Bishop Hying

Faithful asked to prayerfully reflect on many Church issues posed by pastoral letter

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on March 6, 2016   


       I am supremely enthused about our upcoming diocesan synod!  Last week, the synod commission, a broadly representative group guiding this whole process, met for the first time. The conversation was electric as members shared creative ideas, asked insightful questions and offered joyous hopes about the synod and the future of our diocese. 

      Last Saturday, we celebrated the Eucharist at Holy Angels Cathedral to officially proclaim the synod and release my pastoral letter, which I hope will serve as an opening reflection in a broad and bracing conversation about our future together. The joy, faith and enthusiasm of the people gathered at the Mass were contagious. 

      I invite everyone to read my pastoral letter. About 28 pages (with pictures!), the letter is hopefully long enough to be substantive but not such a tome that would be off-putting to many potential readers.  The letter is both a reflection on how we, as Catholics, understand the Church theologically (called ecclesiology) and a more practical reflection on eight principal components of the Church’s life and activity here in Gary. 

      The eight areas include evangelization, worship and sacraments, formation, marriage and family, social teaching, young people and youth ministry, stewardship, and vocation and leadership training.  In each section, I share what I have observed and learned in my varied encounters around the diocese, affirming the great amount of good, lifting up the challenges and difficulties and asking some questions to prime our spiritual and pastoral thinking and discerning.

      I particularly invite parish leadership, including priests, deacons, lay ministers, staff and pastoral councils, as well as religious communities and school staffs to read the letter and then reflect on it as a group sometime before the end of July. This thinking and praying together will set the table and build the base for the rest of the synod process.

      I pray that each will be renewed and strengthened in our own relationship with God and the practice of our faith, as well as think and question more critically how we can all contribute towards continuing to build a more vital and flourishing Church, a comm of faith both engaging and engaged in the world around us, parishes, schools and organizations that draw people like a magnet towards Christ and his saving Gospel.  I just heard a profoundly beautiful statement on the radio: “We are called to live in such a way that others will want to know the God we worship.”

      The second step in the synod process will be parish gatherings this October. Every parish, either by itself or as a cluster, will be invited to hold a three- hour session for all parishioners, either on a weeknight or a weekend, to pray, reflect, discuss and discern the future of our beloved Church, raising up what we love and appreciate about our Catholic faith and also ways to strengthen our fundamental mission in the eight specified areas. 

      The fruit of all this rich conversation will be recorded and synthesized as basic common themes will emerge. These results will be the substance of further refinement on the deanery level next winter, as delegates from the respective parishes will gather to pray and discuss the initiatives and ideas that surfaced at the parish level. 

      These deanery gatherings constitute the third step of the synod process.

      The actual synod, a two-day encounter of chosen delegates from all over the diocese, to be held on Pentecost weekend, June 3-4, 2017, will discern and prioritize the key initiatives, action ideas and plans to guide the future life of our local Church, organized around the eight essential components of ecclesial life.  The final step will be my affirmation of the synod’s conclusions in a document which will serve as our spiritual and pastoral road map for years to come. 

      This process will require much work, commitment, organization, prayer and zeal. It will be more than simply another planning process. My ardent hope and prayer is that this synod experience will transform all of us in the power of the Holy Spirit, that we will feel the electric divine energy that filled those first followers of Christ in the Upper Room on the morning of Pentecost.

       I hope that the synod’s effects will be seen and felt intensely on the level of the entire diocese, every parish and in the life of each member of the Church. Our structures, offices, organizations, communities, families and activities will all be involved in and affected by this process of “walking together” which is what “synod” actually means in the ancient Greek. 

      I invite all of us to join in ardent prayer and critical study as we prepare for this mighty and joyous task!

      “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues as the spirit inspired them to proclaim.  Acts 2:1-4”


     + Donald J. Hying


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     Bishop Hying’s pastoral letter can be read or downloaded from the Diocese of Gary website at or at

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