Two non-bishop representatives from Aotearoa New Zealand have been selected by Pope Francis to attend the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican later this year.
They are Manuel Beazley (Auckland diocese) and Fr Dennis Nacorda (Wellington archdiocese). They will attend the October Synod with Wellington Archbishop Paul Martin, SM.
Mr Beazley is Vicar for Maori in the diocese of Auckland, and co-ordinator of the Maori Pastoral Care Plan. He has previously served as a youth minister, as a parish pastoral assistant and facilitating engagement with multi-cultural ministry.
Fr Nacorda is parish priest of St Joseph Hāto Hōhepa Parish, Levin, in the Archdiocese of Wellington. His parish used the tools of the Synod on Synodality to set the vision and mission of the parish, which benefited from this process.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis invited each of the seven regions of the world to nominate 20 people who have been involved in local initiatives for the Synod of Bishops for a synodal Church as possible additions to the synod’s membership.
Pope Francis chose 10 members from each region from the list of nominees, seeking to create a cross-section of the Church in terms of age, sex, vocation and other demographic factors.
“There was no shortage of faithful and qualified people in Oceania who could bring their lived experience to the two sessions of the Synod of Bishops in October this year and October next year,” said Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay, New South Wales, who was elected president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania in February.
“Our region is one of the most diverse in the world, when you consider the 20 or so nations in this corner of the globe. That diversity enriches the Church in Oceania, and it will do so at the synod gatherings in Rome.”
Bishop Randazzo said that the 10 non-bishop members from the region will help amplify the voice of the Catholic population.
The 10 Oceania non-bishop members appointed by Pope Francis are: Manuel Beazley, New Zealand; Dr Trudy Dantis, Australia; John Lochowiak, Australia; Fr Dennis Nacorda, New Zealand; Kelly Paget, Australia; Sr Mary Angela Perez, RSM, Pacific; Fr Sijeesh Pullenkunnel, Syro-Malabar Eparchy; Dr Susan Sela, Pacific; Grace Wrakia, Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands; Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan, Australia.
Those members will join the following bishop members from Oceania, chosen by their episcopal conferences, who will participate in the Synod: Bishop Shane Mackinlay, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan (Australia), Archbishop Paul Martin, SM (New Zealand), Bishop Dariusz Kaluza, MSF (Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands), Bishop Paul Donoghue, SM (CEPAC (Pacific)).
CNS reported that Pope Francis has appointed more than 450 participants, including dozens of religious men and women and laypeople from around the world, to attend the first general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality in October.
And that list is not even complete, Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, told reporters at a Vatican news conference on July 7. More names are going to be added to the list of nonvoting members, such as experts and representatives of non-Catholic Christian communities, he said.
For now, the list of voting members is complete, numbering 363 cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay men and women – a first in the history of the synod. Pope Francis made significant changes to who can be a voting member of the synod on synodality, and he gave women the right to vote in the synod.
Out of the 364 members who can vote, which includes the Pope, 54 are women – either lay or religious; the number of cardinals appointed as members also is 54.
Among the attendees is a large group of non-bishop voting members who represent the “continental assemblies” and are named “witnesses of the synodal process”. There are 10 members in each group divided by continent: Africa; North America; Latin America; Asia; Eastern Churches and the Middle East; Europe; and Oceania, for a total of 70 individuals who are all priests, religious or lay men and women.
The list of nonvoting members is not complete, Cardinal Grech said.
That list released July 7 included two spiritual assistants: British Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe and Italian Benedictine Mother Maria Ignazia Angelini. All synod participants will be expected to attend a three-day retreat before the synod begins in early October.
The theme of the synod is: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”, and synod members will be called upon to continue to carry forward a “process of spiritual discernment” that was begun in 2021 and continue with a second synod assembly in 2024.
Photo: Fr Dennis Nacorda, left, and Manuel Beazley