Wounds

Participants from the parishes also agreed on the wounds they felt from the church, specifically the lack of ordination for women to the diaconate and other leadership roles. There was concern about the church’s lack of welcome for the LGBTQ community.

“We’re poorer for driving them away,” Sarah Morris, pastoral council chairperson at St. Clare Parish in Portland, quoted a participant as saying.

The reports included mentions of hurt voiced for the lasting impact of the sexual abuse scandal, the lack of welcome for the divorced, the lack of married priests and a lack of support for Pope Francis from some of the hierarchy dividing the church.

Hopes

Participants felt the Holy Spirit’s call for more scripture education and getting the word out about all the church does in service. They felt the church would be strengthened by constant prayer, more retreats, a parish office that was always open, and more encouragement for vocations, especially in the Spanish community.

The parishes imagined a church with a more pastoral annulment process and stronger faith formation.

Group discussions

There was widespread agreement on the various themes — to the point that when Father Bill Moisant, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Tualatin, spoke, he said he could abbreviate his remarks since those speaking earlier had already listed so much of what Resurrection parishioners shared as joys, wounds and hopes for the church.

Miriam Marston, faith formation director at St. Anthony and the meeting’s facilitator, asked the groups to reshuffle themselves into four tables for discussion about what they had heard. Representatives at the tables were tasked to determine and write up the five major points they had heard in the parish reports.

Those succinct points would then be submitted to the archdiocese, which will compare them with the other vicariates’ reports.

At the end of the meeting, Carmen Gaston, director of mission advancement for the archdiocese, thanked participants for their time. She said Archbishop Alexander Sample felt this listening process was crucial.