Over the centuries, men and women religious have practiced synodality through chapters, community meetings, and conversation groups to prepare for chapters of elections and affairs, house meetings and more. Decisions are made through prayer, dialogue (sometimes intense), and contemplative discernment to come to a decision or a way forward.
The synod handbook, or vademecum, states that “Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment.” As religious, we know that synodality and discernment is a way of life. The congregation engaged in synodal processes plan for the common good. That may mean exploration of new ministries, letting go of current ministries, redefining formation, planning for retirement of elders, and responding to the needs of the church now and in the future. The charism and rule of each institute creates the environment for both synodality and discernment to take place.