What is the Synod on Synodality?
The Synod on Synodality is a two-year process of listening and dialogue throughout the Church. The theme for this process is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”
What is synodality?
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. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working.
Synodality, in this perspective, is much more than the celebration of ecclesial meetings and bishops’ assemblies, or a matter of simple internal administration within the Church. It is the specific way of life of the Church, the People of God, which reveals and gives substance to her being as communion when all her members journey together, gather in assembly, and take an active part in her evangelizing mission.
What is the purpose of the synod?
The purpose of this synodal process is not to provide a temporary or one-time experience of synodality, but rather to provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term.
What did the Diocese of Tyler do?
The implementation process in the Diocese of Tyler was led by the pastors. Provided with questions for reflection, pastors held listening sessions in their parishes, in most cases, with their pastoral councils, in both English and Spanish. More than 90 percent of our pastors participated.
Upon completion of the listening sessions, results from the session were submitted to a committee tasked with reviewing the results of the listening sessions and identifying common themes. The committee included diocesan leaders from faith formation, marriage formation, Catholic social services, and Catholic education.
The 10 questions presented to the listening sessions focused on five themes:
- Joys, struggles, and meaningful experiences of the people in the diocese
- Hopes for moving forward together
- Who the Church listens to
- Authority in the Church
- Eucharistic devotion
The local process for the Diocese of Tyler identified several areas for reflection. In his pastoral letter on the synod report, Bishop Joseph Strickland highlighted three of these areas for the diocese to focus on:
- Forming the laity on their baptismal call and authority in the Church, and the importance and need for their active role in the life of the Church for the building up of the kingdom of God.
- Taking intentional steps to bring together the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities in our parishes as all seek to carry out the evangelizing mission of the Church. This has been an ongoing theme in the history of the diocese and this process has helped to bring it to the forefront once again. Our unity as Catholics must be in Jesus Christ, and love for him brings us together.
- Promoting eucharistic adoration and formation on the fundamental connection between this devotion and discipleship — proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed. Love for the Eucharist and a hunger for deeper reverence help to anchor our efforts in Jesus’ real presence and to know his eucharistic face is to know the Lord in a deep and intimate way that enlivens our faith.
What will we do moving forward?
There are multiple paths forward for the Diocese of Tyler. Efforts to increase unity in the diocese and opportunities to form and strengthen the laity concerning their baptismal authority entrusted to them by the Church, all centered on devotion to the Eucharist.
Bishop Strickland has invited the diocese to contemplate the results of the synodal process:
“As we continue on our synodal journey as a local and universal Church to discover what can help us to live communion, to achieve participation, and to open ourselves to mission, I invite all of you to consider and discuss what steps can be taken to address these areas.”
Our next steps will include continuing to benefit from the lesson of the synod: the lesson of listening. We will continue to listen within our local Church, well beyond the synod.
To read the full report, visit www.dioceseoftyler.org/synod.