Bishop Burns opens Diocese of Dallas synodal process with Mass and family festival
By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
COPPELL — Past, present and future.
Signs of all were present on Dec. 12 at St. Ann Catholic Church as with the celebration of a Mass on the Third Sunday of Advent, which also recognized the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Edward J. Burns formally opened the preparatory phase of the Diocese of Dallas Synod 2024.
“This is a very historic moment in the history of the Church in the Diocese of Dallas,” Bishop Burns told the 1,500 faithful on hand at the Coppell parish to witness the opening of the synodal process and celebrate at the family festival that followed. “On this Gaudete Sunday, let us rejoice that God has called us to this task.”
The multi-year synod marks the third for the diocese. The other two — in 1912 and 1934 — were called by Bishop Joseph P. Lynch. Honoring his predecessor’s shepherding of the diocese, Bishop Burns carried Bishop Lynch’s crosier during the celebration of the Mass. In addition, two relics of Our Lady of Guadalupe were in the sanctuary to honor the patroness of the diocese: a tilma and a rock from Tepeyac. The tilma is one of six relics commissioned by Pope St. John Paul II that were placed on the original tilma and sent throughout the world. The rock, a gift to the University of Dallas, is from the hill where San Juan Diego witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“With these relics, we bind ourselves so close to the history, the traditions of the past, the great gift of salvation, and we are mindful that we are embarking on a new day and the bright future of this diocese,” Bishop Burns said.
The bishop also noted that the celebration took place on the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, a time to rejoice.
“Indeed, let us rejoice for the wonderful gifts God has given to this Diocese of Dallas,” he said. “And let us never grow complacent, let us never become lukewarm, and pray that we will keep the momentum of the mission of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the message of the Gospel alive in our hearts, in our families, in our parishes and in this community.”
In his homily, Bishop Burns offered a brief history of the two prior synods. He noted that the first synod, among other things, confirmed the decrees of the Council of Baltimore as well as the canons of canon law, the universal law of the Church. At that synod, Bishop Lynch also divided the diocese, which encompassed the northern half of the state of Texas, into deaneries: East Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo and El Paso. The topics of the second synod consisted of clerics in general, clerics specifically, laity, sacraments, sacramentals, catechetical instruction, sacred places and times, divine worship, the magisterium of the church, temporal goods, facilities of priests, procedures of matrimonial cases, and chancery regulations.
“What we find was that the first synod was an opportunity for Bishop Lynch to embark on how this Church in north Texas was going to take place,” Bishop Burns explained. “The second synod…was a chance for the shepherd of the Church…to look with the faithful and his priests on how best to strengthen the Church in this local community.”
With calling the third diocesan synod, Bishop Burns said he recognizes the need to renew and embrace the apostolic mission in the Diocese of Dallas.
“The great love that I have for the many cultures that make up this diocese, the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we will bind ourselves ever closer to His love and to His mission,” Bishop Burns said. “I have acknowledged over and over again how proud people are to be Catholic in the Diocese of Dallas. That fuels me as the bishop of this diocese to do all the more so that we may continue to grow as the Catholic Church and how we can serve the people in this larger community because we are indeed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Following Communion, the bishop, joined by diocesan Chancellor Gregory Caridi at the altar, read, signed and sealed the decree commencing the preparatory phase of the Diocese of Dallas Synod 2024. The two-year preparatory phase will include catechetical and formation sessions as well as numerous listening sessions throughout the diocese to give Bishop Burns an opportunity to hear the voices of the faithful. The actual synod meeting will be held in 2024 followed by an implementation phase where the diocese will act upon any resolutions approved by the bishop. This will all culminate on Dec. 12, 2031, coinciding with a celebration of the 500th anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s appearance to San Juan Diego.
“This is the third Sunday of Advent. This is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is the start of the synod of the Diocese of Dallas 2024,” Bishop Burns said. “We will prepare ourselves for the encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. We will prepare ourselves for Christmas. We will prepare for the synod in 2024. We will prepare ourselves to embrace all that discipleship has in store for us.
“And through this synodal process, we will bring others to Jesus Christ.”