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Parish to consult faithful in March

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SAN DIEGO — “Our Holy Mother Church needs to hear from all of us.”

Starting in March, she will be listening.

Parishes at the San Diego Diocese plan to hold sessions for their members to be able to share their experiences in the Church and their hopes for its future. The sessions are the heart of a multi-year consultation, formally called a synod, which seeks to listen to Catholics worldwide.

As Cecilia Herrera sees it, not only does the Church “need to hear from all of us,” the faithful have to do their part, too.

“Now it’s our turn to initiate the dialogue with our Church to strengthen the relationship between the Church and her people,” said Herrera, a member of a diocesan commission that is guiding the synod in the Imperial Valley.

The goal of the synod is to ascertain how the Church journeys with her people, invites their authentic communication, listens to their concerns, and promotes their participation in the full life of the Church. In other words, to what extent it functions as a “synodal Church.” The findings are to be used by the Church at all levels to better engage and serve the faithful.

Pope Francis has called for this consultation at a pivotal time, when the Church is working to reinvigorate its mission amid unprecedented challenges, not the least of which is a persistent, deadly pandemic.

At the diocese, the consultation will be carried out in phases. In the first one, parishes will organize small groups, with six to eight people each. The participants will have an opportunity to encounter one another and listen to each other’s experiences and ideas.

Initially, the diocese planned to hold these in-person sessions in February but delayed them one month given the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The faithful who want to participate must register with their parish, which will announce how to do it at Mass, through the bulletin and other means.

The consultation also seeks to hear from members of diverse church-related groups, staff and parents from Catholic schools, clergy and religious women, seminarians and young adults. And it’s making a special effort to invite individuals who live on the margins of society, such as refugees, the homeless and incarcerated.

Each parish will determine what day or days to hold the sessions, which will be in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Herrera, a catechist at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico, has a message for those who have drifted away from the Church.

“This is your opportunity for your voice to be heard,” she said. “Be courageous and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. Your feelings matter and nothing should ever get in the way of your salvation or your relationship with God. Embrace the moment.”

Register for small-group sessions at your parish. For more information on the synod, visit sdcatholic.org/synod.

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