Next Step: Synod Summary Document
Pope Francis is seeking input, from ALL members of the laity, especially those whose voice is not typically heard. This began with Synod Listening Sessions in early 2022.
Thank you to everyone who attended a Synod Listening Session. The diocese is working to prepare a summary document on these consultations to share with the Vatican.
Prayer for the Synod on Synodality
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it. We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder. Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right. All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.
The Church has become increasingly aware that synodality is the path for the entire people of God. It’s a journeying together of all the faithful since all the baptized, both the hierarchy and the laity, are called to be active participants in the saving mission of the Church. There are a diversity of gifts and charisms among all the faithful for the renewal and building up of the Church. All of us have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation.
Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to reflect on this theme of synodality, the theme of the next World Synod of Bishops. He has asked Catholics throughout the world to be part of the synodal process, to reflect together on our journey as God’s pilgrim and missionary people. He is asking us to reflect prayerfully to discern God’s will for His Church at this time in history.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Synod Opening Mass (Oct 2021)
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According to the “Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality,” the handbook for the first phase of the synod, by convening this synod Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission: “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium,” he says in the document.
Enlightened by the Word of God and united in prayer, all Catholics will be able to discern the processes to seek God’s will and pursue the pathways to which God calls them – toward deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling their mission in the world. In one word, toward synodality.
According to the handbook, first and foremost, synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the people of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel.
“In this sense, synodality enables the entire people of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, in order to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us.”
The Synod on Synodality is a Synod of Bishops. This means that the bishops of the world, who will have listened to the people of God throughout the process, will then discern the path forward, with and under the pope, the successor of St. Peter.
In this synod, however, Pope Francis has emphasized a desire to have the opinions of everyone — all the people of God — are to be shared. The “Vademecum” states:
“While the Synod of Bishops has taken place up until now as a gathering of bishops with and under the authority of the Pope, the Church increasingly realizes that synodality is the path for the entire People of God. Hence the Synodal Process is no longer only an assembly of bishops but a journey for all the faithful, in which every local Church has an integral part to play.”
While synodality is based on the baptismal gifts and responsibilities of each Catholic, it is intended that this synodal process should reach out to people “on the margins,” to find out how the Church can reach out to them and serve them in spiritual ways and through charitable works.
The preparatory document for the synod, received by dioceses Sept. 23, 2021 presents its objectives as three-fold.
• Recalling how the Spirit has guided the Church’s journey through history and, today, calls people to be, together, witnesses of God’s love
• (Moving closer to) living a participative and inclusive ecclesial process that offers everyone — especially those who, for various reasons, find themselves on the margins — the opportunity to express themselves and to be heard in order to contribute to the edification of the people of God.
• Recognizing and appreciating the wealth and the variety of the gifts and charisms that the Spirit liberally bestows for the good of the community and the benefit of the entire human family.
Anne Therese Stephens, diocesan coordinator of the synodal process, summed up the goal of the synodal process this way:
“We don’t live alone; we live in community. We are journeying toward eternity, namely heaven, together. In planning the synod in this format, the Holy Father seeks to know how has each individual’s experience been of living in community and journeying toward heaven together?
Pope Francis opened the path entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” Oct. 9-10, 2021 in Rome. The following weekend, Oct. 16-17, 2021 this process was formally opened by dioceses around the world with a designated Mass.
Through their pastor or the head of the local vicariate, parish-level consultations will take place this winter. The faithful are encouraged to look to their parish for information on how to participate. By April 1, 2022 the diocese will have prepared a summary document on these consultations that it will share with the Vatican.
Everyone, from those in leadership positions to those who are not practicing the faith, are encouraged to prayerfully reflect on the mission of synod and attend the local parish or vicariate meeting and share their experiences, opinions and answers to some of the same questions that will be asked of the diocesan high schools, health care institutions, Catholic Charities and universities, including, “Who are the poor in the community? What is your experience of community in the Church? How can the Church more effectively reach out to you? And, how can the Church better include you?
The preparatory document offers a “Fundamental Question,” one that will guide the consultations.
“A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow in our ‘journeying together’?”