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Diocese preps for synod

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The Arlington diocese has begun prepping for the synod on synodality, a two-year church-wide effort culminating in an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 at the Vatican. The upcoming synod is meant to examine the way the church views synodality, and will focus on the keywords communion, participation and mission.

“Synod actually comes from a Greek word which means common road,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in a recent “Walk Humbly Podcast.”

“A synod of bishops is a process, a gathering by which bishops throughout the world ... offer counsel and perspective to the Holy Father regarding pastoral matters in our own diocese and within our church.”

The diocese received a preparatory document from the Vatican in early September, said Bishop Burbidge. “I’m working now to convene a working group. I've asked Father Don Planty, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington, to be our coordinator of this group who will help us to implement focus groups and surveys to the faithful, which I will coordinate through our pastors,” he said. “With more than a half a million Catholics in our diocese, most will not be able to participate directly but my hope is that by gathering a diverse group of Catholics, I will receive counsel and feedback from a wide, representative body.” 

Thanks to focus groups and surveys that harnessed the input of hundreds of parishioners to inform a new diocesan strategic plan announced Sept. 27, the Arlington diocese is already ahead of the game in many ways, said Bishop Burbidge. “(But) there are some different things that our Holy Father wants us to do, including trying to find ways ... to reach out to good people who maybe for one reason or another have wandered away from the church and are not active,” he said. “To hear from them — what’s causing that separation and where can the church accompany you and help you on this common road together?”

The synod, officially titled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” will open Oct. 9-10 in Rome. The consultation process in the local church, or the diocesan phase, will run from Oct. 17 to April 2022. 

Bishop Burbidge will celebrate Mass for the Opening of the Synod of Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More at 11 a.m. Oct. 17.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021