While Synods are as old as the Church herself, this Synod on Synodality is unprecedented in so many ways. Our challenge as Catholics is to actively resist the temptation to see this Synod as something similar to anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes.

There are significant signs that this is a consultation of the entire people of God like no other and truly a step toward fulfillment of the work of the Second Vatican Council.

One of those signs is in the appointment of Sister Nathalie Becquart as Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, making her the first woman to have the right to vote in the Catholic Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis has made significant attempts to reform the hierarchical structures that have defined the Roman Catholic Church for centuries — structures that have in many ways limited the influence of lay people and especially women. Few have had such a decisive say on shaping the future of the institution as Sr. Nathalie.

Sr. Nathalie is a French Religious of the Congregation of Xavières. In May of 2019, she was appointed by Pope Francis, along with four other women and one man, as Consultor to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church. She played a significant role in both the Synod dedicated to Young People in the Synod on the Pan-Amazonian region. 

She sees the appointment as Undersecretary (No. 2 Officer at this Synod!) as a part of Pope Francis’ effort “to implement synodality at every level of the Church’s life and to benefit from the important contribution that women can make.” She also comments that her appointment points to a move to disconnect the exercise of leadership from ordination.

To hear from Sister Nathalie herself about this important appointment, check out the “Synodality Starts with Coffee with Sr. Nathalie Becquart” podcast here: https://www.jesuits.org/synod/

Our Synod committee meets weekly to grapple with the challenges of gathering the wealth of experiences and learning a lived synodality. We are exploring many ways we can reach people in multifaceted ways to hear the fruits of their own prayer and experience in the Church. We encourage everyone if they haven’t had a chance to read the Synod on Synodality Preparatory Document and Vademecum which are both available on the Synod page of our website, along with a host of additional Synod information and resources.

In the Easter Season we’ll be offering many ways to engage in the process of Synodality at St. John – St. Paul Collaborative.

Walking Together Corner: A Consultation Like No Other