The Synodal Journey has begun
“Listen! Let us listen!
Listen to our Lord’s call.
Listen! Let us listen!
The Synodal journey has begun!”
That’s the refrain from the Synod song that was produced by the Antilles Episcopal Conference of Catholic Bishops. Because of its message and its peppy, engaging rhythm we are using it as a welcoming song for each of the Listening Sessions for our Diocesan participation in the worldwide Synod. (You can listen to the song by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bevo4a73DRU)
The lyrics capture the spirit of what the Synod is all about – Pope Francis convoked the Synod to hear the hopes and the concerns of all people about the future of the Church.
Our Synodal journey in the diocese has definitely begun. So far, we have 30 listening sessions that have either been held already or will be held during the month of May. This is Phase 1 of our Synodal journey and it is focused on what we are calling “distinct groups” – these are groups that have a common experience, or a common perspective. This includes the African-American community, the LGBTQ community, women religious, people who minister to the poor, young adults, and many more.
Besides those specialized sessions, we are offering some sessions that anyone can attend during this month. To see the list of all of our listening sessions, go to www.buffalodiocese.org/synod. But, if you can’t make one of these sessions, and you still want your voice to be heard, there will be another opportunity in the summer and fall. Keep reading!
The input from our listening sessions with these groups will go toward the report that we have to submit to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by June 30. The U.S. bishops will take our report along with the reports from the 200 other dioceses in the U.S. and summarize all of it for one overall report to be sent to the Vatican. Then the Vatican will summarize all the reports from around the world in preparation for the Synod in Rome in October 2023. It’s an incredible undertaking.
We’d like to make two points about our efforts and our report. The first point is that even though we will be making a report to the U.S. bishops, the listening sessions are not really about the report. It’s all about creating a way of being Church that is based on all of us listening to each other – laity, religious and clergy taking co-responsibility for the mission of the Church.
In fact, we have taken as our mission statement for the diocesan Synod this statement from one of the documents about the Synod from the Vatican: “We recall that the purpose of the Synod … is not to produce documents, but ‘to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’”
The second point about the report is that our diocese’s effort for the Synod goes beyond the time we send in the report. We are calling this Phase 2 and it will be listening sessions in all of the Parish Families in the diocese – every one! During the summer and the fall, we will be holding at least one session in your Family. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs or the country; whether you live in Niagara County or the Southern Tier, there will be a listening session near you.
Next month: What we’ve learned so far, and what comes next.