Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for Synod Ambassadors on Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
Approximately 100 Synod Ambassadors participated in the Mass, which was followed by a luncheon in the Cathedral’s Parish Activity Center.
Begun in October 2021, the universal Synod on Synodality is a two-year process of listening and discourse with Catholics all over the world. Within the Diocese of Allentown, 174 synod ambassadors have facilitated group discussions, evaluated feedback, and submitted findings for inclusion in a diocesan report that will ultimately be sent to Pope Francis.
Reflecting on the Gospel for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Bishop Schlert noted, “Our Gospel today speaks to us of humility. We should not assume a place of honor, but rather seek the lowest place. In the same way, our Synod process of listening is a process of humility. It requires the humility to listen to the marginalized, the faithful parishioner, the person who feels unwelcome, the cleric or religious who feels unappreciated.”
He continued, “We cannot assume we have a place of honor because of our title or our participation in parish life. In listening to those who are most hurt or alienated, we offer them a place – even a higher place – than we claim for ourselves. Synod is an exercise in humility led by the Holy Spirit.”
Remarking on the Diocesan Synod Report, Bishop Schlert noted, “We now have before us the fruits of our local Synod. We have not heard calls for radical change to Church teaching. Instead, we have heard a plea that the true Faith be more boldly proclaimed and explained.”
“Our task in the Synod is not to change Church teaching,” said Bishop Schlert, “but to change hearts to embrace Church teaching. Jesus did not equivocate on what he taught, but reach out to change hearts to embrace what He taught.”
“It has been a tremendous task,” said Bishop Schlert, noting that the Synod Ambassadors “gave of their time so that we could understand what the people of the Diocese – Catholic or non-Catholic, marginalized or active, practicing or non-practicing – had to say.”
The Ambassadors spent several months gathering and processing information from 65 participating schools, parishes, and ministries throughout the Diocese. About 3,800 individuals shared their comments in listening sessions, while 2,425 others opted to fill out written surveys.
As the luncheon ended, Diocesan Secretary for Administration and Synod Coordinator Kim Fiorentino took a few moments to highlight key findings from the Synod responses.
An oft-repeated comment among respondents was that “there is an urgent need to teach and catechize the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith,” Fiorentino said, prompting a collective head nod.
In his concluding remarks, Bishop Schlert expressed his gratitude for the Ambassadors’ “docile listening to the Holy Spirit” that enabled them to complete their task.
“The Holy Spirit,” he asserted, “is moving around us.”
For a brief summary of Synod comments, go to:
Presentation on Synod Feedback Sept. 12
Diocesan Synod Coordinator and Secretary for Administration Kim Fiorentino will present a summary of the reflections shared during the diocesan Synod listening process on Monday, Sept. 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. Francis Retreat House, 3918 Chipman Road, Easton.
After the presentation, there will be time for Q&A. No registration is necessary, and the event is free of charge. All are invited to attend.