Deanery Synod Sessions Are Opportunity to ‘Listen’ to People of God

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Synod listening sessions are planned in the 12 deaneries of the archdiocese during Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2. 

Nine of the deaneries had already set their dates as of Friday, Feb. 18, and five deaneries have also finalized their locations and times.

The listening sessions are as follows:

Orange Deanery, St. Joseph’s Parish, Middletown, Saturday, March 12, 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Manhattan North Deanery, Corpus Christi Parish, Manhattan, Saturday, March 12, 9 a.m.-12 noon.

Bronx West Deanery, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers (Cardinal Spellman Recreational Center), Saturday, April 2, 9 a.m.-12 noon.

Lower Westchester Deanery, Resurrection Parish, Rye, Tuesday, April 5, 5:15-8:45 p.m.

Upper Westchester Deanery, St. Patrick’s Parish, Yorktown Heights, Saturday, March 26, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Ulster Deanery, Saturday, March 26.

Putnam/Dutchess Deanery, St. Denis-St. Columba School, Hopewell Junction, Saturday, March 26.

Staten Island Deanery, Our Lady of Pity Parish, Saturday, April 2.

Manhattan South Deanery, Saturday, April 2.

 

The listening sessions, which will feature discussion and reflection, are an opportunity for Catholics in parishes to participate in small groups of eight to 12 people led by facilitators, who have taken training to lead such discussions.

The first half hour of the listening sessions will be devoted to prayer and will stress Eucharistic devotion in accord with an initiative for Eucharistic revival now being promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal Dolan, speaking at an opening Mass last October in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said Pope Francis “wants us to join him in praying, listening, discerning, examining ourselves personally, and the Church community, to see if we’re truly on the path Jesus has set for His beloved bride, His mystical body, the Church.”

Pope Francis has characterized two interrelated goals of the listening process: “To listen to God, so that with Him we may hear the cry of His people; to listen to His people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us.”

The listening sessions are a step in the preparation for the Synod of Bishops in Rome, which is planned for October 2023. The Synod’s theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”

Msgr. Joseph P. LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese, offered an overview of the listening session process in a memo he sent this month to archdiocesan officials and religious sisters. 

“These sessions are very much in line with our interest in serving our people, in hearing from Catholics, and in engaging with those from society who are sometimes left out of important conversations,” he wrote.

Msgr. Donald M. Dwyer, the dean of Lower Westchester and pastor of Resurrection parish in Rye, had suggested the deaneries as a venue for the listening sessions at a recent meeting of the Presbyteral Council. “This will be genuine listening and an opportunity to have people share opinions,” he said.

Msgr. Dwyer said he expects more than 100 people from the 43 parishes in the deanery to participate in the listening session on Tuesday afternoon and evening, April 5.

“We wanted to attract a whole new audience of people,” he said. “We thought we would try a different time.” Parishioners who attend will be treated to a brown bag supper. 

Beginning with prayer “sets the mood,” Msgr. Dwyer said. “It empowers people to listen to the Holy Spirit in their lives. I am happy it was decided to require prayer at the beginning.”

The dean said the roster of facilitators, including those who will lead the small group listening sessions, are “fine people.”

“We’re listening to the people of God,” Msgr. Dwyer explained. “This comes from the ground up. The Holy Spirit will guide the people. There will be ample opportunity for people to express their thoughts. We’re open to all observations.” 

“This is not a gripe session,” Msgr. Dwyer said. “There are so many good things to discuss about the Church.” The sharing will include ways the Church in New York is blessed, as well as opportunities “to do better,” he added.

Helpful material about the Synod, especially efforts in the Archdiocese of New York, is provided on the archdiocesan website, https://archny.org/synod/resources/

There are sections for Frequently Asked Questions, Discussion Questions, Information for Priests, Resources, Listening Sessions and Facilitators. 

The Resources area features a Guide for Listening Sessions booklet in two formats.

The webpages will soon also be offered in Spanish. 

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