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Richmond pastor invited to Rome for global gathering

Three hundred parish priests from around the world will gather in Rome at the end of the month.
Father Pierre Ducharme
Father Pierre Ducharme

A Richmond Catholic priest is heading in early May to a religious conference, a "synod," near Rome and to meet the pope.

Father Pierre Ducharme of Richmond's St. Joseph the Worker Church is one of three Canadian delegates chosen to attend the four-day event near Rome where they'll be joined by 300 priests from around the world.

A synod is an assembly of bishops, priests and/or church officials, and this meeting will of one of listening, prayer and looking for God's direction in life, what Catholics call "discernment."

The gathering will focus on parish priest voices and how synodality, listening to individual voices within one's church, has been implemented at their parishes, explained Ducharme.

"I understand how important it is in the life of the church, and we are contributing to the discernment of the church worldwide," he said.

Ducharme said it will be an "honour" to gather with priests from around the world to discuss "matters of great importance."

Ducharme will join pastors Father Fabio DeSouza from the Diocese of Calgary and Father Daniel Ouellet from the Diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere, Que., as the Canadian delegates.

Bishops in each country were asked to nominate a certain number of priests who have been involved with the concept of synodality and have done work in their local community around the subject.

The 300 priests will be divided into small groups for roundtable discussions, liturgical celebrations, workshops on pastoral proposals and more.

"We are being asked to bring our experience of synodality at our local level to these discussions," said Ducharme, adding his invitation to the synod is a sign that St. Joseph the Worker parish has "done really good things here in Richmond around this topic."

"It's a credit to our community and the way our community has stepped up and come together that I'm being invited to go."

At the end of the synod, on May 2, they will have the chance to speak with Pope Francis.

"I am very excited about meeting Pope Francis. He's kind of my hero.

"I'm really hoping this whole process and my contribution ... can lead to a more welcoming and hospitable church."

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