Every Wednesday, the Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit leadership team meets in a sweltering little conference room to pray over the upcoming Gospel reading and to discuss the Issue Of The Week (or month or liturgical season or pandemic cycle). We spent several minutes this Wednesday meditating (giggling) on the image of Peter impulsively stepping out of the boat only to then sink (figuratively) into anxiety and doubt and (literally) into the sea. In the moment, I couldn’t quite pin down why I found that image so compelling and then it struck me – oh no, oh yikes, I’m Peter.
One of my most enduring personality traits is my tendency to make huge decisions very quickly. I decided to go to divinity school within about 45 minutes. I decided to start my first pilgrimage before I even had good walking shoes (miraculously I finished the 375 miles with all my toenails). I decided to leave Chicago after eight years and move to Detroit in the time it took me to walk from my sister’s car into the Southgate MJR. I’m Peter with one foot out the boat before Jesus even says, “Come to me.” So, when I opened my email with about five minutes before I needed to be downstairs on Sunday morning to see a message from a wonderful and established Detroit woman in ministry with the subject line “Rome?” I was halfway to purchasing my tickets already.
Throughout the past two years, the global Church has been undergoing a synodal process and transformation. I was blessed to be able to plan and host two synodal listening sessions in the summer of 2022 in conjunction with the other Detroit Jesuit ministries and moreover, to write the synthesis report that was sent to the USCCB and Vatican. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to hold our dreams, hopes, and laments. The global Synod will reach new heights this October, with the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops—which, for the first time in the Church’s history, will include lay voting members, including women and young people. Discerning Deacons, invoked by Pope Francis and enlivened by the global discernment for women in the deaconate is sponsoring a delegation of young adults to attend the joint Vatican and Taizé ecumenical Together Conference immediately preceding the General Assembly. The pilgrimage will include imaginatively and collaboratively co-creating tomorrow’s Church with delegates from all around the world and meetings with voting members of the Synod, who will then vote on the final document that will emerge from the General Assembly. That’s all to say – I’m headed to Rome.
In the upcoming weeks there will be plenty of opportunities to participate in this trip (fundraising, educational zooms, Instagram posts, etc) but right now? Pray for me. Send me your favorite spots in Rome to get a cup of coffee. Read up on the Synod. Anything to say to Pope Francis? It’s your Church. You’ve got six weeks to tell me.
From Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit to St. Peter’s Square, I’ve got one foot out the boat. I can’t wait to share this journey with you.