Thank you to the many hundreds of people in our St. John-St. Paul Collaborative community who have and who continue to engage in the work of the Synod by sharing their faith, hopes, and dreams for the Church!
The first General Congregation of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opened on Wednesday, October 4 and sets the stage for the journey towards a more synodal Church. Here are the most recent updates and developments from the Synod – a history and timeline of the Synod here at our Collaborative and around the world can be found below.
Latest News and Updates
History and Timeline
We began our synodal journey in the fall of 2021, with the announcement that Pope Francis had called for a synod in the Church, with the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” During the fall and winter, we shared information on the upcoming “Synod on Synodality” as well as background on the history of synods and the concept of “synodality” in the Church.
In January of 2022, a “Committee for Synodality” was formed, including more than 20 parishioners from both parishes as well as Collaborative Staff, to take on the work of organizing the synodal journey for the Collaborative. In February, we held a “Synod Launch” weekend, during which our celebrants focused their homilies on the meaning and history of ‘synodality’ and what it means for us and for our Church, and our bulletin was dedicated to explaining how the ‘Synod on Synodality’ would be unfolding at our Collaborative. We also launched a robust online presence via our website and social media platforms to share information about the Synod here at the Collaborative, within the Archdiocese of Boston, and around the world.
Our 2022 Lenten Program was designed to help prepare us for our journey and lead us into the “Intentional Listening Phase” during the Easter Season. A centerpiece of this program was our Community Read and Lecture Series on Pope Francis’ book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, which contained many revelations for those wishing to understand Pope Francis’ emphasis on synodality.
The listening phase of our journey began in April on Easter Sunday, with the release of the first of six separate “Question of the Week” cards. These questions could be answered by filling out the paper cards and dropping them in the boxes at the churches or via our online portal. The listening phase also included a number of Intentional Listening Sessions (both in-person and via Zoom), as well as an online version of our Intentional Listening Session to allow participants to respond remotely and anonymously. During this phase, we endeavored to engage those within our Collaborative community and those in the larger community through the bulletin, email, our website and social media, and local media. Large banners were placed on the grounds of both parishes, prominently featuring the Synod logo, our website address, and the tagline “Feeling disconnected from the Church? We want to hear from you!”
At the conclusion of the listening phase in early June, we began the process of synthesizing the responses.
In early July of 2022 we completed the synthesis phase, sharing the fruits of our listening sessions, online responses, and Question of the Week cards in our SJSP Collaborative Synod Synthesis Report, which was submitted to the Archdiocese of Boston and the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops.
In September of 2022, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod, which represents the synodal efforts of the 178 Latin dioceses in the United States, including the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter that serves both the United States and Canada. (Due to their long history of synodal practice, the Eastern Catholic Churches shared their reports directly with the Holy See.) The contributions represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups. An estimated 700,000 people participated in the diocesan phase of the Synod in the United States.
In early October of 2023, Pope Francis significantly lengthened the final Roman phase of the ongoing Synod on Synodality. It will now extend over two sessions from October 4-29, 2023, and in October 2024. “I hope that this decision will favor the comprehension of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the church and help everyone to live it as a journey of brothers and sisters who witness to the joy of the Gospel,” the pope said when he broke the news. “The fruits of the synodal process that has gone ahead are many, but in order for them to bear much fruit, we can’t hurry,” said Francis.
In October of 2022, “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” (the Lord’s command to the people of Israel in the Book of Isaiah), the Working Document for the Continental Stage, was released by the Vatican. The document is the fruit of the Syntheses resulting from the consultation of the People of God in the first phase of the synodal process. It was produced by a team of 30 advisors who gathered in Frascati, Italy for two weeks in late-September and early October, the majority of whom were lay Catholics. It is the result of a group reflection on the syntheses of synod discussions submitted by 112 out of 114 episcopal conferences from around the world. It will serve as the framework for the continental phase of the church’s ongoing synod process, which will involve ecclessial gatherings on every continent over the next six months, ahead of two assemblies that will be held in Rome in October 2023 and October 2024.
In April of 2023, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued the North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. Begun in late 2022, the Continental Stage of the Synod was the second stage of the three-year process initiated by Pope Francis in October 2021. In total, 931 delegates and 146 bishops from Canada and the United States were appointed to participate in one of twelve assemblies to share their reflections and responses to the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) – Enlarge the Space of Your Tent.
In October of 2023 and in October of 2024, all the bishops will meet in a formal synod process to engage with the documents from around the world.
We must understand, though, that this is not a synod with a simple beginning, middle, and end. Instead, as Fr. Jim explained to us when we began this process, we are called to continue to gather the fruits of what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, and to put synodality – speaking boldly, listening deeply, and including all – into practice in our parishes and in our Church from now on!
Stay tuned for continued updates in the months ahead!