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Synod Father Thomas Dowd, Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Canada Synod Father Thomas Dowd, Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Canada 

Synod: Bishop Dowd on ‘fitting the pieces of the puzzle'

Synod Father and Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Canada – Thomas Dowd – talks about the need to formulate new methods of engagement to involve young people.

By Linda Bordoni  

The challenges posed by Part three of the Synod of Bishops on Young People are coming to the fore as small groups discuss issues and draw up reports to be presented to those charged with writing the Synod’s final document.

Thomas Dowd, the Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal in Canada, told Vatican News that that in his group members are trying to find a model that will allow the Church to move forward pro-actively and efficiently

He also talks about the focus of his own intervention and about how the Catechesis needs to find new methods with which to engage young people.

Listen to the interview with Bishop Thomas Dowd

Bishop Thomas Dowd speaks of how his lively English-speaking group is currently focused on elaborating the input and information received so far and “trying to find a model that will allow the Church to move forward pro-actively – not just with bullet points and suggestions, but ‘how do we change our method so we become more active on these and on other issues?’”.

Accountability and the importance of the post Synodal process

Bishop Dowd explains that the Synod is going to provide recommendations to the Pope, and he will take them and work with his close advisers to produce something for the Universal Church. But, he stresses, very important is the level of implementation that has to happen in every country, every diocese, every parish.

“That is often where the rubber meets the road: how are we going to provide orientations that will also have some level of accountability for follow-up” he says.

He points out that the theme of accountability is an important one in many fields including the one that pertains to “a style of leadership”.

Sifting through and putting the important issues into order

Bishop Dowd says that now that so many important issues have been brought to the table, participants are engaging in “very free discussions” in order to be able to sift through and order the issues “and addressing them together”.

On the need to renew the Catechesis

Bishop Dowd reveals that the topic of his own intervention focused on Catechesis as it has been his experience that in his context, the post Vatican II Catechesis has largely failed.

He explains that there was an attempt to renew Catechesis and engage in a different form of Catechesis, but he says that a lot of it lacked content or fell short of demonstrating “how the pieces of the puzzle fit together”.

“We would still wind up getting a lot of content but we didn’t have the sort of model on the box: like if you are making a puzzle you have to see what image you are working towards and what image is emerging” in order to stay engaged,  he says.

He says he believes there is a method to learning as much as there is a content to learning and our Catechesis needs to include that method.

“I hear from other Bishops, he says, that there is a failure of Catechesis, that things are not sticking, that kids are going to Catholic Schools and then they are graduating from the Catholic Church, not just from school”.

Bishop Dowd also speaks of what for him the basic questions are and of how to make sure a lot of issues fall into place when teaching Catechism.

And, regarding the need for a new Catechism, he asks the question: “will it attract young people? Will it keep them in place?”

Because, he says, “It’s not a marketing question! It’s a question of how are we going to express the deep questions in their heart? How are we going to help them find answers? “

If we want to journey with people on their quest, Bishop Dowd concludes, addressing their questions has to be part of it!

19 October 2018, 17:56