Bishop Douglas J. Lucia, in his ongoing preparation for the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held 2023, has been listening to the people of God throughout the Diocese in a series of listening sessions. In the preparatory document for the Synod, Pope Francis has exhorted that these listening sessions be open to all—including and especially those “on the margins” of the Church … those who for whatever reason may feel unwelcome in or alienated from the Church.

Recalling Pope Francis’ words that the purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts (and) give strength to our hands,” Bishop Lucia has scheduled three special listening sessions for people who might be willing to come to such a session—people who may once have been active in their parishes, but are no longer; people whose circumstances or experience may have been a source of felt exclusion or lack of welcome.

The sessions will be held at 1 p.m. on three Sundays during Lent:

  Sunday, March 13, for the Southern Region at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton.

  Sunday, March 20, for the Eastern Region at Notre Dame High School in Utica.

  Sunday, April 3, for the Western and Northern Regions at Bishop Harrison Center in Syracuse.

All of us have friends and family members who may once have been active in their parishes, but are no longer.  All of us know friends and family members whose experience of Church may have left them wounded. Our hope is that the readers of the Catholic Sun will reach out to those friends and family members to invite, welcome and if possible accompany them to one of these listening sessions.

The listening sessions offer the hope that through listening to one another, we may all come to experience the presence of the Risen Lord, and to help the Church to fulfill Pope Francis’ dream of a listening, welcoming—synodal—Church. We are God’s people, witness to the presence of the Risen Christ in our lives, and to live in love as he has loved us.

As Bishop Lucia has said: “Come! We are listening!”

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