“Under clear skies and warm sunshine,” is how Bishop Joel Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi described the weather during the Eucharistic Celebration that marked the beginning of the 15th Ordinary Synod of Bishops at 10 a.m. on October 3 at St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome, Italy.
Together with over 260 Synodal Fathers, 49 priests, 34 young people and hundreds of pilgrims, the Bishop listened to Pope Francis’ homily at the Opening Mass.
“May the Spirit grant us the grace to be Synodal Fathers anointed with the gift of dreaming and of hoping. We will then, in turn, be able to anoint our young people with the gift of prophecy and vision. May the Spirit give us the grace to be a memory that is diligent, living and effective, that does not allow itself from one generation to the next to be extinguished or crushed by the prophets of doom and misfortune, by our own shortcomings, mistakes, and sins. Rather may it be a memory capable of enkindling our hearts and of discerning the ways of the Spirit,” Pope Francis said in his homily as quoted by Bishop Baylon.
During the Opening Session in the afternoon, Bishop Baylon said that the Holy Father “expressed his fervent desire to make the Synod a time to listen to the young”. The Pope wanted the Church to become a welcoming place where the young are “accepted and listened to”.
The Pope wished that the Church leaders will have “the humility to listen to young people for everybody has the right to be heard and as everybody has the right to speak”.
The Pope also wished that the outcome of the Synod will not just be another “document read by a few and criticized by many.”
Synodal Father is a reference to Church leaders such as the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and heads of religious congregations.