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Pope Names Sr. Paula Jean Miller Synod Expert

Pope Names Sr. Paula Jean Miller Synod ExpertSister Paula Jean Miller, FSE, founder and director of Catholic Studies and professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, as an expert, adiutrix secretarii specialis, for the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The adiutrix, feminine, or adiutor, masculine, offers expert assistance and collaboration to the special secretary in the preparation of the Synod documents and reports.

Sister Paula Jean was interviewed by John Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter about her observations as a Synod expert. Read the interview here.

As an expert, Sister Paula Jean will attend all sessions of the Synod, listening to the presentations and discussions, and will be available during afternoon meetings for any assistance. Experts are present at all plenary sessions and meetings of the various language groups, where the groups' reporters can enlist their services.

Sister Paula Jean, who has been called to go to Rome in October, was recommended after careful review of her extensive background in theology, teaching, writing and collaboration on many Ecclesial events. Experts are proposed by one of the Vatican offices involved in the topic being discussed at the Synod.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this request from Pope Benedict XVI to serve in this very important Synod on the New Evangelization,” Sister Paula Jean said. “It is, of course, a great tribute to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, the University and the Department of Theology to have one of ‘their own’ chosen for this work in the Church at this critical juncture in world and Church history. I gratefully accept this nomination as a source of grace and growth for my own personal, religious and professional life.”

University President Dr. Robert Ivany said he was proud of Sister Paula Jean’s prestigious accomplishment.

“The announcement by the Vatican of Sister Paula Jean’s appointment as a Synod expert is a great honor for her, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and the University,” Ivany said. “We are proud of her achievements and her continued dedication to Catholic Studies at our University.”

The Synod begins with the opening Mass on Oct. 7 and concludes on Oct. 28. During this time, the Holy Father will initiate the Year of Faith on Oct. 11, as well as celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Sister Paula Jean will attend this special moment in the Church’s history in support of the Synod of Bishops.

The Synod of Bishops was established following the Second Vatican Council to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world, to assist bishops in the preservation and growth of faith, and to foster the unity and cooperation of bishops around the world with the Holy See.

Blessed Pope John Paul II best described the work of the Synod of Bishops in 1983. He said pastoral delegates from local Churches of every continent are represented at the synodal meetings.

“During the meeting, an exchange of information and suggestions takes place; and in the light of the Gospel and of the Church's doctrine common directives are set out which, once sealed with the approval of the Successor of St. Peter, flow back to the benefit of the same local Churches so that the entire Church may preserve communion in the plurality of cultures and situations.”

Pope John Paul II also recognized the importance of the experts when he addressed the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: “I thank you all from my heart, and along with you I thank the officials of the Secretariat and the experts who with their thorough studies have provided a wide basis for your reflection on the function and functioning of the Synod of Bishops.”

Sister Paula Jean, a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist, joined UST in 1999 at the invitation of the Most Rev. J. Michael Miller, CSB, former president of the University, who is now Archbishop of Vancouver in Canada. Archbishop Miller wanted the visible witness of a community of religious women to be an integral part of the UST family.