Pope Francis invited the Catholic Church throughout the world to participate in preparations for the next Synod of Bishops in Rome, in October 2023. A Synod of Bishops, from the Greek word “to journey together,” is a gathering of bishops called by the Holy Father to reflect and to offer counsel on important pastoral matters in the life of the Church. The 2023 Synod will be on the subject of “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”-that is, on synodality. Synodality concerns the People of God journeying together, and reflecting together on the journey, so as to live communion, to achieve participation, and to be open to the mission.
In preparation for the Synod, Pope Francis asked that every diocese undertake its own Synodal Phase of local consultations: through prayerful listening and discernment rooted in the Holy Spirit, the entire People of God is called to contribute to an undertaking by which the Church deepens in understanding of Her mission and looks toward the future.
Everyone in the Diocese of Arlington was invited to participate in the Diocesan Synodal Phase, which involved in-person Listening Sessions at the local level: in parishes, at universities and schools, at Catholic Charities, and at other locations.
Thank you to everyone who could attend the listening sessions on March 27, 2022, and April 10, 2022. Approximately 40 members of the OLGC community (Oblates, staff, and parishioners) assembled to share their “journey together” to grow in faith. Fr. Matthew Hillyard welcomed the participants; Tina Wickham, Pastoral Council President, facilitated the discussion. Click this link to review the answers we sent to Bishop Burbidge.
Bishop Burbidge prepared a report summarizing the proceedings of these sessions and shared it with Synod organizers. The purpose of these sessions was not to reexamine unchanging Church teaching on matters of faith and morals, but to discuss how the timeless Gospel is lived out in the concrete circumstances of our time.
To view all the details from the Diocese of Arlington visit www.arlingtondiocese.org/synod/.
These were the questions:
- What experiences of “journeying together” in your diocese and parish bring you joy and hope?
- What difficulties and obstacles have you encountered to “journeying together” in your diocese and parish?
- How do we most effectively witness to the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Gospel?
- How effective are we in our three-fold mission of proclaiming and teaching the faith, of celebrating the liturgy and sacraments, and of service in charity?
- How do all the members of the Church–laity and clergy–collaborate in their common mission?
- How well do we dialogue–listen attentively and speak up candidly–within the Church and with the wider community?
Through the synodal process, the people of the Diocese of Arlington, along with the whole Church throughout the world, will grow in deepening our commitment to proclaiming, celebrating, and living the Gospel.
What is Pastoral Strategic Planning?” It is a 5-month process where those involved in the Missions of our Community have been looking at What we do right, What needs improvement? and What else would we like to be doing in the future? Since late November 2016 the OLGC Staff and Community have been busy working on the OLGC Pastoral Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 18-22.
- This process started with the staff baselining information and then seeking the guidance of the Pastoral and Finance Councils. With their guidance concerning Values and Visions, there were Mission Planning meetings seeking input in the Five Missions: Liturgy and Worship; Faith Formation; Fellowship; Outreach; and our School.
- These “Teams” then shared their findings and sought input to determine the priorities for the next five years. The parish community provided feedback from over 500 members, providing more than 657 surveys and 338 written comments to be analyzed! We had more than 204 people who wanted to be contacted about their survey. 124 people raised their hands to volunteer, so we have been very busy working through those details!
- This input included many great ideas that have been included in the strategic initiatives. The information has already influenced our annual budget and many of the activities of today.
- The final consolidated plan was published September 9th, 2022. We asked the community to review it and let the Pastoral Council know what you think. They adopted the Plan at the September 11th meeting.