The Synodality Process of St. Ignatius Parish, Portland, Oregon (March 31, 2022)

The Synodality Process of St. Ignatius Parish, Portland, Oregon (March 31, 2022)

The Synodal process at St. Ignatius which began in January, 2022, involved holding 17 online and in-person small group meetings in three listening sessions in February and March with 83 participants producing many insights.


Many positive aspects of the parish were identified:

  • Participants describe St. Ignatius as “a special parish because of the gift of discernment” which can be tapped in creative ways for lay people to work together with the Church hierarchy for positive change. 

  • Many expressed love for the Church, St. Ignatius parish, Ignatian spirituality, and fellow parishioners, and their gratitude for St. Ignatius School because of its academic and spiritual teachings, and for its social values.

  • Especially noted were the inspiration and support participants find through thoughtful liturgies, beautiful music, homilies, ministries, small group faith sharing and the Novena of Grace that featured priests and parishioners speaking about faith experiences.

  • Social justice initiatives and social service groups were also mentioned as playing a major role in the lives of parish members who collaborate with St. Vincent de Paul, and Catholic Charities of Oregon, including resettling of refugees at Tibbetts House.

  • Parish groups were identified in sessions as supporting parishioners through senior gatherings, IGNITE, Just Faith, Renew, We the Parish, Men’s Spirituality, and Mothers' group and more.


Concerns that were expressed about challenges facing the Church and parish that need to be addressed:

  • Leadership:  Participants called for an end to clericalism, more involvement of the laity at all levels, and a more inclusive and ecumenical and welcoming Church for those on the margins (e.g., immigrants and LGBTQ).   While acknowledging the difficult role of the Archbishop, several noted that Vatican II is not being followed; the top-down governing structure is stifling. Inconsistencies and contradictions between what we hear from the Vatican and the USCCB/Archdiocese were discussed.  Anger persists over the Church sexual abuse scandal and for those who hid and denied the abuse.

  • Youth:  Parent sadness that their children and grandchildren were either no longer practicing their faith or were inactive Catholics. Too few young people in the pews, with seniors predominating. Calls were made for a change in our model of Mass and the sacraments, focusing on new and different ways to help recover the beauty of our sacraments and our sacramental world view for our young people.  Archdiocese and parish should set numerical targets for increasing the numbers of people under 40.

  • Mass and the Sacraments:   Bringing the Mass to life with a more uplifting aura of celebration, more opportunities for lay involvement to witness lived faith, addressing concerns of daily life, and new forms of music and liturgical expression were suggested as ways to kindle a more engaging environment.   Masses focused on a different cultural / country / ethnic group as a way of understanding and embracing our diversity, including a weekly Mass in Spanish were suggested.  Some believe the denial of communion to various groups of people should change.

  • Women in the Church: Groups reported on the importance of women having a significant role in the parish and the Church. Women in ministry are equal to men in their call to holiness and service to the community. Eucharistic ministry, preaching, and anointing of the sick (as a sacramental) can be done by women as well as men. 

  • Social Justice for those on the margins: Move social justice and ecological care of the planet to the heart of what is valued and acted upon in our parish and diocese. Poverty, homeless and the unhoused, racism, sexism, and discrimination toward those identifying as LGBTQ were mentioned as issues that call for increased work in this area.

  • Community:  The Covid pandemic affected personal and spiritual development when many parish activities and some Jesuit ministries were suspended.  Special attention to rebuilding and refreshing community ties and concerted welcoming to new or returning members is important notwithstanding reduced parish revenues. The website was mentioned as an underutilized resource for helping rebuild community connections and advertise parish activities and programs. 


Next Steps: Let’s keep Synodality sessions going and make synodal exchanges a practice of our parish.

The full Report on the Synodality Meetings of St. Ignatius Parish can be found at (Click this link). 



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