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Parishes working to respond to faithful’s views

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SAN DIEGO — Last fall, the diocese surveyed the faithful to gather their views about what was most important to them in their faith, their parish and the greater Church. In April, pastors received information on how their own parishioners answered those questions.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy has asked the pastors to use that information, along with the results of the small-group sessions held at their parishes last spring, to implement at least two initiatives or changes to address the concerns their parishioners had expressed.

The concept of inviting all community members to share their views, Church leadership listening to them, and then working together to bring about change is at the heart of a worldwide consultation, or synod.

Pope Francis launched that initiative in 2021, and the formal process is to conclude next year at the Vatican. However, the work of the synod — creating a welcoming, participatory culture at all levels of ministry — is to continue, with the goal being the renewal of the Church.

The San Diego Diocese began the action phase of the synod in January, with pastors developing plans for their parish to respond to the needs identified by their parishioners.

Some parishes have already made changes, including launching new Masses or programs.

One of the themes parishioners will explore in the coming months as part of the synod is how they can become a Eucharistic community. That’s a focus of the Catholic Church in the United States, which launched the National Eucharistic Revival last year “to renew the Church by kindling a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”

Last fall, parishes across the diocese highlighted the Blessed Sacrament during a program presented at every parish. This year, the faithful will be invited to gather once more in small groups at their parish, school or ministry from Oct. 1 to 31 to share their experiences when participating in the Eucharist.

“We anticipate that this will be another positive, productive opportunity to listen, learn, and share with each other regarding our faith and what it means to be in community with one another,” said Robert Ehnow, director of the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice and an organizer of the synod.

At the diocesan level, several members of the diocese’s Pastoral Council traveled to El Centro on April 4 to meet with the diocese’s Imperial Valley Synod Commission. Cardinal McElroy chaired the meeting, held at St. Mary’s Church, also attended by Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano.

The idea was to review together the results of the survey and for the council members to listen to the commission members’ experiences, concerns and joys in serving the faithful in the Valley. Several council members proposed having their individual parishes work with Valley ones to jointly address the priorities expressed in the synod survey.

At the end of what he described as a “fruitful and enriching conversation,” Cardinal McElroy announced that the two groups would aim to meet in person once a year to listen to one another.

More information can be found in English at sdcatholic.org and in Spanish at sdcatholic.org/sinodo.

This story was updated on May 16 to reflect the dates the parishes and schools will hold another round of small-group sessions.

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