The first of 11 Diocesan Listening Sessions for the Diocesan Phase of “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” was a very well received.
Some 90 people participated in the Session, which was held Feb. 9, 2022, at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota. The format, with an opening prayer and introduction from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, smoothly transitioned into group table discussions on the key questions posed by the Synod.
Bishop Dewane said during his opening remarks that the idea of the Listening Sessions is to provide the opportunity for the faithful to respond to key questions from the Holy Father and to dream about the Church. “By the end of our time together this evening we aim to capture your answers to the basic questions that are posed. What is it the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today? It’s important for us to listen to one another and as a community discern what it is God is calling us to do.”
The Bishop also encouraged everyone to be honest and open about their real-life experiences of sharing the faith in the Diocese of Venice. “We hope to weave together new and personal relationships; to learn from one another; to build bridges; to enlighten minds; to warm hearts; and to restore strength in the common mission that we all share.”
This first Diocesan Listening Session, as with all of the Sessions, was defined by and limited to 90 minutes. The Session concentrated on five of the 10 total Synod questions. This is being done to allow each table time to compile their thoughts and share their findings in response to the questions. Even with that focus, some tables were hard pressed to answer all five questions in the time allotted. The questions, proposed in the Vatican Synod document, being considered during each Listening Session will be rotated to allow for a balanced reflection by the faithful during the Diocesan Phase in preparation for the Synod.
During the St. Thomas More Listening Session, the feedback was both frank and very informative as each table shared their views of the Catholic Church at their Parish, Diocesan, national and even global level. These views included how the Church is reaching out to people as well as areas where more can be done to reach the marginalized.
The first category which is under consideration is “Companions on the Journey,” which elicited penetrating observations. As God’s children, we are all together on our journey toward Salvation. How, and if, each person’s voice is heard on that journey is what the Synod is trying to address.
Overall, the first Listening Session revealed the good news that the faithful are eager to have a voice in the Church and need an outlet for their voices to be heard.
Bishop Dewane said at the conclusion of the evening that these Listening Sessions are critical to shaping the Church for the next millennium and that what was being said at all Sessions will be heard and taken to heart by him, as the Shepherd of the Diocese. The Bishop also expressed his appreciation to all for their presence and for the comments which they set forth.
Each session is being recorded to allow for a proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are to be held across the globe.
To allow for the most participants, Listening Session locations were selected based on geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible. Please register at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. This site also has a complete list of all Listening Sessions. Email email@example.com for any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions.