The first consultation meeting in Estonia

Here is Bree’s report after the first consultation meeting in Estonia.

Synodal consultation meeting on 16th October, 2021 in Tallinn.

“’Are you catholic?’ The priest asked before he gave me communion. This took the joy of coming to the mass away from me for some time.” This was part of the wounds opened during the synod discussion on the 16th of October, 2021.

The first expression was one of gratitude for the varied times of masses and the inclusivity generated by celebrating mass in 4 different languages. As the number of priests in the country increased overtime, so also the number of parishioners increased.

One person’s story indicated that the journey is to live well and get to heaven. It’s important to know where you’re going and stay on that road till you get there. The church and priest is important in helping you get there.

Another participant was of the opinion that the better word is “pilgrimage”, as we’re on earth for a short while. “You can’t take back time. Everyone has a call and were all connected just like the vine and the branches”. He also stressed the need to take people along on this journey.

How did it feel to join in the celebration mass for 7 years without communion? This was also told during this meeting. A participant, who was married to a Lutheran had to face this until marriage in the church.

A story was recounted of how the lack of a firm purpose of amendment caused a priest to send her off the confessional and the lessons learned from that.

Another story of saving an abandoned child whilst harbouring regrets of not having done more to ensure the wellbeing of the child. This participant also recognized the Ignatian style present in the synodal guidelines where freedom in expression is emphasized.

One particular story about the happiness in finding a catholic church in Estonia which is a country known for pervasive atheism. This was made better by the fact that the serving priest is Chilean. This participant expressed the challenge she took up in learning more about her faith after witnessing Catholics who were converted Lutherans but had amassed knowledge of the catholic church in a relatively short time. The feeling of coming from a catholic country and learning more about the church in an atheistic country was what spurred her to learn more about her faith.

Another participant expressed gratefulness to God for her experience as she had experienced others who came in a similar fashion, but had declined in religious matters.

The initial participant expressed the criticism of the church given in social media. She thinks young people should increase their voice in advancing the church and its values (e.g. preservation of human life).

Indeed, a participant needed to understand if the purpose of the synod was to gather our opinions abut the happening in the church and forward these to the pope, so that he gets an idea of what’s happening at the grassroot level.

A participant told a story of how her protestant friend asked her opinion on the Pope’s acceptance of people with homosexual orientation and how she could not respond to that. She told another story of a colleague advancing “safe abortion” as against “no abortion” as people still do abortions anyway regardless of the laws against it. “Is it not better for abortions to be normalized, so that women don’t die or lose their wombs in the process of hiding to do it?” She explained however, that she maintained her ground as committing abortion is indeed killing another human being.

A participant told the story of his call to service in Estonia. He initially declined offer for fear of embarking on this journey, but a priest advised him to trust in God regarding this decision. He eventually got the leading to come and has since been convicted that it was a great decision. said no to coming to Estonia.

This concludes the stories told by participants that day.

Report by Bree.