Friday, October 19, 2018

Final day of small groups

Today was a serious work day, particularly for those of us who have the role of Rapporteur. Originally, the Synod schedule required us to get our "rapporteur reports" in by Saturday a little after noon. This would have given us time to have our meetings today, prepare the text of the various amendments we wanted to propose, vote on them Saturday morning, and use the rest of the morning to write up the report. But with the change in the schedule, the amendments and accompanying report was now due *tonight*. Which meant that we lost an entire evening and subsequent morning to do the paperwork.

So I was up early today, writing a skeleton for the report and reviewing my notes to see what elements of modi I could piece together already in advance of our group discussion. Again, part III was tough. I did not have a lot to go on, and I hoped that the meeting this morning would help us advance better.

As it turned out, it did. The group is absolutely fantastic, and all present realised the situation. Our discussions were more focussed, bringing forward practical ideas to address the situation(s) of youth in the Catholic Church today. Of course, one major problem: how to bring unity to all these various proposal? How to avoid our many ideas and amendments (36 in total by the end) seeming to be just a lot of darts being thrown at a dartboard?

I had the 4-hour break between the morning and afternoon sessions to come up with an idea. But as I was putting the pieces of the puzzle together, one thing emerged as an idea: Jesus himself. *He* is our ultimate paradigm for action. If we look at core elements of his life and ministry, all the other various ideas fell into place.

So rather than write 36 individual amendments, I wrote up my rapporteur report first, hooking the amendments onto the report. I then brought copies of the report to my small group, so we could discuss it together. I sensed the group was a bit taken aback by the unique approach, but once they saw it was an attempt to respect everyone's point of view while at the same time providing a unified approach in the compressed time frame we had, we just dove in. I made sure to let the people know I was not emotionally invested in the text, and that all critiques were welcome. Many improvements were suggested to the text, and then we voted. Approved!

As this was our last small group meeting together, we decided to have a group photo on the steps outside our meeting room:

I took the rest of the evening to polish up the report based on the critiques received. I left the Paul VI hall around 7:45 pm, meaning I had been working on this thing for 12 hours straight. In a word, I was pooped. I had a bit of adventure getting out, because it turns out the Swiss Guards had locked the gate into Vatican City. I had to go to the nearby gendarme post and find my way through an interior guard post to get into Saint Peter's square. Not a big deal, but just another part of the adventure.

I want to thank my group for being so amazing. It was a pleasure to work with all of them, and I know we have all grown from this experience. We come out of it having discovered new brothers (and sisters!) in Christ, around the world.

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