By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
ALLEN — An energy reverberated throughout the room as more than 350 people gathered at St. Jude Catholic Parish Jan. 20 for the third in a series of Diocese of Dallas Catechetical and Formation Sessions.
“It’s an historic moment for our diocese,” said Audrey Hair, who traveled from nearby McKinney where she is a parishioner of St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church. “It’s just wonderful to be here together with the people of God to talk about the plans for this diocese and to respond to Pope Francis’s call.”
Bishop Edward J. Burns called for a synod with the release of his pastoral letter, “The Journey Through Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost – A Post-Pandemic Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Dallas,” in February 2021.
A diocesan synod is called when the bishop of a diocese feels that there is a particular need or particular circumstance. Bishop Burns called a synod specifically to discuss concerns of the faithful in order to accomplish a renewal of the Diocese of Dallas’s apostolic mission
The multi-year synodal process officially got underway on Dec. 12, 2021 with a family festival and celebration of a Mass opening the preparatory phase.
The catechetical sessions, developed by the Diocese of Dallas Ministries Office, are a part of that preparatory phase. The final catechetical and formation session is set Feb. 15 at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch. Register for the session at cathdal.org/synod-cs.
“It’s a process that Bishop Burns started as a way of really consulting the grace of the Holy Spirt that exists in the hearts of the faithful here in the Diocese of Dallas to determine the best way to proclaim the Gospel, to draw others to Jesus Christ and to share in his life and mission in the world,” said Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly, who was in attendance at the Allen session.
Each session includes catechesis and formation about the synodal process, praying of a multilingual rosary, small-group discussions and a question-and-answer period with Bishop Burns.
“It was very educational,” said Francis Rey Hipolito, a parishioner at St. Jude. “I learned so much about the synod process and why Bishop Burns called for one.”
The diocese will begin hosting synod listening sessions in March. Each of those sessions, which will continue over the next two years, will be associated with a particular theme such as Marriage and Family, Liturgy and the Eucharist, and Sacraments and Sacramental Preparation.
Bishop Kelly said it will be vital for the faithful in the diocese to take part in the sessions.
“The bishop wants to hear their voices,” said Bishop Kelly, adding that the diocese would also like to hear from those who are disaffected from or even outside the Church. “He wants to hear from as many people as possible to help guide him in the governance of the diocese over the next 10 years.”
The listening sessions will lead up to the second phase of the synod, which will be the actual synod meeting that will take place in 2024. At the synod meeting, the synod body, which includes clerics, lay people and guests selected according to canon law and by the bishop personally, will discuss the responses of the lay faithful and vote on the resolutions that were compiled by the synod preparatory commission.
The implementation phase will begin following the synod meeting. During this time, implementation of any synod resolutions approved by the bishop will take place. The conclusion of the implementation phase will coincide with Dec. 12, 2031, the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to San Juan Diego.
For her part, Hair said she looks forward to participating in the synodal process after participating in the Allen session.
“I think that it is essential that people are involved. We need to have voices and representation from all over the diocese to say what they feel, what they can do and what they would like to see from the bishop,” she said. “This hasn’t happened since the 1930s. It’s wonderful to update the process so we can figure out what we are doing now and what we can do in the future.”
Editor’s note: To learn more about the Diocese of Dallas Synod, visit www.cathdal.org/synod.