Since Pope Francis’ announcement of the Synod on Synodality four years ago in March 2020, the entire Catholic Church worldwide has been “journeying together” in listening and discernment on how we can thrive in our common life together as the Body of Christ. Strictly speaking, a “Synod” is a gathering of bishops under the presidency of the pope at which the bishops discuss doctrinal and practical questions of great note. In this Synod on Synodality that is also the case. However, during this particular Synodal process the Holy Father has mandated that each local church throughout the world engage in a broad experience of listening and discernment on the meaning of “Synodality” itself.

“Retreats are AMAZING (more please!) … also pilgrimages”

During this listening and discernment process, each local (arch)bishop throughout the world was asked to determine the best way to hear from his people in his (arch)diocese, in order to offer contributions for the reflection of the Synod Fathers (and other representatives appointed by the pope). Then, subsequently, these contributions from the local churches throughout the world were processed through additional listening and discernment stages at the regional, national, continental and global levels, thus leading to working documents for the Synod itself. The Synod Fathers and other official Synod representatives met in Rome for the first session of the actual Synod in October 2023, and will meet again for their final session in October 2024. Finally, after the Synod on Synodality officially closes after its October 2024 session, the Synod Fathers and official representatives will then offer their findings and suggestions to the Holy Father, and ultimately the Holy Father will issue his “Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation,” which will be the official and binding decree from the Synod on Synodality. We should not expect that Exhortation until at least the late autumn of 2024, and more likely not until the winter or spring of 2025.

“We are all welcome at Mass.”

Under the direction of Bishop Kevin Vann, the Diocese of Orange has been participating in this exciting global process of listening, discernment and “journeying together” since the beginning of the Synodal process. With other local churches throughout the world, we engaged in a thorough listening and discernment process from 2021-22, leading to a final report that we submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2022. Now, in advance of the October 2024 Synod session, the Holy See has asked that each local church conduct two to three additional “listening sessions” (at the discretion of the local Ordinary). Bishop Vann has mandated two additional listening sessions, and we are delighted by how those sessions have already begun.

“We need the courage to say what we believe with our whole
hearts. This can only be done when there are leaders/priests
who are convicted and teach the truth, and live it themselves.”

On Tuesday evening, Feb. 27, at the Catholic Chaplaincy for the University of California, Irvine, located at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Turtle Rock, we held the first of these listening sessions with students from UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, and other young adult groups throughout the Diocese of Orange (such as Corazón Puro). With the assistance of Fr. Ben Tran and Fr. Abel Abuan, chaplains to UCI and CSUF, respectively, Katie Dawson, our diocesan coordinator of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation and co-coordinator of the Synod on Synodality in Orange, and Fr. William Goldin, parochial administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Habra and also co-coordinator of the Synod in Orange, were blessed to listen to the hopes and dreams, joys and triumphs, as well as the challenges and difficulties of these students and young adults. Suffice it to say, it was both an edifying and joyful experience for everyone involved, and we left with great hope knowing that the future of the Church is bright indeed.

“Holding on to tradition is a success. It seems that some Masses, if you took out the consecration, would resemble a Protestant/evangelical service. Furthermore, [we need to work on] keeping the Mass reverent, encouraging proper attire for attending the Mass.”

“We need more awareness of reverence rules and laws. Some people
aren’t aware of how to properly act in Church.”

“We need freedom of expression in liturgical preferences (stop suppressing the TLM [Traditional Latin Mass]; both NO [Novus Ordo Mass] and TLM can coexist).”

In this article, we are pleased to share some of the quotes from that evening, to let these students and young adults speak for themselves.

“It is a success when priests are more available and accessible to the community.”

“We need more accessible confession times, more adoration, more Young Adult adoration and to build community from adoration.”

“Priests need to enforce the Liturgy better (they are educated but need to educate the laity better); for instance, [we need] to acknowledge that the Eucharist IS Jesus and you can’t receive if you’re not Catholic or if you’re in mortal sin.”

“We need more Eucharistic processions.”

Our next Synodal listening session will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Fullerton on March 11 at 7 p.m.

To register, click here.