The Challenge

Upon his election, Pope Francis spoke often of the New Evangelization but never functionally defined it. Over time, however, portions of that definition became apparent. He states that he sees the Church (translation: institution) as an inverted pyramid where the hierarchy serves the needs of the faithful. That is a shockingly loaded statement that runs contrary to our common experience. 

To put a framework together to define our challenge is daunting but suffice it to say that we are taking Pope Francis’ vision into reality and we are changing the paradigm. To effect such an experience, we must be mission driven:


  • We are planning a celebration of the Wisdom and Giftedness of the people. This reverses prior experience by the People of God where the institution was the prime source of wisdom. It is time to celebrate the people.
  • We, the People of God, are the Church (Vatican II). This Synod distinguishes between faith and the institution. This Synod is exclusively about our faith and how we could live intentionally modeling the faith in our daily life. 
  • We want to demonstrate the Spirit’s presence in our lives through contemplation and discernment. We have stories that demonstrate without any doubt how this Synod came to be and how she is walking with us in this planning.
  • We want to honor the People’s influence to become church and function in their own sphere of influence to model the faith by taking actions and making discerned decisions governed by Love.

This is the powerful Circle Way process. Our reflections during the weekend will be on conversations, and discovery guided by engaging a process of community building that creates and holds space for every voice to be heard and for wisdom to emerge in surprising and transformative ways. Though we gather from every corner of the world, we gather around a sacred Center with the shared intention to offer what we can to benefit the whole. We listen for Spirit within us and within one another, suspending judgment and welcoming mystery and transformation. Our facilitators, Robin Caruthers and Melissa Bailey-Kirk, come to us with many years of experience in the process called The Circle Way, and will be supporting our work together.


In this Synod we are changing a paradigm; the People of God is a much larger vision than any particular religion or denomination. In a recent article in the National Catholic Reporter, Charles Curran says: “In the future, the church needs to recognize the importance of the experiences of Christian people in contributing to the understanding of moral teaching. This is a daunting challenge. All recognize there is some vagueness about the sensus fidelium in theory. An even more difficult step is the practical one of ascertaining and determining what the sensus fidelium is on particular issues. An even more problematic aspect involves the practical structures of how to incorporate the experiences of Christian people into church teaching. All I can do here is to point out the problem and show the need for the church to better carry out its teaching role on moral issues.”


You can discover more about The Circle Way at www.thecircleway.net.