Final Synod Listening Sessions in May

Time is running out to have your voice heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

To ensure everyone has a voice, the faithful are encouraged to consider attending one of the final four Listening Sessions in May; three of which will be in person, with a Virtual Session to close out the Diocesan Phase.

To date, eight Listening Sessions, starting in February, have been completed throughout the Diocese with hundreds having their voice heard in this process. Each Session has the goal of discerning the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the faithful is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future. The Faithful are encouraged to respond to the Synod with an open heart, mind and soul, the Bishop added.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the faithful, 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 being held across the country and around the globe.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks before lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately by emailing synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Listening Session locations were selected based of geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible and several have been offered in both English and Spanish.

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Listening Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. A link will be provided for those interested in participating in the Virtual Listening Session.

For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Earlier Listening Session

Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

To date, eight in-person Listening Sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

“Pope’s Rabbi” shares stories of friendship, interreligious dialogue

A friendship lasting a quarter-century finds its roots in the Second Vatican Council Declaration Nostrae Aetate (On the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), the important document that called for a fresh and positive relationship between the Catholic and Jewish Faiths.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Pope Francis have served as examples of friendship and interreligious dialogue because they have lived out the call of Nostrae Aetate which acknowledges the Church’s bond with the Jewish people.

Rabbi Skorka was the keynote speaker at the April 3, 2022, gathering of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples. The presentation was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Venice and Jewish Federation of Greater Naples.

“One of the values I learned from my parents and grandparents was that speech between peoples should reflect the way that people ought to relate to each other with moderation, sincerity and honesty,” Rabbi Skorka explained, noting that the friendship with Pope Francis began as an open exchange of ideas with then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Rabbi Skorka was the leading Rabbi in Argentina as Rector of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano (Latin American Rabbinical Seminary), in Buenos Aires.

The Rabbi explained that the Holocaust, and its lasting impacts, was a reality that marked his being since childhood.

“The travails of the Jewish people took palpable form in my family which was decimated by the massacre (of the Holocaust). It was not merely historical fact as a Jew I should remember; what stays with me was the sadness which overwhelmed the members of my family and the many members of the community in which I was a part. The Shoah and anti-Semitism were not simply recounted to me; it was an experience that also shaped me by being imparted by many who suffered in their native Europe.”

When he began his rabbinical studies, Rabbi Skorka learned a great deal about Nostrae Aetate, which was released in 1965 by St. John XIII. While the document was short, it served as a profound and absolute apology for years of divisiveness between the Catholic and Jewish faiths.

Inspired by the knowledge and understanding that no religion is an island, Rabbi Skorka openly wrote about the need for interfaith dialogue. One such article brought the Rabbi and Archbishop into contact, forming a lasting bond centered on the belief that the only way to overcome hatred was through the encounter of the members of different religions and cultures.

The Rabbi went on to say that Pope Francis has a profound ability to identify with the Jewish experience. This was evident in his instinctive understanding from the very beginning that dialogue between Catholics and Jews would become untenable if Catholics harbored any thought of “converting” Jews to Jesus Christ.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane also addressed the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue gathering, talking about the noble mission of the group.

Bishop Dewane said that the advancement of Catholic-Jewish relations comes directly from Nostrae Aetate, which should be celebrated. The document changed the landscape of the Church and was done with prudence and love, started a completely new conversation within the Catholic Church.

This new moment in the Church’s history had its roots in a renewed study of Hebrew and Christian Scripture and other theological developments that had occurred at the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Dewane explained how Pope John Paul II led a revolution that transformed relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. Pope John Paul II was the first Pope to visit a Jewish synagogue and the Western Wall. He then established diplomatic relations with Israel, applying the term “beloved elder brothers” when referring to the Jews.”

The Bishop explained that the development of Nostrae Aetate’s principle themes reshaped specific expression of Catholic Teaching, which had posed obstacles to Jewish-Catholic relations.

“The long road ahead is marked by our two communities of faith in a relatively short time since the Second Vatican Council and has yielded immense fruit and I believe there are practical ways in which we can build on these developments,” Bishop Dewane continued. “We need to share our concerns on an increasingly hostile culture and especially a growing antagonism toward people of faith… We can find a common purpose in standing up against these acts as people of faith… Any one act against faith is too much. We all need to speak up, each one within our tradition, within our faith perspective. In this environment we face today we must also see increased positive collaboration to deepen friendships as we moved forward together.”

Michael Feldman, member of the Catholic Jewish-Dialogue served as the program emcee. Other speakers included Rabbi Frank Muller, Father Bob Kantor of St. Agnes Parish, as well as Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Co-Chairs Luba Rotsztain and Martin Gauthier.

Diocese joins in Act of Consecration for peace

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the Act of Consecration from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, on March 25, 2022, as a “gesture of the Universal Church” to invoke an end to the violence and suffering of the innocents during the war in Ukraine.

Pope Francis wrote to all the Bishops in the world, asking them to join him in offering “a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The Act of Consecration took place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear “the Son of the Most High” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In a nearly full Cathedral, including students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Bishop Dewane remarked how important it was that the faithful gather “as a people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, in response to the Holy Father. We gather to pray for the conflict going on in the Ukraine and the suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Ukraine. It is a Consecration of humanity, as the Holy Father put it – in particular for those in Russia and Ukraine. This is a gesture of not just the Pope, Bishops, or priests, but of the Universal Church.”

The Act of Consecration began at noon, to coincide with the prayers in Rome of the Holy Father. The Diocesan prayer service was livestreamed and available on the Cathedral website and on social media (also available at www.dioceseofevnice.org). Simultaneously, Parishes and Catholic schools throughout the Diocese held their own Prayer services.

For example, students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring joined in the Consecration by praying the rosary. Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers gathered in their courtyard to recite the Act of Consecration. At Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the faithful, as well as students from Incarnation Catholic School joined together. The Consecration also included time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Francis said during remarks from Rome that the consecration “is no magic formula but a spiritual act… It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in Her Heart and abandoning themselves to Her.”

The Holy Father added that the Act of Consecration “means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that She, the Mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us.”

Bishop Dewane added that the Act of Consecration “is about people who are suffering. The Lord calls us to be His instruments and to pray and to call upon our Faith; to call upon Christ; to call upon the saints; to intervene to relieve that suffering that we see so much of – also intervene in that war in Ukraine.”

Following the Act of Consecration, Bishop Dewane said that we should all continue to pray the Act of Consecration, particularly “when you see the images that all of us have been inundated with through media. It is then that we need to stop, move away from that media, and say a prayer for those who suffer.”

Bishop Dewane then celebrated the Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

The practice of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary told three visionaries that God sought to establish the devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world, stating that if this request was not granted, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Pope Francis, and previous Popes, have led various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for example, St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.

The monument sign and the entrances of Catholic Center and Epiphany Cathedral, both in Venice, have small Ukrainian flags as a sign of unity with the people of Ukraine.

Bishop Dewane has stressed the importance of continued prayer for those suffering. Also, the Diocese of Venice has made it possible for the faithful to contribute toward charitable relief and assist in providing humanitarian aid, as well as necessary recovery efforts.

Donations may be sent to the Diocese of Venice, with “Ukraine” indicated in the memo or note line at the following address: Diocese of Venice in Florida, Ukraine Relief, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285, or visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/ and click the donate button.

Diocese to join Pope Francis in solemn Act of Consecration March 25

Karen Barry Schwarz – Special to the Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will join Pope Francis on Friday, March 25, 2022, in “a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The Consecration will take place at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, beginning at noon with the Prayer of Consecration and followed by the Mass. All are invited to participate. The Consecration and Mass will also be livestreamed via Facebook.

At around the same time – 5 p.m. in Rome – Pope Francis will be reciting the Prayer of Consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis has invited all of the world’s bishops to join him in this important moment of prayer.

“It is asked that all the Faithful offer prayer at that time, or some time on March 25, to join in the Consecration,” said Bishop Dewane. (Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/solemn-act-of-consecration-requested-by-pope-francis-to-occur-in-venice-march-25/ for the text for the Act of Consecration in English and Spanish.)

The practice of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary told three visionaries that God sought to establish the devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world, stating that if this request was not granted, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Pope Francis and previous popes have led various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, including Pope St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.

March 25 marks the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear “the Son of the Most High” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

To view the live streamed Mass that Bishop Dewane will celebrate at noon on Friday, March 25, please visit www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice. In addition to prayer, should some want to offer financial assistance for humanitarian aid and recovery efforts in the Ukraine, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/giving.

Jubilee year coming in 2025

Preparations are beginning within the Universal Church for the upcoming Jubilee year, due to be held in 2025.

The Jubilee was announced in late February, and in light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, which left no country unscathed, Pope Francis writes that he has chosen the motto “Pilgrims of Hope,” for the Jubilee.

The Holy Father said his hope is that we can recover “a sense of universal fraternity and refuse to turn a blind eye to the tragedy of rampant poverty that prevents millions of men, women, young people and children from living in a manner worthy of our human dignity.” This highlight of hope by the Holy Father comes at a time of war in the Ukraine.

Pope Francis noted that “the Jubilee has always been an event of great spiritual, ecclesial, and social significance in the life of the Church.” The Holy Father recalled that ever since the year 1300, which marked the first Holy Year, “God’s holy and faithful people has experienced this celebration as a special gift of grace, characterized by the forgiveness of sins and in particular by the indulgence, which is a full expression of the mercy of God.” Initially instituted by Pope Boniface VIII, the Jubilee years were initially every 100 years, and then following Biblical precedent, every 50 years, and finally every 25 years.

Pope Francis then recalled “the Great Jubilee of the year 2000,” describing it as having “ushered the Church into the third millennium of Her history.”

In that regard, the Holy Father continued, St. John Paul II had “long-awaited and greatly looked forward to that event, in the hope that all Christians, putting behind their historical divisions, could celebrate together the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity. Now, as the first 25 years of the new century draw to a close, we are called to enter into a season of preparation that can enable the Christian people to experience the Holy Year in all its pastoral richness.”

The Holy Father said that a significant step on this journey was already taken with the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (2016), “which allowed us to appreciate anew all the power and tenderness of the Father’s merciful love, in order to become, in turn, its witness.”

A key part of a Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door, Pope Francis said. These are special doors at the Vatican, and key Basilicas, which are only opened during Jubilee years. As part of tradition of the Jubilee, the faithful, frequently at the conclusion of a lengthy pilgrimage, draw from the spiritual treasury of the Church by passing through the Holy Door and venerating the relics of the Apostles Peter and Paul preserved in Roman Basilicas. During the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Holy Doors were designated at each Cathedral worldwide, as well as at designated pilgrimage Churches (Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande).

Pope Francis reminds us that true hope is not built on human words or assurances, but on God’s Word and His promise of salvation and eternal life. “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and far-sighted vision. The forthcoming Jubilee can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth that we so urgently desire; that is why I have chosen as the motto of the Jubilee, ‘Pilgrims of Hope.’”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1817) states “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

A request for comments in response to the question “What does hope mean to you?” was shared on social media. Here are a variety of the responses:

  • “Hope inspires confidence for the future.”
  • “Hope is contagious. Hope sparks optimism, optimism creates action and actions driven by hope, bring positive change.”
  • “Hope is the feeling I get when – faced with success, sadness, worry, joy, etc. – I realize that God is truly in control, and all I need is God.”
  • “Hope is wielding confidence in the face of despair.”
  • “Hope represents my beliefs in my Faith and what is instilled in my core and what I not only practice but live. My hope living in today’s world is to totally surrender and uplift all brokenness to the foot of the Cross and in turn I shall see a world that is kind, living in Peace and with total fullness of love in our hearts. That is my hope.”
  • “My hope for the Jubilee year is that a renewed sense of appreciation for marriage as an awesome, holy vocation would sweep across the land. That parents and grandparents would reclaim and celebrate the dignity and duty that comes with Holy Matrimony by occupying that irreplaceable role of forming children in faith. That families would embrace the holy mission to live as disciples and be the light the world so desperately needs so that all may come to know Christ and the saving Gospel.”

Pope Francis said our pilgrimage towards the Jubilee “will express and confirm the shared journey that the Church is called to make, in order to be ever more fully a sign and instrument of unity in harmonious diversity. It will be important to foster a renewed awareness of the demands of the universal call to responsible participation by enhancing the charisms and ministries that the Holy Spirit never ceases to bestow for the building up of the one Church.”

Please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for the latest updates on the coming Jubilee year.

Diocesan Synod Listening Sessions progressing

Three down, eight to go. One quarter of the way through a series of Listening Sessions for the Diocesan Phase of “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” and a clear trend is developing – there is great passion for securing a bright future for the Universal Church.

Some 115 people participated on Feb. 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, and then another 100 participated on Feb. 22 at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. The Bradenton Listening Session was offered in both English and Spanish.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks from Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Sessions transition into group table discussions focusing on some of the key questions posed by the Synod.

Diocesan Listening Sessions are 90 minutes in duration because it is at the end of long workday for many. Each Session concentrates on five of the 10 total Synod themes and related 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, the lively table discussions are periodically unable to answer all five questions in the time allotted. The questions being considered during each Listening Session, which were proposed in the Vatican Synod document, are being rotated to allow for a balanced reflection by the faithful during the Diocesan Phase in preparation for the Synod. When there is time available at the end, individuals can add their comments beyond the table presentation. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately through an evaluation form.

The second main theme which is under consideration is “Listening.” This theme is described by the Synod as follows: “The synodal process necessitates that we, as the People of God, first listen with an open heart and open mind to where the Spirit is calling us and discern to whom we are needing to listen and what steps need to be take to more fully live out our mission.”

Bishop Dewane has stressed during each Session how important it is to respond to the Synod, and the questions posed, in the context of what the Holy Spirit is asking of us, and can only be accomplished with an open heart, mind and soul.

Each session is being recorded to allow for 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, participants are encouraged to only attend ONE Listening Session. Locations for the Session were selected based on geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible. Eight additional in-person Listening Sessions will take place through May and will include a virtual session on a later date which will be announced soon.

For Synod details, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org or email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

A prayer and complete list of all Diocesan Listening Sessions is below

Prayer for the Synod: Adsumus Sancte Spiritus (We stand before You, Holy Spirit)

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.

With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.

We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder. Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.

Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life

and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.

All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time,

in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.

Amen.

Listing of 11 Diocese of Venice Listening Sessions

  • (Completed) Wednesday, Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Wednesday, Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W. Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Tuesday, Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • Thursday, March 3, St. Andrew Parish, 2628 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • Monday, March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • Wednesday, March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • Thursday, March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway (Eng./Sp.).
  • Monday, March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp).

To allow for the most participants, please register for only one Listening Session at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. A virtual Listening Session is in the planning stages and will be announced soon. Email synod@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions.

 

“Synod on Synodality” Listening Sessions Announced

Listening sessions for the Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” have been scheduled and registration is open.

All are invited for an evening listening session about the Catholic Church and your relationship with it. All sessions will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. To allow the greatest number of people the chance to participate, please select a single most convenient location/date. Register here at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions.

The Listening Sessions are as follows:

  • Wednesday, February 9, St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • Wednesday, February 16, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W. Venice (Eng..Sp.);
  • Tuesday, February 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • Thursday, March 3, St. Andrew Parish, 2628 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • Monday, March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • Wednesday, March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • Thursday, March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.);
  • Monday, March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp).

The Synod on Synodality, initiated by Pope Francis in October 2021, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local Dioceses, primarily this will be gathered as listening sessions.

A Synod is a meeting of Bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, in order to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the Pope. The Holy Father wants us to join him in praying, listening, discerning, examining ourselves personally, and the Church communally, to see if we’re truly on the path Jesus has set for His beloved bride, His mystical body, the Church.

Synodality, as defined by the International Theological Commission in 2018, is “the action of the Spirit in the communion of the Body of Christ and in the missionary journey of the People of God.” The term is generally understood to represent a process of discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, involving Bishops, priests, religious, and lay Catholics, each according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation.

The Diocesan Phase of the Synod has the goal of ensuring the participation of the greatest number possible, in order to listen to the living voice of the entire People of God. It is intended that the Diocesan Phase collect the fruits and honest feedback of participants from the local synodal experience, rather than transmitting generic summaries. For this reason, each listening session will be recorded.

This Synod poses the following fundamental question: A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together” (Preparatory Document, 26)?

To help the faithful explore this fundamental question more fully, the following themes highlight significant aspects of “lived synodality” (Preparatory Document, 30). In responding to these questions, it is helpful to remember that “journeying together” occurs in two deeply interconnected ways. First, we journey together with one another as the People of God. Next, we journey together as the People of God with the entire human family. These two perspectives enrich one another and are helpful for our common discernment towards deeper communion and more fruitful mission.

There are 10 themes that are to be explored by the Synodal process:

  1. Companions on the Journey – In the Church and in society, we are side by side on the same road.
  2. Listening – Listening is the first step, but it requires having an open mind and heart, without prejudice.
  3. Speaking Out – All are invited to speak with courage and parrhesia (openness), that is, integrating freedom, truth, and charity.
  4. Celebration – “Journeying together” is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist.
  5. Sharing Responsibility for our Common Mission – Synodality is at the service of the mission of the Church, in which all members are called to participate.
  6. Dialogue in Church and Society – Dialogue is a path of perseverance that also includes silences and sufferings, but which is capable of gathering the experience of persons and peoples.
  7. Ecumenism – The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey.
  8. Authority and Participation – A synodal Church is a participatory and co-responsible Church.
  9. Discerning and Deciding – In a synodal style, decisions are made through discernment, based on a consensus that flows from the common obedience to the Spirit.
  10. Forming Ourselves in Synodality – The spirituality of journeying together is called to become an educational principle for the formation of the human person and of the Christian, of the families, and of the communities.

To assist with planning of the listening session, kindly confirm your attendance by registering at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions.

For questions regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org. Please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for more information about the Synod and links to key documents.

Advent: a continuous call to Hope

The Catholic Church is fast approaching one of the most important seasons of the Liturgical Year: Advent. It is a time which offers us a sense of preparation for the second coming of the Christ Child.

With the pre-Christmas frenzy, it is important to remain watchful. Why? Because, as St. Augustine stated, one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God.

Advent begins on Nov. 28, 2021, the start of the new Liturgical Year, therefore it is appropriate to begin anew and raise one’s heart and mind to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and prepare for the celebration of the anniversary of the Lord’s birth.

“A time of deep prayer and meditation, Advent has an anticipatory mood in which the faithful must learn from the Old Testament of how the Prophets foretold the coming of Jesus into the world,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “As our ancestors prepared their hearts spiritually for His coming, so must we prepare ourselves in the Season of Advent for the second coming.”

The main focus of the Advent Season is preparation through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained. Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge, but we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day.

“This will allow the love of God to fill one’s life and one’s family with joy,” Bishop Dewane said.

Pope Francis stresses that Advent is both a time of “God’s closeness and our watchfulness.”

The Holy Father notes that on the First Sunday of Advent, a new Liturgical Year begins. In it, the Church marks the passage of time with the celebration of the main events in the life of Jesus and the story of salvation. “In so doing, as Mother, she illuminates the path of our existence, supports us in our daily occupations and guides us towards the final encounter with Christ.

The Pope invites everyone to live this time of preparation in the Season of Hope, with “great sobriety” and simple moments of family prayer. “Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal, to lead it to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

During Advent, we are reminded that we are called to redouble our efforts to bring Christ’s saving message to all people. How can this be done? A few simple suggestions:

  • Liturgy: Seek Christ in the Sacred Liturgy and in the intercessions of His saints. The Advent Season offers a number of special feasts and solemnities that call for our active participation. Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates the two Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) which is observed as a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas on Dec. 12. We also ask for the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Francis Xavier, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They modeled for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to Heaven.
  • Prayer: Spend time every day in prayer and include the work of the local Parish and of the Diocese in these prayer intentions. Offer up daily sacrifices for the good of others. This time of prayer and sacrifice should intensify as we draw near Christmas, with particular prayers given to us by the Church from December 17 to Christmas Eve to prepare for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior.
  • Confession: One of the most critical ways to prepare one’s soul for the birth of Jesus at Christmas is to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Holy Season is an ideal time to open one’s soul and to be set free from the burdens of past sins and wrongs. Many Parishes offer special times during Advent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Volunteer: Another way to grow in Faith through this season is to recognize Christ in neighbors, especially those in need such as the elderly and sick. Get involved and give of yourself in some work of the Church, possibly evangelization, education, or charity. Use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to accompany those in need and help them draw closer to Christ.  We are to be doers of our Faith on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ and all those around us.

Bishop Dewane said, “As Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”

Diocesan Phase of Synod inaugurated with Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane inaugurated the beginning of the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” with a Mass Oct. 17, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Participating in the Mass were more than a dozen priests, as well as some 300 people from across the Diocese, representing many Parishes, various movements, Third Orders and many more.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Dewane said: “We ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls, as we begin this journey.” Later, the Bishop said, “In this whole process, we have to make hopes flourish… to stimulate trust, one with the other.”

The Bishop explained that during the Diocesan Phase there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese in the coming months. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. Bishop Dewane said this process must be based on co-responsibility in the Church, or an accurate synthesis with what was said in a process that is transparent and fair.

The sessions are being planned to allow for the maximum opportunity for as many of the faithful to participate as possible. A complete schedule of the listening sessions will be announced soon.

A reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall was full of anticipation as those present expressed their excitement for the opportunity for the faithful to provide input in planning for the future of the Universal Catholic Church.

Bishop Dewane stressed that the entire process will last more than two years, with the local listening session focused on transparency as the Diocese will record each session to ensure all that is said is heard.

“We want people to speak out, and as the Holy Father likes to say, ‘the Catholic Church is a field hospital;’ we are meeting to start binding up wounds,” Bishop Dewane said. “We will be there to listen, and to do it with a warm heart. We will search for healing and will increase the regard for one another. It is the common mission that we share what is most important.”

The entire effort to gather input from Dioceses around the world is viewed by many Church observers as the most deliberate, long-term and long-range process of seeking input for any Synod up to this point.

“While what comes from our Diocese will go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we are not tasked with putting together a document. We are tasked to listen, to get input, put it together and ensure the points that are made at the Diocesan level.

For more details on the Synodal Process, please visit the Diocese of Venice website at a www.dioceseofevenice.org.

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