Pre-synod parish small groups pushed back one year due to COVID-19

| April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Parish small groups planned for the fall as part of the Archdiocesan Synod process will be delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced the schedule change to priests in a letter April 13.

The delay was made to “keep our focus on our parishes and schools without any distraction” during the pandemic, he said.

The parish consultation process with small groups was originally scheduled for this fall. With the revised schedule, parish small groups are now scheduled for the fall of 2021. The format will remain the same: six sessions over six weeks to dig deeper into focus areas by examining Scripture, Church teaching and cultural context.

Archbishop Hebda plans to announce the initial set of focus areas later this spring, which will be based on information gathered from the prayer and listening events, as well as the information gathered for the bishops’ “ad limina” visit with Pope Francis in January and the results of the Disciple Maker Index, a parish-based survey offered in February.

The deanery consultation dates and process scheduled for late January and early February 2021 remain unchanged. The archdiocese has 15 deaneries, geographic areas comprising several parishes. Each deanery has been assigned one Saturday to meet. Pastors and up to 10 representatives from each parish will meet that day to “pray and work together to discuss the focus areas,” explained Father Joseph Bambenek, assistant director of the Archdiocesan Synod.

With the parish consultation now scheduled for fall 2021, the Synod Assembly is expected to occur in spring 2022. Based on the results of the Synod Assembly, Archbishop Hebda will release a pastoral letter, which is intended to lead to a pastoral plan to for the archdiocese’s future.

In the letter to priests, Archbishop Hebda thanked them for their help in making “the first year of the Synod process so fruitful.”

Between September 2019 and March 2020, 19 general Prayer and Listening Events and 11 focus sessions were held across the archdiocese. Archbishop Hebda attended each one, and Bishop Cozzens was present at many of them. These events gave Catholics the chance to pray, share and listen to one another discuss what is going well in their parishes and the archdiocese, as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the archdiocese and its parishes.

The Synod team counted 8,143 people at the Prayer and Listening Events. Attendees contributed 35,026 comments, which have all been read. “That data was categorized and analyzed and all of the individual comments have been available for my review,” Archbishop Hebda said.

Stay updated on the Synod process at archspm.org/synod.

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