SAN DIEGO — Earlier this year, parishes and schools across San Diego and Imperial counties held 1,100 small-group sessions to listen to the faithful’s experiences in the Church and their hopes for its future, in a process called a synod.
The diocese wants to hear from the more than 10,000 who participated in those sessions. It will offer a second opportunity in September to be heard, this time through an online survey to be sent to more than 150,000 people.
Parishes, schools and other Catholic organizations submitted reports to the diocese that summarized the points made by participants in the small-group sessions. They included parishioners, students and individuals living on the margins of society, such as the homeless, new immigrants, farmworkers, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.
The themes that emerged from those sessions serve as the foundation for the questions in the survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. The diocese will conduct the survey in English and Spanish during the month of September, starting after Labor Day.
Afterward, the synod commissions of lay leaders, clergy and religious women will analyze the information from the survey. Their goal will be to develop proposals to address the issues raised collectively by the participants. These will be submitted to Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy as a pathway to bring greater participation of the faithful to all levels of the Church.
Since the beginning of the synod, he has said that the diocese would move swiftly to implement as many proposals as possible to help revitalize and renew parishes and schools after the devastation of the pandemic.
To participate in the survey, individuals need to be registered with their parish or ministry through a communication platform called Flocknote. If they are not, they can get information about how to register by contacting their parish or visiting its website.
The diocese particularly wants to hear from those who are no longer practicing their faith to understand their experiences. Parishes will provide a QR code that links to the survey and that members can share with individuals who no longer attend Mass or have left the Church.
After the group sessions concluded, the diocese developed a report that highlighted the eight themes that emerged from them, four centering on the joys the participants had experienced in the Church and four focusing on the challenges they had faced.
The report is available in English and Spanish in the July issue of The Southern Cross and on the webpage sdcatholic.org/synod, which also presents information about the entire consultation.
The report was submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which in turn will submit a report to the Vatican that synthesizes the information sent in by all dioceses across the country.
In a videotaped message, Cardinal-designate McElroy urged every Catholic to participate in the survey.
“I ask that you join this continued effort to share your experiences with the Church,” he said. “We continue to rely on the Holy Spirit to direct us in furthering the mission of the Church and the people of this diocese. Together, we journey toward renewal.”