As part of Pope Francis' call for every diocese to hold listening sessions with a special focus on people who are marginalized in the Church and community, Arkansas Catholic is running a four-part series on groups of Catholics the Church is striving to listen to during the Synod on Synodality.
In September 2021, Pope Francis invited Catholics worldwide to take part the Synod on Synodality, a two-year process of discussion and reflection in preparation for a meeting of the Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2023. This process begins with a diocesan phase followed by a national phase, regional phase concluding with the meeting in Rome.
The Diocese of Little Rock began its diocesan phase with a Mass Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. Our diocesan theme is: "Journeying Together: Communion, Participation and Mission." Synod is Greek for "walking together on the same path." A synod is a process in which the Church discerns a particular issue. Since becoming pontiff, Pope Francis has held synods on the family (2014), youth (2018) and the Pan-Amazon region (2019). | Read Arkansas Catholic.
In his homily at the Cathedral to open the synod, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor explained the three touchstones of the process:
Pope Francis asked every diocese to hold listening sessions with a special focus on people who are marginalized in the Church and community. Bishop Taylor appointed Sister Mickey Espinoza, MCP, director of the Hispanic Ministry Office, and Liz Tingquist, director of the Catholic Campus Ministry and Catholic Youth Ministry offices, to lead the process in our diocese.
Each parish or deanery in the Diocese of Little Rock, led by a synod representative or team trained on how to conduct the process, will hold discussions through April 2022. They will then compile a report and turn it into the diocese. The diocesan team will summarize the parish reports into a 10-page document for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB will then write a report to the Vatican for the synod's general assembly in October 2023.
In October 2021, Arkansas Catholic previewed the Synod on Synodality with this article - Diocese will look at marginalized groups during synod.
The four-part special series are scheduled to run in the following issues of Arkansas Catholic:
Part 1 - Jan. 8, 2022
Part 2 - Feb. 5, 2022
Part 3 - March 5, 2022
Part 4 - April 2, 2022
The Diocese of Little Rock submitted this report May 16 to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to be included in the final report in preparation for the Synod on Synodality in 2023. Through listening sessions on the diocesan and parish levels, parishioners and others connected or formerly connected to the Church were asked to share their thoughts on the Church. The goal of the sessions was to truly hear concerns the faithful believe More...
Part 4 of a four-part series on groups of Catholics the Church is striving to listen to during the Synod on Synodality. How to be more welcoming is a challenge parishes face, no matter the person’s ethnicity. But for many Hispanics, feeling welcome in a parish means celebrating the faith in their native language, bridging the divide between Anglos and Hispanics, an emphasis on faith formation, as well as finding a way to keep their children interested in More...
Part 3 of a four-part series on groups of Catholics the Church is striving to listen to during the Synod on Synodality. Growing up, Brian was the quintessential Catholic kid. He received a Catholic education, graduated from Catholic High School in Little Rock and participated in parish and diocesan youth ministry. Even living on his own, he was “an every Sunday Mass guy.” “I loved the history and the ritual of the Church and how much reverence we have More...
Editor’s note: The following is a 2020 essay written by Skye Hart, formerly of Arkansas. He works as a music director in a Catholic parish in Arizona. Hart was interviewed by Arkansas Catholic for part 3 of the Synod on Synodality series. I love bright colors. I’ve always been drawn to them. I remember shopping with mom at the drug store and seeing Crayola fluorescent-colored crayons. I was in love. I adored fantasy tales and imagination. My More...
Part 2 of a four-part series on groups of Catholics the Church is striving to listen to during the Synod on Synodality. When Jody Sorenson-Marra married Chris in 2006, she was eight months pregnant with their son. Both Catholic, they went through marriage preparation and were wed in the Church. The marriage ended in divorce three years later. She drew closer to the Church for support and found comfort in the Eucharist and faithful friends. However, it More...
Part 1 of a four-part series on groups of Catholics the Church is striving to listen to during the Synod on Synodality. From the time she was born, Annie Wendel’s family fostered in her a love of the Catholic faith. “My family was extremely involved in the Church. We were always the people that sat in the front row every Sunday at Mass. During the summer, my mom would have my siblings and me serve at daily More...
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