Matt Jeziorski is happy to be home. ‘I wanted to come back to the north-west in search of cheap beer and affordable housing and also wanted a new challenge, something a bit different, and this job ticked those boxes,’ says the 39-year-old, who embarked in September on his new role as the Archdiocesan co-ordinator of the 2020 Synod.
It is a challenge, he acknowledges, that will intensify in the coming weeks. Synod Sunday on 21 October and the open meetings taking place across the Archdiocese until 8 November are only the beginning of a significant phase of planning for 2020. ‘Those meetings are about inviting people along to hear a vision – this is why the Archdiocese feels we need this Synod and this is what the process is going to look like,’ he says.
‘There’s been a year of prayer that ended with the Eucharistic Congress. And now, the next stage is characterised by two things – the first part up to Christmas is sharing a vision, trying to enthuse as many people as possible about why it’s important that they get involved and their voices should be heard. Alongside that is the selection of the 500 people who will be Synod members. Going to the Synod in October 2020 and voting on things is part of that but actually theirs is a role of two years of meetings in their local areas to listen, to hear people’s concerns and their hopes and dreams and fears and anxieties about the Church and the world. Through that listening we can begin as an Archdiocese to discern the way God calls our Church to develop in the future.’
The Archdiocesan clergy will provide a portion of Synod members, but more than 350 places will be filled from elsewhere. ‘Every parish will select one Synod member and every pastoral area will select another eight,’ says Matt, whose own home parish is Sacred Heart and St Alban parish in Warrington. ‘The idea is that they reflect the diversity of that area, so if there’s a massive hospital in your pastoral area, you probably want people in healthcare involved.’
A Maths graduate, Matt has two MAs (one in community and youth work, the other in pastoral theology) and was previously based in north London working for Pax Christi, spending nine years ‘managing a national education project’. Overall, he has been ‘in Church youth work for the best part of two decades’ but now for his new assignment: Synod 2020.
He offers a reflection on the Synod’s strapline ‘Together on the road, becoming the Church we are called to be’, saying: ‘Actually, Pope Francis talks about Synodality being the path that God wants of his Church in the third millennium and he seems to me to be talking about every level of the Church – our parishes, our deaneries, our pastoral areas – being much more inclined to listen to one another and to discern carefully together and acknowledge the spirit of God working in everybody.
‘That possibility of transforming the grassroots and inspiring different ways of being Church really excites me.’
And it is, we must add, not the only thing that excites him about being back up north. ‘It’s great to be back nearer the mighty Warrington Wolves rugby league team,’ he grins. ‘Plus I’m 83 grounds through doing the 92 football league grounds and it’s mostly northern clubs I’ve got left!’