Walking together: parishes schedule listening sessions for synod
FORT WORTH — Parishes in the Diocese of Fort Worth are scheduling listening sessions in preparation for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will discuss the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission.”
Currently, more than 50 listening sessions, which begin March 15 and continue through April 9, have been scheduled as part of the diocesan phase of the synod. The list of parish listening sessions can be found at fwdioc.org/synod-date-time-parish-listening-sessions, and it will be updated as more listening sessions are scheduled.
All parishioners are welcome to participate in a parish listening session. Several resources for the synod, including discussion questions and a preparatory document, are available on the diocesan website, fwdioc.org/synod.
Discussion questions will center around the concept of the Church as a people of God journeying together in a life of faith oriented toward God, neighbor, and self.
If a parishioner is unable to attend a listening session but wishes to submit individual comments, a survey is available at surveymonkey.com/r/57VTC2Z.
After each parish listening session, the parish will submit a report to the diocese, which will compile the responses. Bishops’ conferences will assimilate the diocesan feedback for the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023.
Challenged by Pope Francis to “listen to the questions, concerns, and hopes of every church, people, and nation,” the Diocese of Fort Worth joins other dioceses around the world by participating in the Synod on Synodality, which focuses on listening and consulting with the People of God.
Father Jonathan Wallis, vicar general for the Diocese of Fort Worth, is helping to coordinate the synod response for the Diocese of Fort Worth. He said in a NTC interview in October 2021 that the Vatican hopes for the widest, most diverse participation possible and “we will certainly do our best to make this happen at our local level.” Listening session are being held in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, and in rural and urban parishes.
He continued, “We will all have the opportunity to meet each other as created by the Father, redeemed by Christ, and led by the Holy Spirit.”
The word “synod” is of Greek origin and means “meeting of people.” After the Second Vatican Council in 1965, St. Pope Paul VI established the Synod of Bishops — a permanent structure with regular meetings that offers advice and recommendations on given topics suggested by the Holy Father. Priestly formation, evangelization in the world, and marriage and family life are some of the issues tackled by bishops in previous synods.
The purpose of the synod, as outlined in the Vatican preparatory document, is not to produce documents. “Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission,” the preparatory document said.
Furthermore, Pope Francis has emphasized that the sessions are a time to listen to God and to each other.