With the Synod Synthesis now released, a group of diocesan leaders are now taking the 15-page document on the road to present it and reflect on it with the six vicariates of the Diocese.
Beginning with the San Bernardino Vicariate on Oct. 14, the Diocesan Synod Core Team summarized the key themes of the Synthesis – the Centrality of the Eucharist, and the three pillars of Synodal Community, Back-to-Basics and Rules and Policies. They then invited the parish leadership and staff members present to pray, reflect and share with one another around key questions.
“This is the first step in the process of applying [the Synod] in your parish,” said Father David Andel, JV, a member of the diocesan team.
As the groups discussed questions, some themes emerged on the topic of how to build community at the parish level.
“We need to go beyond our comfort zone,” said Caridad Santiago, Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral. “We need to meet our community.”
For others, the key to a strong faith community begins within families.
“The solution is at home – with the family,” said Father Jose Reyes-Cedillo, C.O.R.C., parochial vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in San Bernardino. “We have to evangelize the family.”
Discussion turned to the third pillar of the Synthesis document, “Rules and Policies.” Some participants in the Synod listening sessions last year expressed that church ministers were inflexible and insensitive in their application of rules and policies when presented with the lived realities of families. Marina Herrera, of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, said it is important that the reasoning beyond policies and rules are explained in a meaningful and pastoral way. She cited a recent example at her parish, which has begun to require that parents attend catechism classes with their children.
“I tell [parents], ‘It’s in the best interest of the spiritual life of your children,’ and they say ‘OK,’” Herrera said. “We have a lot of parents coming now.”
In additional to the San Bernardino Vicariate, Synthesis “unfolding” sessions were held with the High Desert Vicariate (Oct. 17), West End Vicariate (Oct. 18), Low Desert Vicariate (Oct. 19) and Hemet Vicariate (Oct. 24). Additional vicariate sessions are scheduled in November and December.
The diocesan Synthesis has been presented to the priests of the diocese at last month’s convocation, to the Presbyteral Council and to the deacons of the diocese at their recent convocation. Deacon Nelson Glass said it is important in this new “unfolding” phase of the Synod that discussions focus on how to put the ideas of the synthesis into practice. He said the competing ideologies that emerged in the listening sessions will continue to be a challenge to unity.
“There’s going to be a struggle between traditionalist thinking and more open-door thinking,” said Deacon Glass, who is assigned to Our Lady of the Assumption parish.
Formation Days centered around different elements of the Synthesis document have been scheduled for Diocesan Pastoral Center employees, beginning Oct. 28 and occurring monthly through November 2023.