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You've signed up for a synodal session. Now it's time to get ready! The materials on this page are designed to help you prayerfully prepare for the gathering.




Thank you for participating in a Synodal gathering at the Cathedral. In coming together for these sessions, whether in person or on Zoom, we’re doing something really historic: we’re participating in the Synod on Synodality. What does that mean, the “Synod on Synodality”?
Synod is a word used for a Church gathering, usually of bishops. It comes from two Greek words that literally mean “on the way together.” A “synod,” then, is the Church journeying together, dialoguing together, discerning together. This is the first Church Synod in history in which the whole Church—clergy and faithful—have been invited to participate together.
“Synodality” does not mean how to have a synod, or having a lot of synods. Rather, Pope Francis has said:

"Synodality is the way of being the Church today according to the will of God, in a dynamic of discerning and listening together to the voice of the Holy Spirit.”
When we talk about the “Synod on Synodality,” then, we are talking about a particular way of being the Church—a Church that listens, that walks and discerns together. And that’s not easy! To quote Pope Francis again:
“What the Lord is asking of us is already in some sense present in the very word ‘Synod.’ Journeying together – laity, pastors, the Bishop of Rome – is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.”
The gatherings that are taking place around the world today, including the one you’ll be participating in, are part of Pope Francis’ effort to put synodality into practice, not just at the level of Church hierarchy, but throughout the whole Church, the Body of Christ.
The fruit of our conversations today will become part of a diocesan synthesis, a document which will inform the discussions of the bishops and other delegates who gather in Rome in October of 2023. But it’s important to recognize that these synodal gatherings at the parish level are not about producing content or problem-solving. We are not a drafting committee.
As it says in the official documentation for the Synod:

“The purpose of the Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to be nourished, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another, and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.”

By participating today, and especially by listening to each other and making room for the Holy Spirit, we are already helping the Church to become the synodal Church Pope Francis wants us to be.


The fundamental question Pope Francis is inviting the Church to reflect on during this synodal process is this:

 A Synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?




The session you’ll participate in is not like a business meeting or a town hall. Our listening and dialogue will take place in a context of prayer, as we invite the Holy Spirit into our midst. There will be time for silent reflection, so that we can really listen to each other and to the Holy Spirit – because if there is no room for the Holy Spirit, as Pope Francis has said, there will be no synod.
In our gatherings, we will gather as a large group for an opening prayer. Then we will break into small groups of 6-8 people for a conversation that will last about an hour. We will use a simple, prayerful process which may be familiar to some of you already. In our small groups, there will be three rounds, guided by a facilitator.

  •  In the first round, each person will take an equal turn to share the fruit of their prayer and preparation for the synodal gathering. There is no discussion or response in this round; all participants simply listen deeply to what each person has to say. This round is followed by a time of silence, as each person pays attention to how the Holy Spirit is moving in ourselves, the people speaking, and the group as a whole.
  •  In the second round, each participant shares what struck them most in the first round and what moved them during the time of silence. Once again, this is followed by a time of silence.
  •  Finally in the third round, participants dialogue freely on what seems to be resonating in the conversation, and where the Holy Spirit might be calling the Church.

In each small group, the facilitator or notetaker will record what is shared, without names, and the disappointments, joys, and hopes that are shared. No names will be recorded, in order to respect the confidentiality of what is shared, and to help all participants to share freely what’s really in their minds and hearts.
At the end of the three rounds, there will be a concluding time for prayer and reflection. The whole gathering will take about an hour and a half.   Thank you for taking part.



Pope Francis is inviting the whole Church to reflect on how we are journeying together as God’s People, and to reflect on how the Holy Spirit is asking us to grow in our journey together.  This Synod is a profound God-given invitation. And prayerful preparation is a first and very important step in our parish synodal process.

We hope that prior to your scheduled small synod gathering, you will be able to set aside some time each day to prayerfully consider the synod questions. 

Here is a prayerful preparation process (try to spend at least ten minutes/day) to help you listen deeply to the Spirit speaking through your own experience as a Catholic:

  1. First, if you can, prepare a quiet space.  You may want to place a lit candle, a crucifix, or a holy image before you, and have pen and paper to record your reflections.
  2.  Quiet yourself. Be still inside and out. Breathe in deeply, hold your breath to the count of four, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat that several times till you begin to sense a growing calmness within.
  3. Be aware that you are in the presence of God and that God’s Spirit is within you. Ask God to open your heart and mind, your imagination and memory to let the Spirit speak through your own experiences.
  4.  Slowly pray the following passage from Isaiah, perhaps repeating it several times:
                               Listen, listen to me. . .                                                                                                     Pay attention and come to me;                                                                                        listen, that you may have life.  Is 55: 2,3
  5. When you are ready, begin to reflect on the questions. There are five sections. You might want to take one section a day.  Don’t worry if you cannot finish all of the questions.

Take your time.  During your prayer time feel free to pause, reflect and make notes.  And as you finish your daily reflection, make note of the key themes of joy, surprise, sadness, or insights which emerged for you.

As you finish your time of reflection each day, close by offering God thanks for journeying with you and for the insights you gathered.

Questions for Reflection

  •  How have you personally experienced “journeying together“  in the Church?
    When you say “our Church”, who is part of it?  Who are your companions?
    What persons are left on the margins? 
    What joys, wounds, obstacles, insights, do these reflections elicit?
  • To whom does our Church listen, and to whom do we still need to listen? How are lay people, especially the young, listened to? Is there space for voices of diversity, for the excluded?
    What joys, wounds, obstacles, insights, do these reflections elicit?  
  • How do our prayer and liturgy inspire our journeying together and our important decisions?  How do we promote active participation of all in our liturgies, including liturgical ministries?
    What joys, wounds, obstacles, insights, do these reflections elicit?
  • How does our Church support our commitments to daily service in society, to build a more just world?  How do we find help to live out these commitments as disciples? What joys, wounds, obstacles, and insights do these reflections elicit?
  • What are the ways our Church addresses divergences of vision, conflicts, and difficulties within the Church? How do we dialogue with and learn from other sectors of society--civil society, politics, culture, poor families and communities? What joys, wounds, obstacles, and insights do these reflections elicit?

Patty Repikoff

Please pray to the Holy Spirit every day leading up to your synodal gathering. You can use this prayer, but feel free to pray in your own way.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen


On various occasions, Pope Francis has shared his vision for what the practice of synodality looks like concretely. The following are particular attitudes that enable genuine listening and dialogue as we participate in the Synodal Process.

  • Being synodal requires time for sharing: We are invited to speak with authentic courage and honesty (parrhesia) in order to integrate freedom, truth, and charity. Everyone can grow in understanding through  dialogue.
  • Humility in listening must correspond to courage in speaking: Everyone has the right to be heard, just as everyone has the right to speak. Synodal dialogue depends on courage both in speaking and     in listening. It is not about engaging in a debate to convince others. Rather, it is welcoming what others say as a way by which the Holy Spirit can speak for the good of all (1 Corinthians  12:7).
  • Dialogue leads us to newness: We must be willing to change our opinions based on what we have heard from  others.
  • Openness to conversion and change: We can often be resistant to what the Holy Spirit is trying to inspire us to undertake. We are called  to abandon attitudes of complacency and comfort that lead us to make decisions purely on the basis of how things have been done in the past.
  • Synods are an ecclesial exercise in discernment: Discernment is based on the conviction that God is at work in the world and we are called to listen to what the Spirit suggests to  us.
  •  We are signs of a Church that listens and journeys: By listening, the Church follows the example of God himself, who listens to the cry of his people. The Synodal Process provides us with the opportunity to open ourselves to listen in an authentic way, without resorting to ready-made answers or pre-formulated judgments.
  • Leave behind prejudices and stereotypes: We can be weighed down by our weaknesses and sinfulness. The first step towards listening is freeing our minds and hearts from prejudices and stereotypes that lead us on the wrong path, towards ignorance and  division.
  • Overcome the scourge of clericalism: The Church is the Body of Christ filled with different charisms in which each member has a unique role to play. We are all interdependent on one another and we all share an equal dignity amidst the holy People of God. In the image of Christ, true power is service. Synodality calls upon pastors to listen attentively to the flock entrusted to their care, just as it calls the laity to freely and honestly express their views. Everyone listens to one other out of love, in a spirit of communion and our common mission. Thus the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in manifold ways in and through the entire People of God.
  • Cure the virus of self-sufficiency: We are all in the same boat. Together we form the Body of Christ. Setting aside the mirage of self-sufficiency, we are able to learn from each other, journey together, and be at the service of one another. We can build bridges beyond the walls that sometimes threaten to separate us – age, gender, wealth, ability, education, etc.
  • Overcoming ideologies: We must avoid the risk of giving greater importance to ideas than to the reality of the life of faith that people live in a concrete way.
  • Give rise to hope: Doing what is right and true does not seek to attract attention or make headlines, but rather aims at being faithful to God and serving His People. We are called to be beacons of hope, not prophets  of doom.
  • Synods are a time to dream and “spend time with the future”: We are encouraged to create a local process that inspires people, with no one excluded to create a vision of the future filled with the joy of the Gospel. The following dispositions will help participants (cf. Christus Vivit):
    •  An innovative outlook: To develop new approaches, with creativity and a certain audacity.
    •  Being inclusive: A participatory and co-responsible Church, capable of appreciating its own rich variety, embraces all those we often forget or  ignore.
    •  An open mind: Let us avoid ideological labels and make use of all methodologies that have borne fruit.
    •  Listening to each and every one: By learning from one another, we can better reflect the wonderful multi-faceted reality that Christ’s Church is meant to be.
    •  An understanding of “journeying together”: To walk the path that God calls the Church to undertake for the third millennium.
    •  Understanding the concept of a co-responsible Church: To value and involve the unique role and vocation of each member of the Body of Christ, for the renewal and building up of the whole Church.Reaching out through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue: To dream together and journey with one another throughout  the entire human family.

Text from the Vademecum, the official guide to the Synod


As on any journey, we need to be aware of possible pitfalls that could hamper our progress during this time of synodality. The following are several pitfalls that must be avoided in order to promote the vitality and fruitfulness   of the Synodal Process.
1) The temptation of wanting to lead ourselves instead of being led by God. Synodality is not a corporate strategic exercise. Rather it is a spiritual process that is led by the Holy Spirit. We can be tempted to forget that we are pilgrims and servants on the path marked out for us by God. Our humble efforts of organization and coordination are at the service of God who guides us on our way. We are clay in the hands of the divine Potter (Isaiah 64:8).

2) The temptation to focus on ourselves and our immediate concerns. The Synodal Process is an opportunity to open up, to look around us,  to see things from other points of view, and to move out in missionary outreach to the peripheries. This requires us to think long-term. This also means broadening our perspectives to the dimensions of  the entire Church and asking questions, such as: What is God’s plan for the Church here and now? How can we implement God’s dream for the Church on the local level?

3) The temptation to only see “problems.” The challenges, difficulties, and hardships facing our world and our Church are many. Nevertheless, fixating on the problems will only lead us to be overwhelmed, discouraged, and cynical. We  can miss the light if we focus only on   the darkness. Instead of focusing only on what is not going well, let us appreciate where the Holy Spirit is generating life and see how we can let God work more  fully.

4) The temptation of focusing only on structures. The Synodal Process will naturally call for a renewal of structures at various levels of the Church, in order to foster deeper communion, fuller participation, and more fruitful mission. At the same time, the experience of synodality should not focus first and foremost on structures, but on the experience of journeying together to discerning the path forward, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The conversion and renewal of structures will come about only through the on-going conversion and renewal of all the members of the Body of Christ.

5) The temptation not to look beyond the visible confines of the Church. In expressing the Gospel in our lives, lay women and men act as a leaven in the world in which we live and work. A Synodal Process is a time to dialogue with people from the worlds of economics and science, politics and culture, arts and sport, the media and social initiatives. It will be a time to reflect on ecology and peace, life issues and migration. We must keep the bigger picture in view to fulfil our mission in the world. It is also an opportunity to deepen the ecumenical journey with other Christian denominations and to deepen our understanding with other faith traditions.

6) The temptation to lose focus of the objectives of the Synodal Process. As we proceed along the journey of the Synod, we need to be careful that, while our discussions might be wide-ranging, the Synodal Process maintains the goal of discerning how God calls us to walk forward together. No one Synodal Process is going to resolve all our concerns and problems. Synodality is an attitude and an approach of moving forward in a co-responsible way that is open to welcoming God’s fruits together  over time.

7) The temptation of conflict and division. “That they may all be one” (John 17:21). This is the ardent prayer of Jesus to the Father, asking  for unity among his disciples. The Holy Spirit leads us deeper into communion with God and one another. The seeds of division bear no fruit. It is vain to try to impose one’s ideas on the whole Body through pressure or to discredit those who feel   differently.

8) The temptation to treat the Synod as a kind of a parliament. This confuses synodality with a ‘political battle’ in which in order to govern one side must defeat the other. It is contrary to the spirit of synodality   to antagonize others or to encourage divisive conflicts that threaten   the unity and communion of the  Church,The temptation to listen only to those who are already involved in Church activities. This approach may be easier to manage, but it ultimately ignores a significant proportion of the People of God.

Text from the Vademecum, the official guide to the Synod

Enjoy this song for the synod, written and performed by young people from Antilles


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