SAN DIEGO — Pastors in the San Diego Diocese are spending the first days of the year organizing how their parishioners will participate in a worldwide Catholic consultation convened by Pope Francis.
Parishes will host the consultations in March. The consultations are at the heart of a process formally called a synod. Pope Francis is inviting all Catholics to “journey together,” listening to each other’s experiences in the Church. And he’s asking them to explore ways the Church can be “more synodal,” that is, inviting greater participation and diversity of the faithful at all levels.
This consultation is important because the insights that emerge will shape how the Church fulfills its mission going forward as it rebuilds and grows.
“Given the wide range of social ills and divisions that plague our human family, it is truly historic that Pope Francis wants to hear from each of us. Just as important is that he wants us to see and hear each other,” said Katrina “Kat” Albrandt, a parishioner at The Immaculata Parish and member of the Diocesan Synod Commission in San Diego.
“This synod provides a Holy Spirit-filled moment for authentic encounter in our diverse diocese. It invites each of us to listen and discern — to open our hearts as brothers and sisters in Christ, to choose what is right, and to embrace the social mission of our Church.”
The diocese will hold the synod in three phases. The first, October 2021 to August 2022, will focus on “encounter”; August to October of 2022 will be a time to “discern”; and the final phase, October 2022 to May 23, will be one of “action,” in which the diocese will begin to implement the proposals that emerge from the first phase.
The “encounter” phase calls for six to eight people to gather in a small circle for 75 minutes or so to listen to one another as they share their experiences in the Church and their hopes for it. They will be people in the pews, clergy, religious and seminarians, as well as individuals who have stopped actively participating in the faith or are living on the margins of society.
The participants also will come from a wide variety of groups, including service-oriented organizations, ecclesial groups, cultural Catholic communities, and agencies serving new migrants and refugees. The groups will begin to hold their consultations in March.
Staff and parents from the diocese’s Catholic schools also will be invited to participate.
Parishes will invite their parishioners to register to participate through their website or electronic media. Some parishes may hold the consultation on one day, hosting multiple circles to accommodate all of those who registered. Others may host small-group circles on two or more days and times. Still others may organize the circles around language use, scheduling them on a day when it makes sense for them. The circle discussions will be held in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
The latest information, videos, and more about the diocese’s synod is available at sdcatholic.org/synod, @DioceseSanDiego on Facebook, and #SDCatholics on Instagram.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Jan. 5, 2022 to reflect a change in the month the parishes will hold their consultations, March. The consultations were originally planned for February but delayed due to the surge in coronavirus cases.