By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
A familiar face to many throughout the Diocese of Dallas has been appointed as the Chair of the Synod Preparatory Commission.
Following the resignation of Jason Deuterman from the post in July to accept a position outside of the diocese, Bishop Edward J. Burns announced that Lacy de la Garza will now oversee the synod preparation with the help of a preparatory commission. She will work closely in this role with Chancellor Gregory Caridi and with Peter J. Ductrám, senior director of ministries.
“Lacy is extremely talented. Her organizational skills and experience as director of parish and community relations for Catholic Charities Dallas are extremely valuable in the synod planning process,” Bishop Burns said. “I am very grateful to Dave Woodyard at CCD for sharing Lacy so that she can lead this very important effort for the Diocese of Dallas.”
In his Feb. 19 pastoral letter, titled “The Journey Through Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost — A Post-Pandemic Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Dallas,” Bishop Burns announced the synod process and laid out plans for a 10-year process that will culminate in a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to San Juan Diego.
A diocesan synod itself is a special gathering of clergy and faithful for the purpose of offering assistance to the bishop in setting the direction for ministry in the diocese for the future.
De la Garza currently serves as director of parish and community relations for Catholic Charities Dallas, a role she will continue while overseeing synod preparation and one that she believes has prepared her for this new ministry.
“I know that I have gifts and talents of connecting people and communicating well with people. I care very passionately about integrating faith and service for the diocese and I believe that there is a beauty in offering that to people,” de la Garza said. “I think that is what God called me to do in a very specific way.”
De la Garza is no stranger to many within the diocese, having served in roles at Catholic Charities since 2017 as well as working as lead admission counselor at the University of Dallas from 2012-2017, president of the Dallas chapter of Young Catholic Professionals from 2018-2019 and as a coordinator for the Catholic Pro-Life Community’s Rachel’s Vineyard from 2011-2013. She attended the University of Dallas, both in Irving and abroad on the Rome campus, where she received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology.
De la Garza believes her past work within the diocese, especially with Catholic Charities, gives her a unique understanding that will benefit her in her synod role.
“I understand the unique needs of our counties in ways that I would not have ever understood had I not been living and breathing that in this particular Catholic Charities role for the past three-and-a-half years,” explained de la Garza, adding that her extensive work with volunteers throughout the diocese also offers her useful insight and connections. “I know that there are a lot of really wonderful people here who I’ve met, and a great majority of them want to come, help and be a part of solution. I know how to activate and work with volunteers in a particular way and get to the heart at what someone is good at, putting them in a situation where they can use those gifts and talents well.”
As chair of the synod preparatory commission, de la Garza will work under the guidance of Bishop Burns in setting the direction of preparation for the 10-year synod process.
“I will work with a preparatory commission — a group of people who have a passion for seeing the Dallas diocese becoming the best version of what it can be,” she said. “It is my responsibility to coordinate the planning portion of the synod, to implement that planning portion of the synod, and to help execute the actual synod.”
While efforts continue for the Dec. 12 kickoff event for the synod, focus is also being placed on plans for the upcoming synod listening sessions, which de la Garza called vital components of the synod process.
“This synod will be nothing without the voices of the people that we’re trying to serve,” she said. “The point of this is to unify around things that we recognize need to change and celebrate the things that we do well.”
De la Garza added that as people become involved they will begin to see the beauty of the diocesan synod process.
“This is a true opportunity to recognize where we can grow as a diocese. It’s hopefulness, and it’s joy,” she said. “One theme of bishop’s pastoral letter that keeps coming to my mind is ‘see how they love each other.’ And this phrase he quotes from scripture is a motivation to me to be that example for the world.”
As the synod process gets under way, de la Garza said there is a lot of opportunity within the local Church due to a vibrancy that doesn’t exist in other places in the country.
“In the Diocese of Dallas, we have a unique spirit of activeness — we are an active people. We give of ourselves. We give our time. We give of our treasures. We give of our ideas. The capacity that exists within this diocese is truly untapped,” she said.
Stepping into the synod role, de la Garza looks to help the diocese tap into that spirit of activeness, making the most of her gifts and others.
“There is a beauty in being activated in the gifts that God has given you and recognizing that you have the capacity to change the life of someone,” de la Garza said. “The fact that I get to do that for a whole diocese is truly, truly humbling.”
To learn more about the Diocese of Dallas synod, visit cathdal.org/synod.