Bishop Alfred Schlert was joined by dozens of diocesan priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians, along with hundreds of faithful Catholics, to launch the Synod of Bishops at a special Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown, Sunday (10/17).
“The Pope has said this Synod means walking together on the same road,” Bishop Schlert said. “We all are here to see exactly what the Holy Spirit is calling us to, both in the Universal Church, and here in the Diocese of Allentown as we celebrate our 60th Anniversary year.”
Over the next six months, the Diocese will welcome feedback from all – including those who have fallen away from the Church – at listening sessions, through informal conversations, and with an online survey that will be launched soon.
Pope Francis asked every bishop in the world to gather input on topics important to Catholics, and to the Church. The information will be collated, collected at the national level, then forwarded to Rome, where it will be discussed at a Vatican meeting of Bishops in October 2023.
Attending the opening Mass, which included portions in Spanish, were the people at the heart of the feedback process: several hundred Synod Ambassadors, a diverse group that is representative of Catholics throughout the five counties of the Diocese: Schuylkill, Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon and Berks.
The ambassadors have been nominated by their pastors or invited to represent their Catholic schools, universities, groups, and ministries. They include mostly lay people, but also include priests, deacons, and religious.
Ambassadors will help arrange ways for Catholics to provide their feedback and will help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate.
The Synod process should not be seen as a way to change established Church doctrine. Rather, it is a way for individuals to express observations on aspects of the Church, and a way to help influence how the Church ministers to people in the Diocese and around the world.
In addition to forwarding the feedback for eventual use at the Vatican meeting, the Diocese of Allentown also will use the input provided to help in meeting the spiritual and sacramental needs of Catholics here at home.