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Our Chancellor, Sister Leticia Salazar, ODN, has been selected by Pope Francis to be a voting delegate in the 2023 Synod General Assembly in October. On July 7, the Vatican released the list of participants in the upcoming General Assembly, which had historically been for bishops only. However, for the first time, the Synod of Bishops will welcome religious and laypeople as voting members. In addition to being a part of the historic event, Sr. Leticia is also one of only 10 North Americans listed out of nearly 400 total religious worldwide who were selected to be delegates.

Speaking at a press conference in the Vatican on July 7, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Secretariat for the Synod stressed that the delegates had been selected to produce a “mixture” from various parts of the Church. There will be an even mix of participants from six different continents, and the non-bishop members will be evenly divided by gender.

This incredible news comes at the conclusion of the Continental Stage of the synodal process, which began in October 2021. Sr. Leticia has been a part of the diocesan core team from the very beginning and has played key roles in the different stages of the synodal process, with the goal of listening to one another to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading and with its ability to form a consensus of vision, mission and plan of action.

“I feel grateful and humbled for having had the opportunity to listen to the voices and deepest desires of the people of God, to witness the reality of the Church in the United States and Canada,” Sr. Leticia said.

She will now travel to the Vatican to participate in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod to be held from October 4-29, 2023, to discuss and share what she has gathered from listening to the different levels of the Catholic Church.

“[It has been] a truly humbling experience that fills me with a profound desire to pray and promote a Church with greater transparency, accountability, responsibility: focused on being a Church that goes out in mission, a learning Church, rather than focused on maintenance and conservation,” Sr. Leticia said.

At the 16th General Assembly, Sr. Leticia, along with the other delegates, will assist Pope Francis by providing counsel on important questions pertaining to the assembly’s theme, “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”

According to the Instrumentum Laboris, (the basis for the discernment and discussion for the participants of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly), the three priority issues and the questions that the assembly will discuss are:

  1. A communion that radiates: How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?
  2. Co-responsibility in Mission: How can we better share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel?
  3. Participation, governance and authority: What processes, structures and institutions in a missionary synodal Church?

According to the document, the delegates will be asked to listen deeply to the situations in which the Church lives and carries out its mission. The assembly’s aim will be to continue to animate the synodal process in the ordinary life of the Church, identifying which pathways the Spirit invites us to walk along more decisively as one People of God.

The Synod on Synodality began in 2021 at the Diocesan Level. Sr. Leticia was entrusted with coordinating the process of prayer, reflection and discernment with the Preparatory Document (a tool to facilitate the first phase of listening to and consulting the People of God in particular Churches) and the Vademecum (official handbook for listening and discernment in local churches during the first phase).

Sr. Leticia commented, “We then proceeded to create a “Core Team” with very diverse backgrounds and gifts to design the resources to train leaders for the listening sessions in the 93 parishes in the Diocese, a process that is still ongoing.”

This core team developed a Diocesan Synthesis document that resulted from a two-week discernment with the reflections that came in from parishes and various groups during the listening sessions.

“We proposed to Bishop Rojas a formation process with the voice of the People of God in our Diocese. A formation process to become a Synodal Church. (Ongoing Diocesan Formation Process).”

The core team constructed a diagram in the Diocesan Synthesis to show their proposed formation process and this diagram can be found on the diocesan website at: https://www.sbdiocese.org.

The next level that Sr. Leticia embarked on was at the Regional Level when she was invited to take part in the discernment process in Region XI of the United States episcopal regions, which includes the states of California, Hawaii, and Nevada.

“It was during this process that the reading and reflection of the Diocesan Syntheses of our Region XI began speaking to my heart and transforming it,” she said.

Next for Sr. Leticia was to participate in the listening sessions at the National Level with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Synod Committee.

“In reading, praying and reflecting on the various Diocesan Syntheses of the entire United States, I was able to see the reality of our church, not with a pessimistic look, but listening to the echo of God’s voice inviting us to be the Church God expects us to be…to be and serve ‘al modo de Jesus,’” Sr. Leticia said.

The final level to partake in before the October Synod General Assembly was at the Continental Level. Sr. Leticia participated in the listening sessions of two countries, the United States and Canada. She also participated in the discernment process to work on the Continental Synthesis, which she said, “the process has been personally transformative.”

Through the many listening and discernment sessions throughout the different levels of the synodal process, Sr. Leticia has played a pivotal role. For this, join us in congratulating Sr. Leticia on her historic selection to be a voting delegate and pray for her journey to and participation in the Synod General Assembly at the Vatican this October.

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE.