When we reflect on the Gospel stories of Jesus’ life and ministry, it is clear that much of His
time was spent in LISTENING – listening to struggling souls who were seeking a better life for
themselves and those they loved. What set Jesus apart was that He listened not only to the
words they spoke but also to the movement of their hearts as they shared their
disappointments and fears, their grief and their pain, their brokenness and sin, their hopes
and dreams. In every instance, Jesus listened to those who approached him with the merciful
heart of God, acknowledging their life’s journey and treating them with respect and dignity.
Authentic listening – not just with our ears, but with our total being is truly powerful and a
deeply human experience.
Throughout her history, the Church has valued the art of listening. From the earliest days of
Christianity, the Church has used the model of a Synod as a means of listening to the voice of
God alive in each member of the Church. Therefore, a Synod is that ‘journeying together’ as
followers of Jesus to ENCOUNTER Him on the road, to LISTEN to what He wants from us as
Church during these times we live in, especially with the effects of Covid-19 and to help us
DISCERN what He wants us to do according to the Father’s Holy Will for each one of us. These
coming days, we in the Archdiocese of Windhoek, as in all dioceses of the world, are starting a
JOURNEY of LISTENING, ENCOUNTERING and DISCERNMENT. This journey is towards the
Synod of Bishops to be held in 2023 in Rome. It has the THEME: “For a SYNODAL Church:
Communion, Participation and Mission.”
Already on Sunday, 10 October 2021, Pope Francis officially opened this Synod in Rome. It will
have three (3) phases of preparation: a DIOCESAN phase, the phase of preparation in
BISHOPS’ CONFERENCES and the preparation on each CONTINENT. In each of these phases of
preparation, the Pope urges the Church that this journey of LISTENING should be guided by the
Holy Spirit. It should be a SPIRITUAL JOURNEY meant to enable us as Church to learn from the
experiences of this diocesan phase. The consultation process in our Archdiocese, as in all
dioceses of the world, will be for six (6) months, from 21 November 2021 – April/May 2022.
Together with me as your Archbishop and the Vicar General, there will be Diocesan Contact
persons, in the persons of the Dean of each of five (5) Deaneries in the Archdiocese. They will
form a Diocesan Contact Team of around ten (10) persons from all over the Archdiocese, which
will constitute two (2) persons from each Deanery who will steer this consultation process in
the Archdiocese. The Deans will report to the office of the Vicar General. More information on
this will be announced to you as the consultation process unfolds.
The most important for us all, is to remember that we are embarking on a SPIRITUAL
JOURNEY, LISTENING to the PROMPTINGS of the HOLY SPIRIT as to where GOD wants us to go.
Pope Francis cautions us to avoid reducing the synodal process into a mere ‘formal, external
event, a scene of intellectual and academic display, by which learned but abstract approaches
to the problems of the Church and the evils in our world are in competition.”
Brothers and Sisters, it is my hope that what will start on 21 November 2021 in our
Archdiocese, and for the next six months, and certainly beyond, will be a journey where the
voice of everyone is heard as the consultations happen in all our Parishes and
Outstations/farms – as well as religious communities or formation houses. There should be an
OUTREACH to EVERYONE, not only to those who regularly come to Church. Everyone should
be included: women, refugees, migrants, poor, marginalized, parish groups, sodalities, the
elderly, the disabled, the young people of the Archdiocese, the schools and hostels, those
who do not come to Church, even other Christian denominations…
I strongly urge you, as Pope Francis also indicated in his opening remarks of the Synod process,
not to display complacency, where one says, “we have somehow done this sort of thing
before”, “it is better not to change”, “Oh, nothing will come out of this, it’s a waste of time”,
and so forth. Let us be open to where the Holy Spirit wants to guide us. Let us take enough
time to devote to PRAYER and ADORATION.
The PRAYER CARD (currently available in English and Afrikaans – translation to other vernaculars is left up to
the Deans to coordinate) that you will receive soon, and in the days ahead, has the prayer to the
HOLY SPIRIT on it. It has to be prayed at every occasion during this journey as from 21
November 2021. It is the same prayer that the Synod Fathers of the Second Vatican Council
prayed every day during their deliberations during the Synod. May the Holy Spirit truly guide
In conclusion, Brothers and Sisters, remember, to LISTEN is the METHOD; to DISCERN
through the Holy Spirit is the PURPOSE; and to PARTICIPATE is the WAY.
May God bless you all.
Devotedly in the Lord,
+ Archbishop Liborius N Nashenda, OMI, 07 November 2021
Archdiocese of Windhoek / Namibia Windhoek