As the Synod on Synodality continues its process in the Diocese of Cleveland, a snapshot is emerging of who was engaged in the process and how far it reached into the diocesan community.
Bishop Edward Malesic tasked Father Damien Ference, vicar for evangelization and director of parish life and special ministries, and Lynette Saenz, assistant director of parish life and special ministries, with coordinating the synod process in the diocese.
Saenz said reports from the listening groups that occurred during the past several months have been submitted and information is being reviewed. Those unable to participate in an in-person listening session had an opportunity to express their opinions online.
Click here for a link to some of the data gleaned from the online feedback.
“Our goal was at least 30% parish participation (in the synodal process/listening sessions) and we achieved about 40%,” she said. Among the places to host listening sessions were parishes, schools, religious congregations, Catholic Charities ministries, the diocesan offices, colleges and the diocesan seminaries – both Borromeo (college) and Saint Mary. The objective was to hear from as many people as possible while keeping the process as simple as possible.
“I wanted people to enter the process with an open mind and to let the Holy Spirit lead them,” she added. Saenz said training sessions were offered in order to have people from various parishes and ministries lead their own listening sessions and then to assemble the input and synthesize it into a report that was submitted to the diocese.
As she reviewed the results, Saenz said one thing stood out. “Nearly half of our participants were younger than 18,” she said. “We intended to reach out to different groups, to hear different voices,” she said, and the synod team was successful in that effort. Every college had a listening session, with some including faculty and staff as well as students.
She said the synodal process, instituted worldwide by Pope Francis last fall, is an effort for people to reflect on their journey of faith. Through the process, Saenz said the local Church -- as well as the Church worldwide -- is listening with an open heart so people can grow closer in communion with each other, inspire participation and be open to the mission of evangelization, taking action and inviting others to experience Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Church in Cleveland.
Saenz said the listening sessions and online input were gleaned from all eight counties of the diocese.
Delegates from constituencies that had listening sessions will gather for a daylong session on June 11 to listen and discuss what was presented.
“We are very excited to see what is in our (diocesan) report and to see where it will lead us,” Saenz said. She is working on that document, which will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by June 30. The USCCB will review the diocesan documents and prepare a national synodal report that will be presented in Rome.
Saenz said this is not a report that will sit on a shelf and collect dust. The goal is to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead as the Church focuses on the three synodal themes of Communion, Participation and Mission.
For more information on the synodal process, click here.