The Diocese of Raleigh continues to respond to Holy Father Pope Francis’ call, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” a two-year process of preparation for the 2023 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Nearly 6,000 people in the diocese, including those no longer affiliated with the Church, those from other faiths or no particular faith, responded to a web-based questionnaire used to gather information and to issue randomly selected invitations to those open to attending in-person listening and dialogue sessions. Beginning this month, the diocese will host eight listening sessions, four each in English and Spanish, in Elizabeth City, Greenville, Raleigh and Shallotte.
In the meantime, many parishes and campus ministry centers are hosting their own listening sessions. Together with information gathered from the electronic questionnaires, reflections on the processes of listening and the fruits from listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit will be summarized as the Diocese of Raleigh’s contribution to the 2023 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
“The purpose of this process is to listen and journey together,” said Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama. “Despite our differences or our own agendas, we are one body of the Church. What is said is important. Each voice, each idea, is important. And I ask you to join me in praying that in listening, not just to each other but to what the Holy Spirt is asking of us, this journey will be fruitful.”
Each diocese has been called upon to create opportunities for listening and dialogue on the parish and diocesan levels. The processes implemented in each diocese will be followed by national and regional discussions leading to the Synod itself, which will take place in Rome in 2023. Gatherings of leaders have been a part of Church history since its earliest beginnings, usually distinguished as a “council” or a “synod.” While the results of a council are binding to the universal Church, a synod typically focuses on new approaches to issues, rather than binding law.
December 2021 – February 2022: Information gathering via electronic questionnaire
February 2022: Presbyteral Consultation (meeting of all diocesan priests)
March 2022 – June 2022: Diocesan Listening Sessions (various times and locations throughout the diocese)
June – July 2022: Compiling and summarizing the survey responses, diocesan listening session responses, and parish level reports
August 2022: A summary report from the Diocese of Raleigh due to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Fall 2023: 2023 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome
Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at councils, synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (560 - 636). As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2023, we invite the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.
Prayer for the 2023 Synod Process: Adsumus Sancte Spiritus
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your Name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of Truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.