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Synod concludes, work begins

After more than a year of feedback, study, prayer and discernment, the final document detailing the unifying vision, five priorities and 21 goals for future ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans was pored over this week by more than 200 priests at the annual Priests’ Convocation.

The final text culminating the work of the Ninth General Synod of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (see page 3 to read the entire document) was signed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond and members of the Synod Leadership Team on Aug. 25, the Feast of St. Louis King of France, patron of the archdiocese.

In promulgating the synod document, Archbishop Aymond thanked members of the leadership team for their work and said the results would help steer the archdiocese’s course of ministry for the next three to five years.

Holy Spirit was heard

“I really believe this in faith that it is through you, through others and through the process that we have listened to the Holy Spirit,” the archbishop told the leadership team before signing the document. “Thanks to God for giving us the Spirit, and thanks to you for being open to the Spirit for allowing us to look at a vision for the next three to five years.”

The priests met Sept. 15-17 to discuss specific ways the archdiocese could achieve the priorities and goals outlined in the plan.

“This was a very important conversation,” Archbishop Aymond said. “The goals are general, so I hope this will help us put some flesh to the bones in how we can achieve these goals.”

Goals enflesh unifying vision

The synod’s unifying vision – “Encountering Jesus, Witnessing with Joy” – and the five major priorities already were announced on May 24, Pentecost Sunday. Newly promulgated were 21 specific goals that fall under the five priorities.

Archbishop Aymond said the two-step process was needed because of the increased level of specificity in identifying the goals.

“They took longer because we were digging more deeply into the weeds and finding specific ways in which we can accomplish the priorities,” he said. “The goals are tangible and measurable.”

The archbishop said he hoped every parish, school and Catholic institution would rally behind the plan, which he said is a living document “not etched in stone.”

“As I look at what we’re setting out to do, many of the details are not yet finalized, but they point us in a very positive direction to make the local church stronger in faith and  more committed to Christ,” Archbishop Aymond said. “For those of us in leadership, we realize we must go out in a spirit of evangelization. We cannot wait for those who have gone astray to come to us. We must find them and go to them.”

Refocus and energize

In releasing the 21 goals, Archbishop Aymond wants to reassure pastors that his intention is not to place more into their already busy pastoral schedules.

“When you look at the document, one might say, ‘We have to do all this work,’ but in reality, it’s continuing much of the work we’re doing now, but with a different focus and a different energy and a different emphasis,” Archbishop Aymond said. “We are going to need some people to help us do that, and some of that responsibility is going to fall upon our laity. We’re going to ask pastors to appoint someone to help us initiate some of these endeavors. I believe there’s going to be a positive response.”

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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