Greetings in the Lord,
As you may have heard, Pope Francis has called for a worldwide synod, asking us to listen as the entire People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. He is asking us to examine how we are journeying with not only the faithful in the pews but those fallen away from the Church and those on the peripheries of society.
In the Diocese of Lansing we are rooting our synodal process in the mission we have already undertaken in recent years, particularly based on Bishop Boyea’s Pastoral Letter, “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord.” In it Bishop Boyea identifies three different groups of people to whom we must focus our pastoral efforts; The Household of Faith, The Lost Sheep and the Court of the Gentiles.
As part of the Diocesan Phase of the synodal process, Pope Francis is asking us to have conversations and consultations with those in our communities in order to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. From these conversations we will collect feedback and synthesize it into a document to be sent to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and then on to Rome. The Pope’s desire and our hope is that this feedback will not only contribute meaningful insights to the Universal Church but also reveal ways that we can better engage in mission here in our own diocese.
Bishop Boyea will be offering a short video homily on the weekend of February 5th and 6th to invite all attending parishes in the Diocese of Lansing to participate in this synod.
As we enter into this process our efforts will be as follows:
- The Lost Sheep. We all know people in our lives who are no longer practicing the faith. We will be providing resources to all of our parishes so that the baptized lay faithful can enter into synodal conversations with those in their own lives and communities in this category. These materials will be distributed to our parishes by the first week of February so that our parishioners can begin having synodal conversations and submit feedback to our Diocesan Synod Web Portal by the end of April.
- The Court of the Gentiles. The same resources sent to parishes to engage the Lost Sheep will be used to enter into conversations with the Court of the Gentiles. If we are called to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” this means we need to be having conversations with those who have not yet heard it and are not engaged in the life of the Church. Those who are not Catholic, and perhaps not even Christian may have something to say to us that can guide our future pastoral efforts. Feedback from these conversations will also be uploaded to the Diocesan Synod Web Portal by the end of April.
- The Household of Faith. Over the last several years, we have had several opportunities to hear from the household of faith. Though the bulk of our effort will be focused on those not currently worshiping with us, we will also be providing resources for the parishes that wish to hold group listening sessions, and ask that our parish pastoral councils and lay staff assist in these.
The first three areas of our synodal efforts are all focused on working with and through our parishes. Pope Francis called for a special emphasis on hearing from those on the margins of community life. In response, we are concentrating additional efforts as follows:
- Agencies. We will be working closely with our Catholic Charities agencies throughout our diocese as well as the Cristo Rey Community Center. Our Catholic Charities agencies often serve those found on the peripheries and the margins of society and so we see this as an opportunity to listen to what they have to say to the Church and to engage with them in a way we are unable through our regular parish outreach. Here we intend to hold both group and individual listening sessions and conversations.
- Hispanic and Latino Outreach. We have many in our diocese who are on the margins in our cities and on our farms who do not have regular access to the pastoral initiatives offered by many of our parishes. Here we are looking to partner with our Hispanic Ministry office and parishes to engage those who are Spanish speaking in our diocese in order to hear what they have to say to the Church.
- Incarcerated. We will be coordinating with our diaconate, many of whom work in prison ministry by helping them to have synodal conversations with the incarcerated persons whom they serve.
In addition to these communities, we invite our parishes or schools to hold other listening sessions to bring a diversity of voices to this synodal process. All voices are welcome as we journey together…
Feedback from these listening sessions will be collected and uploaded to the Diocesan Synod Web Portal by the end of April as well.
Our diocesan synod team will take the month of May to collate and distill all of the feedback received from February through April as well as pertinent feedback from other recent diocesan initiatives and begin writing the document we will submit to the USCCB.
The diocesan synod team will finalize our efforts and submit a 10 page document containing the results of our synodal conversations by June 30.
Be not afraid! Put out into the deep! The scope of the synod may seem overwhelming, yet we are all on this journey together in communion, participation, and mission.
The Diocese of Lansing Synod Team