Synod 2024 - regional listening sessions March 7 & 21
Sessions in Fort Dodge and Sioux City
Agenda includes adoration, meal and listening
The Diocese of Sioux City held a convocation of synodal meetings and sharing of findings in April 2022 to conclude Pope Francis’ world-wide synod, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” The global synod meetings were held in the fall of 2023 at the Vatican. However, the “synod on synodality” is not yet over.
“The Holy Father and then the bishops of the United States are very much wanting to keep the synodal process alive and working in our diocese and parishes across the country,” explained Deacon Mark Prosser, chief of staff for Bishop Walker Nickless.
He noted that parishes in the diocese held local meetings in 2021 and Bishop Nickless held four regional meetings in early 2022 to gather input from the faithful. The results were synthesized and eventually forwarded to Rome as part of a continental report.
“We’ve been asked as a diocese, as all dioceses have, to offer up two more questions to our faithful for them to think about, to comment, to share and to suggest to the bishop in listening sessions,” the deacon said.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) requested meetings to be held in Lent with a synthesized report of the sessions to be forwarded in early April.
After meeting with his leadership team, the bishop chose to schedule two regional sessions – March 7 at 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity Parish in Fort Dodge and March 21 at 5 p.m. at Cathedral Parish in Sioux City. Organizers hope to have English/Spanish translators available at each site. The bishop invites all clergy, parishioners, Catholics and non-Catholics to the sessions to offer reflections, opinions and direction.
The agenda for the sessions will include simple adoration at 5 p.m., a light supper at 5:30 p.m. with the listening sessions held from 6 to 7 p.m. Karmen Bower, diocesan faith formation director, will moderate the listening sessions.
The two “guiding questions” posed by Pope Francis for the 2024 regional sessions are:
Where have I seen or experienced successes – and distresses – within the church’s structure(s)/organizations/leadership/life that encourage or hinder the missions?
How can the structures and organizations of the church help all of the baptized to respond to the call to proclaim the Gospel and to live as a community of love and mercy in Christ?
“I am looking forward to facilitating the latest diocesan listening sessions for the synod,” Bower said. “We look forward to the comments and feedback from the diocesan faithful at these meetings and encourage participation.”
For an accurate meal count at the sessions, participants are asked to RSVP their attendance to Grace Zavala at the Central Catholic Offices at email@example.com.
In the event of inclement weather prohibiting safe travel, the diocese will conduct the meetings via video conferences.
“We know that this is not an ideal way to meet. However, due to the narrow time frame the USCCB has given us to complete these meetings, we have no ability to reschedule them,” Deacon Prosser said.
Although in-person participation is preferred, those who cannot attend in person, an online option will be created in English, Spanish and Vietnamese for feedback.
The deacon explained that as in the 2021/22 synod process, “the summary of the comments that are shared in these listening sessions will be written. That will be submitted to our (USCCB) Region IX. A summary from that region will be completed to go on to the USCCB and then ultimately follow the same path back to Rome with possible continental meetings also.”
Staff from the Sioux City Diocese Communications Office will serve on the Region IX writing team.
The faithful should not consider the 2024 events to be the last of the synod on synodality, Deacon Prosser said.
“I think we’re starting to see signals come out of Rome via the USCCB that bishops and dioceses will be asked on an ongoing basis once or twice a year to pose different questions to the faithful to continue the dialogue and continue the opportunity,” he said.