The early months of 2022 will see the Diocese and its parishes engaged in a period of intense consultation with the faithful as part of the worldwide Synod on Synodality.
The stage for this important Q&A exercise was set in November and December as more than 500 participants, including priests, deacons, diocesan employees and parish lay leaders, attended orientation sessions to begin their training as facilitators of the Synod consultation. Parish pastors have selected their teams, which are now reviewing a facilitator guide developed by the Diocese.
The guide contains five training modules that cover the meaning of the Synod, preparing to listen, practicing hospitality, active listening and discernment. These resource materials were developed by a Core Team at the Diocese, made up of Chancellor Sister Leticia Salazar, ODN; Dr. Amanda Alexander, Ministry Formation Institute Director; Edgardo Juarez, Ministry with Young Catholics Director; Teresa Rocha from the Office of Catechetical Ministry; Elder Samaniego, Director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection; and Laura Lopez, Director of Pastoral Planning.
The Diocesan Synod Committee is made up of Father David Andel, J.C.L.; Father Benedict Nwachukwu, V.F.; retired diocesan archivist Peter Bradley; St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside parish leader Marcus Jones; Sister Maria Jennifer Nguyen, L.H.C.; Teresa Rocha from the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry; Sister Marilu Covani, S.P.; Deacon Andrew Orozco; Berenice Villa from the Diocesan Ministry with Young Catholics; Father Manuel Cardoza; Vice Chancellor John Andrews; Deacon Antonio Mejico; lay minister Maria Christina Mendez; and Sonia Sanchez from the Ministry Formation Institute of the Diocese.
Bishop Alberto Rojas updated the faithful on the early stages of the Synod process in a November letter, taking a moment to address concerns that had been expressed by some about multicultural elements of the Oct. 17 Opening Synod Mass at Queen of Angels Church in Riverside.
“Some of these expressions may seem quite a departure from what we are accustomed to in our own experience of the Mass,” Bishop Rojas wrote. “They may make some uncomfortable, but that does not mean they are not Catholic.”
Parishes will be free to schedule and structure in-person listening sessions using questions provided in Synod resources from the Vatican and any other questions they believe will be effective. The Diocesan Office of Media has launched a web site sbdiocese.org/Synod that contains facilitator guides, online questionnaires and background documents on the Synod. The Office will also use diocesan social media platforms to post questions and invite followers to post comments and images that reflect their faith journey.
With the diocesan phase of the Synod extended until Aug. 15, the consultation period is expected to last through Lent.
“May this Kairos moment in the church lead the Diocese of San Bernardino to respond fully to the call to journey together as missionary disciples, accompanied by our Mother Mary, who leads all of us to Jesus,” wrote Rocha in a reflection on the Synod process.