By Dc. Tom Cuskey, editor

The synodal process, initiated locally in the diocesan listening sessions that took place in 2021 and 2022, has moved now to the next stage as the Universal Church prepares for its gathering in Rome later this year.  

Sr. Katie Eiffe, the diocesan director for synodal planning, explains that this next step, the continental phase, “is really not unlike the purpose of the whole synod, which is to listen to listen deeply, to discern how the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, in this time, what the Holy Spirit is calling us to.” 

Sr. Katie and Bishop Douglas J. Lucia met on a recent Saturday morning at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Baldwinsville with clergy and parishioners who primarily represented Vicariate 1 (northern Onondaga and Oswego County parishes). Subsequent meetings in other vicariates have been scheduled as well. 

Sr. Katie explained that, as with the listening sessions, there is a working document that will reflect the contributions of participants in this next phase.

“The difference between these sessions and the original listening sessions is to be a bit more conversational,” she says. “The bishop may choose to respond a little more than he did in the first session. It’s all part of the process preparing for the Synod of Bishops in October of this year, and other dioceses will be doing the same things.”

Bishop Lucia addressed the gathering as well, adding that the working document will be a summary of conversational sessions like this one held throughout the United States and Canada. Similar reports will also be submitted to the Vatican from other continental regions. Given the weekend’s Scripture readings when this session was held, Bishop drew timely parallels to the original Epiphany experience of the three wise men and their visit to Bethlehem.

“Just like the Magi; when they encountered the Lord Jesus, it changed the entire direction of their lives,” Bishop told the gathering. “That’s where we are … it’s really all about intentional discipleship, that we’re called to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. And that’s meant to be reflected in how you and I live.”

Following the introductory explanations, attendees broke into small group discussions focusing on three questions relevant to the synodal process: 

  1. What has been your experience of the Church of Syracuse ‘journeying together’ during the initial phases of the synodal process?
  2. Though we are many parts, how can we better reflect the presence of the Risen Christ – as His body – in the 21st Century?
  3. What continues to be ‘on your mind and on your heart’ as you participate in the synodal process? What continues to be your hopes, your dreams and your ‘wounds’ as you think about our Church?

One member from each table reported on their group’s conversation on the questions. Those comments will be assimilated into the final diocesan report from this stage. 

Bishop Lucia cautioned those who might think that this is just an exercise focused solely on discussion and personal agendas with no action taken. 

“The only agenda here is the Gospel,” Bishop assured all present. “And the only agenda really is calling the Church to discipleship.” 

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