By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
ROCKWALL — Elvia Reyes said faith drew her to join more than 250 others at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church on Nov. 30 for the first in a series of Diocese of Dallas synod catechetical and formation sessions.
“It’s absolutely important that I share and I give back in every way possible to Jesus,” said Reyes, who has been a parishioner at the Rockwall parish for more than 40 years. “I think we should always be open and ready to give of His love and truly serve whether people are Catholic or not. We must convince others and be true testimony. It’s very important for us Catholics.”
The Rockwall event was the first of four planned sessions. Future sessions are planned for Jan. 8 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waxahachie, Jan. 20 at St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen, and Feb. 15 at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch. Register for any of the sessions by visiting www.cathdal.org/synod-cs.
The sessions, prepared by the Diocese of Dallas Ministries Office and rooted in prayer, are being held by the diocese as an opportunity to offer catechesis to help the faithful of the diocese better understand the diocesan synod itself and their role in it as well as to address the questions that have been presented by Pope Francis for his synod on synodality.
The session included the praying of the rosary in multiple languages, catechesis on the diocesan synod, small group dialogues about the diocesan synod and the synod on synodality and a question-and-answer period.
“These catechetical sessions are preparing us to journey together to meet the needs of our diocese and to bring us deeper into mission,” said Father John Bayer, O. Cist., a member of the diocesan synod preparatory commission who offered the welcome to those in attendance on Nov. 30. “With the many challenges we face in the Church and in our world, now is a very special time for people of faith, hope and love.”
In addressing those in attendance, Bishop Edward J. Burns explained why in his pastoral letter, “The Journey Through Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost: Diocesan Synod and Post-Pandemic Plan for the Diocese of Dallas,” he called for a multi-year synodal process.
“We wanted to have time to offer listening sessions throughout the diocese” said Bishop Burns, discussing the size of the diocese and the need for two years leading up to the actual synod meeting in 2024. “We wanted to have plenty of opportunities to hear from the faithful. We will then consolidate all the material we got from the listening sessions and then pull forth resolutions for the synod meeting.”
Following the synod meeting in 2024 will be a time of implementing decisions and resolutions that are approved, Bishop Burns explained. In addition, the bishop said it will be a time of preparation for the faithful in the diocese.
“We are going to be preparing, at this time, ourselves spiritually for 2031,” the bishop said. “When I say preparing ourselves, we are going to have renewal and revivals within our Church so as to rejuvenate us in our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
While the multi-year process may prompt some to ask why it will take so long, Bishop Burns said it is necessary for the synod’s success to offer opportunities for all to participate.
“It’s going to become a part of us and who we are as a Church,” he said.
For Reyes, a mother of four whose children attend or have attended St. Pius X Catholic School and Bishop Lynch High School, that means focusing on the faith of future generations.
“I worry about the future Catholics, the future faithful. Where are they now? Where are they today? Those who are still in their conversion and on the way, do we have everything in place for them and what they need for years to come?” Reyes said.
“I’m here to put my part in for the future – the future generations, the future of our church and the future of our faith.”