In October 2021, Pope Francis invited the whole world to participate in Synod 2021-2023. A synod is a listening and discernment process; the word “synod” is derived from an ancient Greek term that means “coming together” or “journeying together”. In his address on the opening of the Synod, Pope Francis described a synod as “a process of authentic spiritual discernment that we undertake… to cooperate more effectively with the work of God in history”.
The Pope called for this Synod in particular to be “a process that involves the local Churches, in different phases and from the bottom up, in an exciting and engaging effort that can forge a style of communion and participation directed to mission”. In the first phase of Synod 2021-2023, dioceses around the world were asked to find ways to listen and speak with one another, to determine how “journeying together” is happening now in their communities, and what new ways the Holy Spirit is calling for people to grow in “journeying together”.
Here in the Diocese of Victoria, Bishop Gary invited all people to participate in Synod 2021-2023 by joining a Listening Circle online or in-person, or completing the “Listening Church” response form. Since January, 55 Listening Circles have been held and over 60 forms have been received; in total, more than 450 people from every part of our Diocese have participated in the Synod.
Our Diocesan Synod Team is now working to combine these responses into a report that will be submitted to the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops in June. The Assembly will then combine all the responses from Western Canadian dioceses into a single document. This will be sent to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in turn will create a national document from all the responses it receives. This document will be sent to Rome to be combined with the responses from every part of the world, in preparation for the final Synod 2021-2023 meeting in October 2023.
Based on the experiences of this process, the Synod Team is discussing how to continue the spirit of synodality in our Diocese through ongoing opportunities for sharing, listening, and discernment. Together, we will keep working to chart a course for our journey, now and in the future, as the people of God.
If you’d like to learn more about the Synod, the CCCB Office for Evangelization and Catechesis is offering a three-part webinar series. The series is free, but you must register by Monday, May 16, 2022. For more information and to register, visit https://cccb-ca.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xYg1RDBCRueTvMl7Ga916Q