Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz has invited pastors of the archdiocese’s 110 parishes to host sessions in their parishes or to gather with other parishes beginning this winter and into spring.
“Through this synodal process, Pope Francis would like to invite every Catholic to prayerfully reflect and learn together about how God is calling us to be as the Church in the third millennium,” Archbishop Kurtz wrote in a letter to pastors Jan. 10.
Tink Guthrie, vice chancellor and synod coordinator for the archdiocese, said the listening sessions may be counter-intuitive to those who have participated in diocesan and parish planning or listening sessions in the past.
“It’s about sharing, listening, letting the Holy Spirit guide. It’s not about solving or debating,” he said. “This is the Holy Father’s synod, not our synod.”
The word synod, a Greek word for “journeying together,” is typically used by the church to refer to an assembly of bishops. The current synodal process is a way to involve the church worldwide in a common journey, which will ultimately lead to a synod of bishops in 2023.
Feedback from the parish listening sessions — along with feedback from many others — will be combined into a 10-page document called a synthesis and forwarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The U.S. bishops will create a document from all of the dioceses for the Holy See.
Similar processes are expected to happen around the world so that Pope Francis and the synod of bishops will have a vision of the church from around the globe.
Central to the process is gathering the feedback and the synthesis, said Guthrie, noting that the 10-page synthesis will not be able to capture all perspectives.
Rather than simply gathering a list of ideas that were most popular, he said, the conveners at listening sessions and those tasked with the synthesis are instead asked by Pope Francis to consider, “What was inspirational? What introduced new perspectives? What was impactful?”
“That doesn’t mean we as a diocese don’t have learnings beyond the synthesis,” he noted. “We may have specific learnings, as could a parish that won’t be in the report” sent to the U.S. bishops.
“I see so many ways good things can come out of this,” he added. “More than meets the eye.”
Guthrie said that in addition to parish listening sessions, the archdiocese will invite other groups to have listening sessions as well, from religious communities to parish committees and professional organizations. As those plans develop, they will be announced in The Record.
Parishes interested in hosting listening sessions are asked to contact Guthrie at the Pastoral Center by Feb. 4 for more information and resources at email@example.com or 585-3291, ext. 1118.
For those interested in learning more about the process, information is also available online.