By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Outreach and creating a dialogue were the focus of a Diocese of Dallas Synod listening session held Oct. 29 at the KayCee Club in east Dallas. The session addressed the non-Catholic and non-practicing Catholic population within the diocese.
“I am particularly pleased to have this listening session when it comes to talking about those who are not Catholic as well as those who have fallen away,” Bishop Edward J. Burns told the nearly 200 participants at the session. “As the shepherd of this diocese, my goal and my responsibility are to find the lost and bring them back. I take that responsibility seriously. To have this moment is significant as it is a way to enlighten the process with what we can do better as a Church so that Christ’s flock will grow and that the flock of the Good Shepherd will stay united.”
The event was the latest in a series of public listening sessions being held by the diocese as part of the synodal process. The next listening session will be held in January 2023 with a focus on vocations and ministerial formation. Visit www.cathdal.org/synod to see a listing of all future listening sessions as well to register for a session.
The listening session drew a cross-section of participants, including some who had fallen away from the Church for one reason or another.
“Some were angry, but that’s OK…that’s what this session is for,” said Deacon Joe Coleman, who served as a facilitator for one of the small table groups. “I think just having someone who was there to listen means the world to them.”
For Angela Smith, a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Dallas, family ties fueled her desire to attend the listening session. She has one son, Jacob, who is a second-year seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, but others in her close family either are struggling with their faith or are not Catholic.
“It hits close to home, and I want to better understand it all,” Smith said.
Smith was accompanied at the listening session by her mother, Terrie Tellini, also a parishioner at St. Patrick, who expressed similar interest.
“Out of my seven children, only two are currently practicing Catholics. Six of my seven children have married someone outside of the faith and the other one is engaged to someone who is not Catholic,” she said. “I have a lot of interest in what the diocese is doing as far as non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics — looking to see if there are different ways to handle those areas.”
Tellini herself was a convert to Catholicism, who said once she converted, she fell in love with her faith. Now, she hopes these synod sessions will help inspire different ways to make the Catholic faith attractive to others.
“For me, that’s the main goal,” Tellini said. “I want to make being Catholic attractive to those who are being resistant.”
Likewise, her daughter saw it as an opportunity for those in the diocese to both grow and share their faith.
“It’s an opportunity to better witness Jesus to people who either don’t understand our faith or who are hurting,” Smith said.