Lay people and communities in a synodal Church

Dear Friends,

Following the Synodality special edition of our newsletter earlier this month, here now is our "ordinary" edition, which begins with my own generally positive evaluation of the just-published Synthesis from the First Assembly of the Synod.

We provide further details of our Contribution to the Synod and of our Mass at the Catacombs, co-hosted by the two YCW internationals, the IYCW and ICYCW, and honouring the memory of Blessed Enrique Angelelli, Pepe and Amalia Palacio.

We present the video from an excellent webinar on Pope Francis' new environmental apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum.

And we conclude with his exhortation on St Therese, patron saint of the YCW and the Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Stefan Gigacz
Synod synthesis: Church as community
One of the most striking aspects of the Synthesis from the First Assembly of the Synodality is the frequency of the terms “community” or “communities” of the faithful, notes Stefan Gigacz.

He notes also that the Synod does includes several passages that highlight the role of
the lay faithful contribute in a vital way to realising the Church's mission "in all environments and in the most ordinary situations of every day life."

The Synthesis thus offers "a solid base for the Second Assembly to develop a profound vision of the role of lay people in the world and the role of lay groups and communities as part of the broader Church understood as a community of communities," he concludes.


Stefan Gigacz, Lay people and communities in a synodal Church (Synodal Reflections)

Synod synthesis (Italian) (

Synod synthesis (Unofficial working translation in English)
Contribution to the Synod
Over 120 current and former local, national and international leaders of various lay apostolate movements and groups from 32 countries – many from the Global South – have added their names to a Contribution to the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality.

The statement, which was sent to Synod leaders, aims to draw Synod participants’ attention to several issues:

a) The need for a clear focus on the promotion of the lay apostolate of lay people as envisaged particularly in Lumen Gentium §31, Gaudium et Spes §43 and more generally in Apostolicam Actuositatem.

b) The need for better representation among participants in the First Assembly of the Synod of international Catholic (lay) movements and networks.

c) The need for a fresh look at the provisions of Apostolicam Actuositatem §26, which clearly called for more representative and participative structures involving grassroots lay movements and organisations from local to global level.


Contribution to the Synod First Assembly (ACI)

Contribution to the Synod website
Mass at the Catacombs
On Saturday 21 October, ACI, the Cardijn Cardijn Community and the two YCW Internationals (IYCW and ICYCW) hosted a special mass at the St Domitilla Catacombs to celebrate the memory of Blessed Enrique Angelelli and Jose Serapio (Pepe) Palacio, the co-founders of the YCW in the Diocese of Cordoba, Argentina.

This year also marks the centenary of the birth of both men, who were born in 1923.
Both were also killed by the military during Spain's Dirty War in 1975 and 1976. As a result, Amalia, Pepe's wife, also a former YCW leader, was left alone to raise their children.

Celebrating the memorial Mass were Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Bishops Shane Mackinlay (Sandhurst, Australia), Bishop Dante Braida (La Rioja, Argentina), Fr Clarence Devadass (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and Mgr Josef Sayer (Germany).
Mass participants included Synod subsecretary, Sr Nathalie Becquart, Clémence Otekpo (ICYCW), Basma Louis (IYCW), Stefan Gigacz (ACI), Kris Kummari (International Catholic Rural Youth - MIJARC), and others.


Mass at the Catacombs (ACI)
Video: Laudate Deum
Following on from his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis published a new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, on 3 October 2023.

To introduce this new document, ACI invited Jacqui Remond (Australian Catholic University), Tony Smith (Tasmania), Sherie Chant (Kolbe College, WA), and Irene Baik (Parramatta YCSà to present their reflections at our October webinar.

Pope Francis: The confidence of St Therese
On 15 October 2023, Pope Francis published an Apostolic Exhortation entitled “C’est la confiance” (It’s confidence) in memory of St Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of the YCW and other Specialised Catholic Action movements.

“It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love,” was St Therese’s phrase that inspired the title of the exhortation.

These words summed up “the genius of her spirituality and would suffice to justify the fact that she has been named a Doctor of the Church,” the pope said.


The confidence of St Therese (ACI)

Pope Francis, C’est la confiance (
Editorial Note: The purpose of the ACI Newsletter is to share information and promote discussion. Citing or linking to articles does not imply any endorsement by ACI of the authors' views.
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