By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
IRVING — For Lysette De La Torre, attending a Diocese of Dallas Synod listening session at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church on April 15 presented an opportunity to learn more about her diocese and her faith.
“Our parish is growing. We are in the process of building a new sanctuary, and it’s just an exciting time,” said De La Torre, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Plano who attended the listening session with her husband, Cesar. “I think it’s important to just get more involved in our church. I also want to learn how I can welcome more people into our faith.”
The couple was joined by more than 100 other Catholics at the listening session, which focused on the topic of Sacraments and Sacramental Preparation.
In his welcoming remarks to those in attendance, Bishop Edward J. Burns recalled his recent celebration of Holy Week activities at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
“At the Easter Vigil, we welcomed more than 40 people into the church. At one of our parishes in the Diocese of Dallas, more than 80 people were welcomed into the church,” the bishop said. “I share this with you because I think our prayers are being answered.
“Through the televised Mass, I know that a number of people have become very interested in the Catholic church,” Bishop Burns added. “With it, they have reached out to our parishes.
And with that, they seek an opportunity to enter into a deeper understanding of the Catholic church.”
Bishop Burns said the April 15 listening session was an opportune time to discuss sacramental preparation and how the diocese can help form new Catholics.
Breaking into small groups, participants in the listening session discussed a series of 10 questions covering topics such as their formation experiences, addressing the needs of persons with disabilities in sacramental preparation, marriage preparation, and experiences receiving the sacraments such as the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Confirmation.
In the question-and-answer portion of the session, several submitted questions concerned establishing a consistent standard of faith formation and sacramental preparation throughout the diocese. Bishop Burns said the diocese does want to streamline consistency in the formation and sacramental processes.
“It’s important for us to have something that is consistent so that it doesn’t bring forth confusion among the faithful, especially with as mobile as our parishioners are moving from one parish to another,” Bishop Burns said. “Even the celebration of the sacraments, we must make sure that the options for the celebration of the sacraments are being offered from parish to parish have some consistency. It’s definitely something we need to look at to better serve the people.”
Lacy de la Garza, chair of the Synod Preparatory Commission, said issues like that are exactly why the diocese is having the synod.
“For us to make sure that equitably across the board access to the sacraments is possible is the point of these conversations,” de la Garza said. “What we are doing at these listening sessions is beginning to uncover what are the potential solutions to this very complicated problem.”
As synod listening sessions continue to be held throughout the year, de la Garza said the diocese is also now seeking nominations for delegates for the Diocese of Dallas Synod Assembly in December 2024.
Delegates can be nominated by a parish or people can nominate themselves. All delegates must be available for the entirety of the assembly session, must be a practicing Catholic in good standing with the church, and must agree with Catholic doctrine as the synod is in no way attempting to nor has the authority to change any aspect of church teaching.
Synod delegate nomination forms and more information can be found by visiting synod.cathdal.org/delegate_nomination_process. Nomination does not guarantee selection.
The next Diocese of Dallas Synod listening session will focus on Diocesan Efficiency and Church Governance. It will be held July 22 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas. For more information or to register, visit www.cathdal.org/synod.