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Synod Team plans strategy to hear from entire diocese for upcoming meeting of bishops

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 Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to participate in discussions on how we, as a Church, can walk together.

On Oct. 10, 2021, he formally opened a two-year process, officially known as “Synod 2021-2023: For a Synodal Church.” The process involves bishops from around the world consulting with everyone from parishioners to monks, nuns and Catholic universities before coming together for a discussion in 2023.

Deacon Don Weigel

 “He wants to have conversations all across the Church in every diocese in every country about how we walk together and become the Church we should be for the third millennium. That’s the big idea,” explained Deacon Don Weigel.

“I think a subtext of that is, he really wants us to ensure that we reach out to people that are not as well connected to the Church, at the margins, people that are maybe living in poverty or maybe immigrants and refugees, women, young adults, people with disabilities. So, really people who are not typically at our table and how do we bring those people to the table and hear from them what it is they need Church to be for them,” added Carrie Frank.

Deacon Weigel, diocesan director of Catholic Relief Service, and Frank, retired health care executive, have been asked to volunteer their services as co-chairs of the Synod Leadership Team to conduct listening sessions across the diocese.

They ask all Catholics to take the CLI Disciple Maker Survey and answer honestly, and encourage others to answer it as well, especially those who do not attend Church every week.

“That’s one of the things where we want to get as wide a distribution of responses as possible, because the information from the survey will also help to construct what we want to hear from people when we go out to the families of parishes,” said Deacon Weigel.

Carrie Frank

They are now planning to reach out to these distinct groups of people – women, youth and young adults, people of color, refugees and immigrants, and others – who are not being reached by the Church. They will contact Catholic bodies such as Catholic Charities, school alumni associations, and specific parishes who have contact with these populations. They hope to have rich conversations with small groups of about 20, asking what people need from the Church.

“That’s how we’re going to be informed, and that’s how we’re going to be best able to listen,” said Frank.

After phase one ends on June 30, a report will go to the USCCB that will be discerned and synthesized with all the other diocesan reports, and sent to Rome in October. Bishop Fisher and local parishes will also receive feedback.

A second phase will involve listening sessions with parishes and parish families. The synod will conclude with the bishops meeting in 2023.

“I think it’s important to make the point that the Synod is not something that’s going on over here and the Road to Renewal is something that is going on over here, and the 175th (anniversary of the diocese) is something that going on over here,” Deacon Weigel said. “We’re making the effort to conjoin all of these things. So that the Road to Renewal is not just about the structure, but what people see about that most is the collaboration of the different parishes and working together in that. The synod supports all that and, in fact, becomes part of the life force for that as well, because it is all about ‘how do we actually collaborate?’ in the sense of, how do we work together for the mission of the Church. That’s really the underpinnings for why we’re doing all of that. Celebrating our 175th anniversary is about recognizing our past, but our hopes and dreams for the future, which is what the synod is all about as well. It’s all connected.”

A theme song performed by Tahera Paul, Kacey Logan, Terrence Logan and Kayon Roberts can be found here.

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