By Kim Viti Fiorentino
Welcome to the season of Advent – the journey to the Nativity of Our Lord which begins Sunday – and this year, especially highlighted in the Year of Real Presence and with our Synod journey together as a Diocese.
Each of us has a journey story – a story of joys and sorrows, accomplishments and disappointments, love and loss. And now the Holy Father has asked us to journey together and to listen to one another during the Synod of Bishops.
These moments have made me reflect on my own personal journey which started here in Allentown where my dad owned a shoe business and my mom was a teacher. My journey led me outside the Lehigh Valley for my education and career as an attorney. Along the way, I experienced the demands of work and personal struggles, and the ups and downs of my Faith and understanding and growing in my relationship with the Lord.
After 40 years, I decided to move back home with my husband to be closer to my parents, and because Bishop Alfred Schlert allowed me to serve in a leadership role in the Diocese of Allentown. What an amazing blessing to realize at the age of 60.
As part of the Synod, Pope Francis is asking the whole Church to listen to each other under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to discern together the most authentic ways of addressing the world’s challenges and giving meaning to how our Faith can heal the world’s wounds. We want to hear about each other’s journeys.
In the Diocese of Allentown, the Synod is well under way, through on-line conversations and surveys, through listening sessions and small groups, and through individual outreach. We are blessed to have an outstanding Diocesan Working Group composed of lay leaders and clergy assisting in this effort. The process is further facilitated by over 200 lay Ambassadors from parishes, ministries, and other outreaches.
The Synod process is designed to reach out to the Faithful in our communities and those who are away – who feel marginalized or disenfranchised – distant from the Church or disconnected from the Lord.
We want to hear from all Catholics – parish members and those who are away. The materially impoverished, immigrants, refugees and marginalized. Those imprisoned and their families. The LGBT community and their loved ones. All of the diverse ethnic and cultural communities in our midst including Hispanic, Vietnamese, Filipino, African American and others. We want to hear from the young and the old, the daily Communicants and those who do not know or believe. We want to hear from you.
The journey of Advent to the Light of Christ reminds us of His Story — that Our Lord humbled himself to be born into human form, as an infant in a manger, to live, to laugh, to love, to suffer and to die for our salvation. We know His journey – and we want to share our journeys with each other to reach Him more closely in these difficult times.
I hope to meet many of you and hear your voices – and hope you will reach out to me with your thoughts about how the Diocese of Allentown can hear you as we listen to each other.
Above all, I urge you to participate in the Synod process. Fill out the on-line survey, or better yet, attend a listening session or small group meeting. Make your voice heard. Join us on the journey.
Wishing you the special Peace of the Advent journey.
Kim Viti Fiorentino is the Secretary for Administration in the Diocese of Allentown. She is serving as Diocesan Coordinator for the Synod of Bishops. You can view additional information about the Synod on the website.
Kim Viti Fiorentino and her parents, Theresa and George Viti