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Are You Listening?

“An official gathering of clergy and/or laity:

a diocesan synod is a gathering of clergy, religious and

lay representatives from throughout a diocese.” (CCC 887)

Definition taken from The Catholic Dictionary

This past Saturday our Archdiocese took another step in our current synod. As you can see by the definition listed above, a synod is a formal process in which clergy, religious and laity of a particular diocese are consulted. The whole world is divided into dioceses or specific geographical regions. Our archdiocese consists of the following 19 counties: Valverde, Edwards, Kinney, Real, Uvalde, Kerr, Gillespie, Bandera, Medina, Frio, Kendall, Comal, Bexar, Atascosa, McMullen, Guadalupe, Wilson, Gonzales and Karnes. We are blessed to be an archdiocese in which we oversee half of the dioceses in Texas: Laredo, San Angelo, El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo, Ft. Worth and Dallas. The other seven dioceses are under the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston: Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Victoria, Austin, Beaumont and Tyler. If there is a vacancy of a bishop in one of the dioceses that is part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archbishop Gustavo would help in overseeing that diocese until a new bishop would be appointed.

This synodal listening process is focused on both general feedback especially from the laity regarding their experience of being part of our Church and also more specifically on their experience of the Mass and Eucharist. Over 250 persons from the several parishes that make up the North Central Urban Deanery – a cluster of parishes within our archdiocese – met to discuss four questions. The group I was part of discussed two questions regarding what our experience of the Sunday Mass is and how we connect our worship with those who may be marginalized. Some of the comments regarding the first question stated the importance of lectors who proclaim the word well having spent time in careful preparation, the importance of a good sound system, the benefit of a homily that leaves parishioners with spiritual food for thought, the joy of reuniting with community members, the need for quality music and the disappointment when some of these elements are missing.

Regarding the second question, most participants shared how their parish has ministries, such as St. Vincent De Paul and other outreach ministries, that do assist those with needs. But also mentioned was the need to have a welcoming spirit by not only greeters but all who attend the Mass towards all people. Discussion ensued about the need to not just be nourished by the Mass but to have that experience overflow in concern and action towards our neighbor, especially those struggling in any way. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the synod as we seek to enhance the quality of our Sunday worship experience and continue to spread the Good News of Christ in concrete ways within our community.

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