On Saturday, 30 September 2017, as Kolkata celebrated Mahadashami, the curtain came down on a historic event at Barrackpore's Morning Star College and Regional Seminary. The Diocesan Synod of Calcutta – the first ever hosted by the 183 year old archdiocese – concluded with a solemn eucharistic celebration, which in addition to the synod Members, saw attendance by many laity from the city and suburban parishes.
Know your Synod
What: The Diocesan Synod of Calcutta, AKA Synod 2017.
Why: The aim of the synod was to consolidate data from the parishes into a viable pastoral plan for the archdiocese; through discussion, debate and finally consensus building. Concrete proposals for new laws, structures, thrusts and strengthening of the existing.
When: Between September 26 – 30, 2017, with the working days being 27 – 29 September.
Where: At the Morning Star Regional Seminary at Barrackpore, a Kolkata suburb.
How: Every workday the synod Members would discuss 4 of the 12 pastoral plan Concerns. They would formulate proposals which would be presented to the General assembly each afternoon for larger discussion and finally put to vote (voting at the synod was consultative – done solely to get the feel of the assembly).
Who: The synod Members consisted of members of presbyterial council, major superiors of congregations, presidents of archdiocese groups/organisations, APPCoT members, Diocesan directors and secretaries, all parish priests and lay representatives of every parish.
Culminating four years of effort, the synod was convoked by Archbishop Thomas D'Souza to consolidate all the input received and gains made into final shape as a Pastoral Plan for the archdiocese. Taking a year to plan, an expanded team of the existing Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan
Coordinating Team (APPCoT) designated Synod Preparatory Commission prepared papers, animated the selected delegates (“Members”) and dived into the myriad of logistical tasks such an event entails. A prayer for the success of the Synod was composed and churches were requested to pray it at Mass, for the success of the celebration, which was to be “Entrusted to the Lord; Established by Him.” A day before the synod began Holy Hours were observed across the archdiocese. Finally, on 26 September 2017, the synod members began to arrive at Morning Star. The movement of the synod was imminent.
The synod had not one but three versions of the anthem!Music for the official English version was a gift from the conductor of a Mumbai choir, the Bengali version was translated and set to music by Dilip Rosario and there was a third, unofficial version, performed by gospel group Voicestra at the venue in slow rock style. To listen to the anthem, visit Archdiocese of Calcutta.in/synod.
Ceremony of the Scroll
A solemn ceremony marking the close of the working days of the synod. The archbishop hands over files containing the proposals come out during the deliberations to his Diocesan Directors and Secretaries of Commissions, charging them to study the same and keep ready for implementation, when the synodal decrees confirming them are issued. The synodal secretaries symbolically record the list of the files in a scroll, which is read from to summon each Diocesan head and then retained by the archbishop. At the close of this ceremony archbishop Thomas D’Souza imparted an apostolic blessing– a form of blessing associated with papal authority, and rarely invoked unless the occasion is deemed solemn enough.
DAY 1, 26.09.2017
Delegates arrive. Registration. Mass. Health check up by Heath Care
DAY 2, 27.09.2017
Solemn inaugural Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by hosts.
DAY 3, 28.09.2017
Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by Kolkata Christian Choir.
DAY 4, 29.09.2017
Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by Voicestra, Ceremony of the scroll.
DAY 5, 30.09.2017
Interactive General Session. Solemn closing Mass, including the synodal declaration of the archbishop. Fellowship lunch. Departure.
The synod officials
President - His Grace Most Rev. Thomas D’Souza, archbishop of Calcutta
Vicar General - Father Dominic Gomes
Prolocutor - Father Gregory Monterio
Officiating Secretaries - Ms Anancia Fernandes and Ms Bemvinda Periera
Reporting Secretaries - Sr Sabrina Edwards IBVM and Fr Jothi I SJ
Priests - 88
Religious women - 23
Lay men - 37
Lay women - 13
A total of 161 Members attended the synod – over 90% of Members selected. Assisting the organisation were 6 non-members in the secretariat, 11 youth volunteers and 8 brothers from the seminary. The Rector of Morning Star College Rev. J Santhanam and Minister, Fr Harshvarddhan played important coordinating roles.