Synodality through a Eucharistic Lens

Eucharist and Synodality are important and related practices of the Church. This article contends that the practice of Eucharist at the local level can either enhance or inhibit our growth as a synodal church with an appropriate synodal spirituality. To achieve this, the article reviews the nature of synodality, and then considers three key aspects of synodality (communion, participation and mission) in their eucharistic enactment

Synodality - Eucharist - Communion - Participation - Mission
Edward Foley
Cover of InFormation 2022 Number 1, Spring

InFormation 2022 No. 1 : The Spirit in the Assembly, by Austen Ivereigh

InFormation Bulletins - InFormation 2022 No.1 Spring

"Unlike synods in other traditions, the Roman version is consultative. Final responsibility for discernment and the decisions that flow from it lies with the bishops and ultimately the pope, who are assisted in their discernment by the body of believers. Or so the theory goes. In practice, before this pontificate any pre-synod consultation of the People of God was at best perfunctory, and the synods themselves were less exercises in discernment than confirmation of existing belief and practice. That has changed under Francis."

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Ivereigh, Austen
Formation Resources: 
Image from InFormation 2018 Number 3, Fall

InFormation 2018 No. 3 : Book Review, However Long the Night : Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis, by Noreen Neary, SC

InFormation Bulletins - InFormation 2018 No.3 Fall

"However Long the Night, published by LCWR, is a series of essays by ten sisters and the representatives of a lay group that supports the sisters which examine the six-year investigation and its learnings from diverse perspectives. ... Just as the women religious directly involved in this conflict were discreet and respectful of the Church’s hierarchical authorities, this book is not an unbalanced recitation of wrongs. Rather, it is a series of thoughtful reflections on the experience, on what was learned through the process of honest dialogue in the hopes of a just reconciliation, and how the process can be used by others to resolve conflict."

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Neary, Noreen, SC


Religious women and men take a vow of obedience that binds them to those with whom they share life. In the contemporary experience, discernment - both individual and communal - is extremely difficult and has few, if any, parameters. The webinar will explore a model of communal discernment that is centered in communion ecclesiology and that offers religious a model for engaging in communal discernment.

Sister Judith Schaefer, O.P., Ph.D., is currently serving as president of Cotter Schools (grades 7-12) in Winona, Minnesota. Sister Judith is on leave from Saint Mary's University of MN where she previously served as Professor and Chair of Theology for 10 years, and as University Dean for University Affairs for three years. Sister Judith is a professed member of the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation, which has its Motherhouse in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. Sister Judith completed her doctoral work at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, in Theology and Society, with an allied discipline in psychology. She has a Masters of Divinity degree from Aquinas Institute in Saint Louis, MO, and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in Chicago. Sister completed her undergraduate work in elementary education and received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL.

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Every person encounters the mystery of suffering in his or her life and in the lives of loved ones. Those of us who minister in the Church come face to face with this mystery often, as we are called to be present to those who suffer in different ways. Vowed religious are affected by the reality of suffering within religious community. This webinar will address the challenges of talking about God and talking to God in times of suffering. We will draw upon four dimensions from the Judeo-Christian tradition that can serve as resources for us in grappling with the mystery of suffering.

Robin Ryan, CP, PhD is a Passionist priest and theologian who serves as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Master of Arts in Theology Program at Catholic Theological Union. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America. He is the author of numerous articles and recordings on theological and spiritual topics. He edited and contributed to the book Catholics on Call: Discerning a Life of Service in the Church (Liturgical Press, 2010). He is the author of God and the Mystery of Human Suffering: A Theological Conversation Across the Ages (Paulist Press, 2011). He recorded a series of CDs on the topic of God and the Mystery of Human Suffering for Now You Know Media. He is the author of the forthcoming book Jesus and Salvation (Liturgical Press, April 2015). He is also a contributor to and English-language editor of the forthcoming Diccionario de la Pasión (Madrid, San Pablo).

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This webinar will weave the Universe Story and the Paschal Mystery using art, poetry and theological reflection. The Great Flaring Forth of the universe is an invitation to contemplate how Divine Mystery enfolds the cosmos. On Earth Day and during the Easter Season, participants in this webinar will ponder and celebrate the mysteries of Deep Incarnation, Kenosis, Deep Resurrection and the Cosmic Story.

Linda Neil, SCJ, is a member of the Albany Province of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondolet.  An experienced educator who holds Masters’ degrees in Earth Literacy and in Religious Studies, Linda has presented programs created to inform minds, engage hearts, fire passion for transformation, and celebrate our relationship with the Earth Community in a variety of retreat centers and other venues.

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In this complex time of ever-increasing diversity, we are continually faced with the possibilities of encounter and isolation. The natural tendency to relate only with people who share our cultural values and religious beliefs unconsciously reinforces ethnocentric isolationism, a room full of mirrors. Francis’ challenge to encounter the “other” – the one who looks, acts, and believes differently – moves us beyond our comfort zone to a greater self-awareness and the openness to see the world from another’s point of view. Intentional relationships with people of other races and cultures is the only way to diffuse fear, challenge stereotypes, and change prejudices. This webinar will examine the phases of this journey towards encounter and its implications for mission in today’s world, divided by walls of fear and mistrust. Join us in sharing the wisdom of our experiences and how we can together build bridges for respectful encounter and intercultural relationships.

Dr. Arturo Chávez is the President of MACC, the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas. Since 2007, Dr. Chávez has led the organization into its current transition from a Cultural Center to a Catholic College that offers B.A. and M.A. degrees in Pastoral Ministry. The unique degree plans are offered bilingually to meet the growing needs of Latinos for higher education, especially for service in faith communities. Prior to MACC, he worked in a variety of ministries – as a teacher, youth minister, a chaplain to the incarcerated, and a community organizer. He founded a nonprofit youth organization called JOVEN and was instrumental in establishing other faith-based partnerships to address the urgent needs of families who are poor and disenfranchised. Nationally recognized for his efforts to combat racism and poverty, President Obama appointed him to the White House Council on Faith-based partnerships. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA recognized him as “…a national champion of the poor” with the “Keep the Dream Alive Award” in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The National Association on Lay Ministry recently bestowed the San Juan Diego Award to recognize his years of service to the Church. Dr. Chávez holds a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies, from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology, with a focus on the relationship between religion and social change.

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En este tiempo complejo de creciente diversidad, nos enfrentamos continuamente con las posibilidades de encuentro o aislamiento. La tendencia natural de relacionarnos solo con la gente que comparte nuestros valores culturales y creencias religiosas refuerza inconscientemente el aislamiento etnocentrista, un cuarto lleno de espejos. El reto del Papa Francisco de encontrar al “otro” – el que ve, actúa y cree de manera diferente – nos mueve fuera de nuestra zona de confort a una mayor autoconciencia y apertura para ver el mundo desde el punto de vista del otro. Las relaciones intencionales con gente de otras razas y culturas es la única manera de disipar el miedo, retar los estereotipos y cambiar los prejuicios. Este webinar examinará las fases de este recorrido hacia el encuentro y sus implicaciones para la misión en el mundo de hoy, dividido por muros de miedo y desconfianza. Únase a nosotros a compartir la sabiduría de nuestras experiencias, y cómo todos juntos podemos construir puentes para un encuentro respetuoso y unas relaciones culturales.

El Dr. Arturo Chávez es el Presidente de MACC, Mexican American Catholic College en San Antonio, Texas. Desde el año 2007, el Dr. Chávez ha encabezado la organización en la transición de un Centro Cultural hacia un Colegio Católico que ofrece carreras de Licenciatura y Maestría en Ministerio Pastoral. Las carreras bilingües son únicas para atender las necesidades latentes de los latinos para su educación superior, especialmente para las comunidades en servicio de la fe. Antes de MACC, ha sido profesor, ministro de jóvenes, capellán para los encarcelados y un anfitrión en su comunidad. Fundó una organización juvenil sin fines no lucrativos llamada JOVEN y fue clave en establecer otras asociaciones basadas en la fe para abordar las necesidades urgentes de las familias pobres y privadas de sus derechos civiles. Reconocido nacionalmente por sus esfuerzos de combatir el racismo y la pobreza, el Presidente Obama lo apunto a un consejo de la casa blanca sobre asuntos de colaboración con organizaciones religiosas. Catholic Charities USA le reconoció como ´´…un campeón nacional de los pobres´´ con el ´´Keep the Dream Alive Award´´ en el año de 2010 en honor al Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. El Dr. Chávez tiene un Doctorado en Estudios Religiosos y Teológicos de la Universidad de Denver y la Escuela de Teología Iliff, con un enfoque en la relación entre la religión y el cambio social.

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As Church, we have put the “waiting” back into Advent through catechetical efforts to counteract a consumer-driven Christmas season. The amount of time that is dedicated to the joyous news of the Incarnation, however, is disproportionately small in comparison to the overwhelming gracious mystery of God-among-us. The unfolding of liturgical time after Epiphany is compacted and we return swiftly to “ordinary time.” This webinar looks to popular religious practices of the season as sources for theologizing resistant hope in troubled times. The wisdom traditioned through these performative texts, often rooted in scripture, and their ways of structuring time and space before and after Christmas, offer opportunities to imagine new ways of being and acting. With eschatological and cosmological implications, these celebrations of life amidst struggle affirm the good news, and respond to the gift of the Incarnation.

Carmen Nanko-Fernandez, Ph.D.
Professor of Hispanic Theology and Ministry, Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.

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Sr. Sallie Latkovich will lead us in an exploration of “spirituality” and “holiness” in the context of the Christian Lenten journey.  She will reflect on the events of the Triduum, a three-day commemoration of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection, and how they form Catholic/Christian spirituality and act as catalysts to renew the faith community year in and year out.

Sallie’s experience and interest is in adult education and faith formation, particularly with lay men and women who are serving or seek to serve God’s people. She teaches Biblical Foundations of Spirituality and The Bible for Ministry at Catholic Theological Union. Having accompanied groups to the Holy Land since 1990, Sallie is the Director of CTU’s Biblical Study and Travel Program.

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Formation Resources: 


On Thursday, September 13 the RFC hosted a webinar discussion with the editors of and an author in the book, In Our Own Words: Religious Life in a Changing World.

Sarah Kohles, OSF, Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, & Tracy Kemme, SC

Editors of and an author in the book, In Our Own Words: Religious Life in a Changing World joined the RFC for this webinar conversation. 

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On Wednesday, March 20, 2019 the RFC hosted a Lenten webinar presentation and discussion with Massimo Faggioli, PhD. He gave an overview of his current work on the Catholic Church and sex abuse.

Massimo Faggioli, PhD

Massimo is a church historian and is a current Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University and contributing writer to Commonweal magazine. He has served on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) from 2009 to 2016, where he was the founding director of the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship (2014-2015).

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Fr. Dan Horan discusses his recent book on this encyclical by Pope Francis titled Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad: A Faith Formation Guide.

Daniel Horan, OFM

He is a Franciscan Friar, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and the author of numerous articles and twelve books, including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Influence on his LifeThought, and Writing (2014) and, most recently, Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad (2019).

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In this webinar presentation, Father John Tourangeau engaged several topics related to clergy sexual abuse and the role and dynamics of power. He gave a brief sketch of the historical considerations and then explore the critical need for greater awareness of the dynamics of communal power through honest dialogue and ongoing education. How do we oppose the culture of power and clericalism in the formation process, for example? Fr. John will also covered how power is informed by Gospel values and Christian mission.

Praxes to discussed include: welcoming, respectful, and loving community; humility and understanding; integrity, honesty, and truth; responsibility, perseverance, and self-denial; servant leadership; and healthy living and wellness.

Fr. John is a member of St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, WI. Fr. John completed his Ph.D. in Organization Development at Benedictine University (Lisle, IL) in June 2017, and currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work at New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM). He also supports local communities in the expansion of mental health and pastoral counseling services as a master-level (MSW) Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC). Fr. John holds a Master of Divinity in Missiology from Catholic Theological Union (Chicago, IL) and an MBA from the University of Phoenix (Albuquerque, NM). He travels to continue his national clergy research, present his findings, and speak on the ever-popular topic of heaven about which he has written a book and a companion spiritual journal.

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From Center to Periphery: Relocating the Prophetic Witness of Religious Life at one of the locations throughout the United States listed below. In these gatherings, we will celebrate our heritage, reflect with expert and engaging presenters and with each other on the implications of our call to mission in the 21st century, and continue our lifelong formation as women and men challenged, in Pope Francis’ words, to fly from the nest to the frontiers, to wake the world.

Richard Gaillardetz, PhD, Joseph Professor of Theology at Boston College;
Presentation title: From Center to Periphery: Relocating the Prophetic Witness of Religious Life

Caroljean Willie, SC, PhD, NGO representative at the United Nations for the Sisters of Charity Federation;
Presentation title: Called to Live on the Margins of Possibility

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As we enter a new year, what is our present moment in terms of the issues we face within religious formation? What are our underlying assumptions about our world and our church? Where does our hope lie? In 2021 and beyond, what should be our agenda moving forward? This webinar is an an exercise in naming and explores our response as believers in Christ’s Good News. 

Webinar with Ronald Rohlheiser, OMI

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Study Guide on Pope Francis' Fratelli Tutti

In this study guide, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns offers key points and quotes from each chapter of Fratelli Tutti, along with reflection questions and the two prayers that Pope Francis includes at the end of the encyclical.

We hope this guide enables individuals and small groups to learn Pope Francis’ teachings and use them to build peace and solidarity in your relationships, community, and world.

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Authenticity, Vocation, & the Risk of Faith: Hopes and Challenges for the Synod on Young People

On September 20 and 21 the RFC participated in the Catholics on Call Partner Conference at Catholic Theological Union. The theme of the Partner Conference and the presentation was entitled, "Authenticity, Vocation & the Risk of Faith: Hopes and Challenges for the Synod On Young People." Fr. Dan Horan, OFM gave an overview of the preparatory materials that have been assembled for the Synod. To access the recorded video of the presentations (part 1 and 2), click:

Part 1

Part 2 

Religious Life Encountering Synodality

Pope Francis is asking every person to look deeply at how the people of God are experiencing ourselves as church and to ask what the Spirit is calling us to as church into the future. The call to members of consecrated life to participate in this process was specifically mentioned in the SYNOD 2023 PREPARATORY DOCUMENT. Additionally, each congregation has received an invitation from the USG (Union of Superiors General) and UISG (International Union of Superiors General) to participate and offer their perspectives.

Discussion with Professor Rafael Luciani and Sr. Maria Cimperman. Professor Luciani, Theology faculty at Boston College, is a member of the Theological Commission for the Synodality process. Sr. Maria, Theological Ethics faculty and Director of the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life, has been named by the UISG and USG to a four-person commission which created a process for congregations and who will encounter the responses from religious congregations and offer a synthesis for the Synod on Synodality.

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