Baptized for Mission

Archdiocesan Synod Update

This past year, our Synod Evangelization Team has been working diligently here at St. Mary’s in growing our small group ministry to reflect the Year 1 Implementation of the Archdiocesan Synod. Here at St. Mary’s during Lent 2024, we doubled the number of small groups, so that has been a great blessing over the past few months. Small groups will continue to be a focus moving into Years 2 and 3 of the Synod Implementation.  

The Archdiocesan Synod now prepares to enter Year 2 of its implementation focusing on the Eucharist and the Mass. Our Synod Evangelization Team continues to meet as it did the previous year to discover what the Holy Spirit is inviting us at St. Mary’s to. We invite you to join us in prayer and preparation – for more information about Synod implementation within the Archdiocese please visit or for information about the Synod here at St. Mary’s, please reach out to Nathan – [email protected].  Please continue to keep our Synod Evangelization Team in your prayers – and discern how the Lord is calling YOU to participate and use your gifts here at St. Mary’s and in our local community.

The Archdiocesan Synod

On Pentecost 2019, Archbishop Hebda announced that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis would begin work on a synod, the first synod to be held in the archdiocese since 1939.

A diocesan synod is a coming together of the local Church, an “assembly … of selected priests and other members of Christ’s faithful of a particular Church which, for the good of the whole diocesan community, assists the diocesan bishop” (Canon 460).  Archbishop Hebda announced the synod as an opportunity to discern and establish clear pastoral priorities in a way that will both promote greater unity and lead us to a more vigorous proclamation of Jesus’ good news.

The synod process involved three years of listening, preparation and engagement with laity, consecrated women and men, and clergy across the archdiocese.  In August 2020, following 19 Prayer and Listening Events and 11 focus events, with 8,173 participants and 35,026 comments, Archbishop Hebda announced three focus areas for the synod:

  • Forming parishes that are in the service of evangelization
  • Forming missionary disciples who know Jesus’s love and respond to His call
  • Forming youth and young adults in and for a Church that is always young

On Pentecost weekend 2022, more than 500 Catholics from throughout the archdiocese gathered with Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Williams for the actual archdiocesan synod.  The delegates voted on 40 propositions, the fruit of three years of broad consultation, prayer, discussion and discernment.

After prayerfully considering the work of the synod and the recommendations made to him, Archbishop Hebda issued his first pastoral letter, You Will Be My Witnesses: Gathered and Sent from the Upper Room.  The letter articulates his vision for a new model to renew this local Church, with three parish level priorities over the next three years:

Year 1 (July 2023-June2024) Small Groups

Year 2 (July 2024-June 2025) The Mass

Year 3 (July 2025-June 2026) Parents as Primary Educators

St. Mary of the Lake Dream Survey

In February 2022, as we became debt free for the first time in 50 years, parishioners of St. Mary of the Lake were invited to dream for the future! The imminent elimination of the debt provided a wonderful opportunity to stop and give thanks for those who have made St. Mary of the Lake their spiritual home over these past 140 years. Many generations of people have offered time, talent and treasure to make our parish a prayerful, vibrant, welcoming, Eucharistic, and mission-oriented community of disciples. As prior generations dreamed and planned for the future based on their particular circumstances and challenges, so must we. I invited everyone to be involved in dreaming for the future of St. Mary of the Lake by asking:  What will we need to proclaim the Gospel in the White Bear Lake area in 2027? 2032? What ministries? Land? Buildings? Resources? Staff? Technology? Finances? Parishioners shared their ideas verbally during dreaming sessions after all the Masses on the weekend of February 19-20, 2022. The goal of these sessions was not to solve problems or debate ideas, but to imagine how we will be Church in the future. In addition, other data was gathered at parish meetings and gatherings and through surveys. We assembled census data that gave us a snapshot of the people in our area.

More than 700 parishioners shared 1,200 dreams/ideas for how to best proclaim the Gospel at St. Mary of the Lake.  A team of parishioners read and discussed each comment and placed the comments into five categories. The five categories are described on the enclosed page. Members of the staff and the various parish committees read and discussed the work of the team. I offer thanks to those who shared their dreams and to those who have spent time reviewing and discussing all these ideas. Please watch the parish bulletin and website for dreams that have become reality. The Parish Leadership Council and staff continue to evaluate and prioritize these ideas, in conjunction with the implementation of the Archdiocesan Synod priorities.