Synod suggestion is music to committee members’ ears

| August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Estela Villagran Manancero

Estela Villagrán Manancero suggested having a synod song for the upcoming diocesan synod. Other members of the executive committee enthusiastically agreed, and a priest of the archdiocese has been commissioned to set the Pre-Synod Prayer to music. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

When the archdiocesan synod executive committee met in recent months to find ways to generate enthusiasm in the pews for prayer and listening events that begin in September, one member suggested singing a new tune.

Estela Villagrán Manancero, who also serves as the director of the Office of Latino Ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, suggested having a “synod song” to draw people together and attract them to the events aimed at bringing their voices and ideas to Archbishop Bernard Hebda as he shapes a pastoral plan for the archdiocese.

During a subcommittee meeting on prayer for the synod, several members were discussing songs that could be used for prayer gatherings throughout the pre-synod process. Manancero suggested having one song that everyone could use. Her singing background and work over the last several years with the V Encuentro process for Latino Catholics both locally and nationally motivated her to bring this idea to the synod’s executive committee.

The response to her suggestion was immediate and passionate.

“Everybody was (saying) ‘That’s fabulous, let’s do it,’” Manancero recalled. “That was definitely the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Father Joseph Bambenek, co-director of the synod executive committee, said a synod song “was nowhere on our radar screen until (Manancero) brought it up.”

The synod song will involve setting the Pre-Synod Prayer, chosen by Archbishop Hebda, to music. Crafting the melody will be Father Jan Michael Joncas, a priest of the archdiocese who has generated scores of liturgical music over the last several decades. Manancero said she has translated the prayer into Spanish so that Latinos can join in as well.

Pre-Synod Prayer“Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love.
Amen.”

“It’s (a) beautiful, short prayer,” she said. “I think it will make the synod real (and) ours. … I think it will be something we can identify with.”

She saw firsthand how a song can unify people during the V Encuentro process, which began in 2018 in dioceses across the country and culminated with a national gathering last fall in Grapevine, Texas. Spanish for “fifth encounter,” the program was designed to equip Latinos to deepen and share their faith. Manancero joined thousands of delegates, including 22 from this archdiocese, at the Texas gathering.

In the V Encuentro process, she also saw the effectiveness of using small groups, a point she made to the synod executive committee when the idea of using small groups was being discussed. Manancero put her endorsement on the idea, noting how well it worked in V Encuentro.

“That is something that is so common in our culture,” she said of having small groups. “We feel that everybody has an opportunity to share their thoughts, and I think that’s a plus. Everybody feels important and that they contribute to the process.”

During the upcoming prayer and listening events, Manancero said, those who come will be divided into groups of up to eight people. They will share their thoughts and opinions within their small group, with someone writing down what they say. Then, at the end, a representative from each group will stand up and share a few remarks with Archbishop Hebda and all attendees.

As people prepare for the upcoming prayer and listening events at parishes throughout the archdiocese, executive committee members hope the synod prayer will be on their lips. Archbishop Hebda already has been using the prayer, and hopes others will do the same.

“He really wants this synod rooted in prayer,” said Therese Coons, director of the synod committee. “And, led by the Holy Spirit.”

Father Bambenek said putting a prayer like this into song has a way of “touching something in our hearts that raises us to a higher level.” As that happens, another benefit will emerge.

“I think it will be unifying,” Father Bambenek said. “It’ll show the importance of what we’re doing.”

With so many Latinos in the archdiocese having gone through the V Encuentro process, Manancero said she expects they will “participate heavily” in the pre-synod events. Three will be offered in English and Spanish at the following parishes — Our Lady of Guadalupe in
St. Paul, St. Stephen in Minneapolis and St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center.

One event will be in English and Vietnamese, at St. Anne-St. Joseph Hien in Minneapolis.

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Category: Archdiocesan Synod, Featured