Reflections of Mary T Barron OLA on the Synod

Sr Mary T Barron is the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles. Sr Mary gained extensive missionary experience in Nigeria, West Africa and Tanzania, East Africa. Her journey has encompassed diverse pastoral activities in a rural parish in Shinyanga, Tanzania, youth work, women’s empowerment, and coordination of HIV and AIDS projects.

With fifteen years of leadership experience within the Congregation, she is deeply passionate about inter-congregational initiatives, serving as joint coordinator of a mission animation project in Ireland for the Irish Missionary Union and currently as President of SEDOS (Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission) in Rome. She was elected the Executive Board of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in May 2019 and subsequently as vice- President in May 2022, and president in 2023.

She remains dedicated to advancing the mission and collaborative efforts within the Church community and is one of five women religious representing the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) who took part in the First Session of the Synod 2021-2024.

In a broader statement on UISG’s participation in the Synod, conveyed her enthusiasm, stating, “We respond with joy to Pope Francis’ call to participate in the Synod of Bishops and to commit ourselves to the ecclesial journey of the Synod on communion, participation and mission. We are convinced that religious life, with its experience of community life and discernment, can help the Church achieve this synodal conversion.

Speaking of her experience at the Synod during the SEDOS Autumn seminar 2023, Sr Mary stated that “Being together has helped us build bridges.”

Above you can watch Sr Mary Barron, OLA, UISG President at the SEDOS Autumn Seminar 2023. Read a summary of the presentation below: 


Opening Remarks: Sr Mary Barron begins by setting the stage for her role in the conference, emphasising her task to share her personal experiences from the Synod while other speakers cover different aspects such as emerging content and related challenges.

Background of the Synod

Timeline and Preparations: The Synod of 2023 is part of an ongoing process that began in October 2021. Sr Mary Barron was present at the initial session, and extensive efforts were made globally to engage with the Christian community at various levels—local, national, and continental. Roles and Contributions: Contributions from across the globe were synthesized and brought to the Synod to help guide future directions, highlighting the active involvement and pivotal roles of various individuals including Sr Maria Cimperman RSCJ, who facilitated the synthesis.

Preparation for the Synod

Organisational Efforts: The Synod Secretariat played a crucial role in preparing participants through online meetings and thematic discussions, which were crucial for setting the agenda and ensuring effective participation.

Experience at the Synod

Initial Stages and Spiritual Journey: The Synod began with a series of ecumenical prayers and retreats, emphasising spiritual preparation and unity among the participants. Atmosphere and Interactions: Descriptions of the Synod’s atmosphere, focusing on inclusivity, deep listening, and respectful encounters; the settings facilitated a space where participants from diverse backgrounds could share and listen deeply to one another.

Key Events and Discussions

Women’s Role and Participation: There was a significant focus on the role of women in the church, highlighting the intense discussions and the strong convergence of opinions on this issue. Ecumenical Inclusion: The presence and contributions of ecumenical delegates enriched the Synod, bringing diverse Christian perspectives into the dialogue. Personal Encounters and Anecdotes: The informal interactions with Pope Francis and other participants added a personal touch to the event, emphasising the human element of the Synod.

Closing and Reflection

Impact and Transformation: The Synod was not only a forum for discussion but also a transformative experience for the participants, who felt changed by the process. Special Acknowledgment of Women: The historic participation of women, both as voters and leaders, marked a significant milestone in the Synod’s history.

Presentation of the Video

Tribute to Women: The session ended with a video tribute to the women at the Synod, encapsulating the diverse experiences and perspectives they brought to the discussions.