This Pentecost Sunday June 8, our Archdiocese of Washington will have an "upper room" experience, as we tangibly experience the Holy Spirit - not with tongues of fire or wind, as the Apostles did at the first Pentecost, but with Cardinal Wuerl convoking the final session of the Synod of the Archdiocese of Washington, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

The first Archdiocesan Synod, the centerpiece of the Archdiocese of Washington's 75th anniversary commemoration in 2014, will issue recommendations, with related statutes, setting forth a blueprint for the archdiocese's future outreach and its efforts to manifest God's kingdom in our community and our world.

"Pentecost was not a one-time event. There is a constant outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church," Cardinal Wuerl said in a June 1 interview with the Catholic Standard. "We experienced it in these two years of work on the Synod, with so many people working so hard on the question of how well we are doing the work of the Church. As a result of that effort, we have a Synod speaking from the experiences of this Church, as we prepare ourselves for the future."

Cardinal Wuerl in his column on page 5 of this week's Catholic Standard provides an overview of the Archdiocesan Synod. On June 8, the Synod recommendations and statutes, and a related pastoral letter by Cardinal Wuerl, will be published. (See the Archdiocese of Washington's website at www.adw.org for those texts, and see the Catholic Standard's website at www.cathstan.org for related news.)

In that interview with the Catholic Standard, Cardinal Wuerl called the work of the Synod "a manifestation of Pentecost." Since 2012, more than 200 delegates, including priests, women religious, deacons, and lay men and women from all parts of the archdiocese and from many different backgrounds, reviewed 15,000 suggestions offered in parish and regional listening sessions and through online surveys. They studied what our local Church was doing well, and what it could do better, in the key areas of worship, education, community, service and stewardship and administration. On May 10, at the Synod's sixth and final preparatory session, the delegates expressed unanimous support and general consensus for the recommendations that will be presented at Pentecost Sunday.

Cardinal Wuerl said it was especially inspiring to witness that engagement of so many lay men and women in the work of the Synod, joining their efforts to their fellow delegates who were ordained and in consecrated life, to help build, as he said at the effort's onset, "the best Church we can be."

"They brought their devotion to Christ and their love for the Church to the whole task that unfolded over two years," the cardinal said. "...That's the Spirit at work."

The cardinal noted that the Archdiocesan Synod's final recommendations issued on June 8 are "only the beginning." The work of the Spirit that lies ahead will unfold when the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Washington carry out that work of evangelizing, spreading the Gospel and bringing the message of Christ to the community.

The Synod delegates built on the Archdiocese of Washington's 75-year foundation of faith that began in a formal way when Pope Pius XII established the archdiocese in 1939, and they built on the work of the Spirit that began at the first Pentecost almost 2,000 years ago, when the Apostles were emboldened to go out and be Christ's witnesses in the world.

Addressing the Synod delegates at a preparatory meeting earlier this year, Cardinal Wuerl said that today's disciples of Jesus in our Archdiocese of Washington are likewise called to be witnesses of the risen Christ in their everyday lives. That has been the work, and will be the ultimate goal, of the Archdiocesan Synod, to carry out the New Evangelization, so members of our archdiocesan family of faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit, will deepen their faith, and have the courage to share it, to "go out" from their own upper rooms, and bring Christ to the world, as the Apostles did after the first Pentecost.

"Now it's up to us," said Cardinal Wuerl.