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PRACTICING SYNODALITY: A Way Using the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Walter Brueggemann's Prophetic Imagination

Aldo Miguel Constantino M. Bonifacio (Philippines)

Master of Arts in Theological Studies with field of specialization in Biblical Theology
Fr. Francis Alvarez, S.J., S.T.L., Ph.D. (Adviser)


This research attempts to answer the Synod on Synodality’s call to journey with those who have become distant from the Church—Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith and those who have left the Church, commonly known as the disaffiliated. In attempting to understand the distance, the research discovered through data and analysis a common dynamic shared between these two groups—a dynamic and gradual process of disengagement.

In light of this discovery, the research endeavors to develop a practical dynamic approach to disengagement that begins with an admission that all of us are disengaged, establishing common ground, and reflecting synodality. This pragmatic approach is based on the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, a treatment modality for substance-use disorders that also functions as a highly effective dialogical tool. This modality is highly adaptable and may be modified to address disengagement and bridge the ever-growing distance between the Church and the disengaged. But this research found that it needs many enhancements, which led the study to draw from the key principles of Walter Brueggemann’s work on prophetic ministry, The Prophetic Imagination.

The result of this thesis sets the foundations for a simple, accessible, and highly adaptable way to encounter and dialogue with Catholics who have grown distant from the Church. The author hopes that various Catholic ministries, organizations, or groups will further enhance, modify, and appropriate this study based on their specific needs and context.

Final Defense:

11 May 2023, Thursday, 10:00 a.m at the Loyola School of Theology

Board of Examiners

  1. Markus Locker, Ph.D. (Second Reader/Principal Examiner)
  2. Fr. Jerome Vallabaraj, S.D.B., Th.D.
  3. Fr. Teodulo Gonzales, S.J., Ph.D.

Proposal Defense:

13 December 2022, Tuesday, 10:00-11:15am, Online via Zoom

Board of Examiners:
1. Fr. Francis Alvarez, S.J., S.T.L., Ph.D. (Adviser)
2. Fr. Teodulo Gonzales, S.J., Ph.D
3. Markus Locker, Ph.D.

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