Bishop Hying

Synod process continues as we seek to become more fruitful, effective within Church

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on November 13, 2016


       So much positive feedback is coming in regarding the synod parish sessions, which occurred in every single parish of our diocese during the month of October. Anytime Christian disciples gather in prayer and reflection to share their faith, dream about the future and call on the Holy Spirit to enlighten and inspire, God works mightily in our midst! 

       People related moving testimonies about their love for the Church and their hopes and suggestions for dynamic growth in their parishes. The number of folks who are passionate about Christ and the Gospel, who love their community and want to see it flourish, who dedicate themselves to service and prayer, truly inspires me.

       I wish to thank Deacon Bob Marben, the Synod Commission, and the Pastoral Center staff who have worked hard to lead and implement this process. I am grateful to our priests, deacons, lay ministers, the parish liaisons and the hundreds of group facilitators and scribes who made it all happen on the parish level. I also thank the thousands of people who participated in the sessions, sharing their beliefs, love, dreams and ideas. We are holier, smarter and more effective together.

       I encourage each parish to be timely in turning in the myriad of conversational data collected at your session, so we might begin the daunting task of collating, synthesizing and articulating the wisdom that is collectively emerging from our discussions.  

       This vast body of thought and belief will form the substance of the deanery synod discussions, which will occur next February. We are asking each pastor to bring eight delegates and the parish liaison with him to the deanery sessions, where we will begin to formulate concrete pastoral initiatives from the many thoughts and suggestions that have emerged. 

       These themes, in turn, will be further fine-tuned and prioritized at the diocesan Synod event, which will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Hundreds of delegates will gather, representing each parish and diocesan institution. We will then close the synod on Sunday, June 4, the feast of Pentecost, with a Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Genesis Center in Gary.  Please plan on attending.

       What precisely will this massive effort of the Synod accomplish? 

       The concrete fruit of this process of prayer, conversation and engagement will be a pastoral plan to guide the Diocese of Gary for the next 5-10 years in the key mission areas of the Church, including how do we better proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share our faith, connecting with those who are alienated or disinterested; how we more effectively make the Eucharist, the other sacraments and prayer the center of our lives; how we catechize and form our people with greater creativity and verve; how we make an even greater commitment of service and transformation to the poor and marginalized.

       The fruit of the synod will also guide us on how we might better build up marriages and families, supporting those who are struggling and preparing those who are engaged; how we inculcate a deeper sense of stewardship, service and gratitude in our lives; how we help young Catholics find their important role in the life of the Church and the practice of the faith: how we call out, raise up and form new leaders on all levels of service within our parishes and diocese.

       As thousands of suggestions, ideas, initiatives and concerns surface in the synod process, the challenge will be to implement concrete plans which will produce real, effective and lasting growth in the life of our local Church.

       We would all agree that we cannot simply continue doing things in the same way and expect different results. We cannot afford to simply wait passively for the future to unfold, or wring our hands over the passage of “the good old days.”

       My deepest hopes and prayers for the synod will be realized if each member of our diocese falls more deeply in love with God, grows in their relationship with Christ, shares the faith more effectively and becomes more active and fruitful in the life of the Church.  This may be a tall order, but why not give it our best effort?

       The Synod Commission is planning ways to help all of us spiritually prepare for the synod next year as we embrace the exciting opportunity before us. During this Advent and next Lent, we will offer daily reflections on-line for meditation and prayer,

       I will be leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land next March (all of you are invited!) as a way to enter more deeply into the life of Jesus. The Echo series on the Adult Catechism of the Catholic Church continues to debut a new video every Friday. A retreat for synod delegates will occur next spring and a novena to the Holy Spirit will unfold for the 9 days leading up to the synod itself in June. 

       Through all of these ensuing months, I ask for your prayers and support as we seek to drink deeply of God’s Spirit and allow the Lord to renew our local Church. When we make ourselves radically available to the power of God, remarkable changes occur.  Let us pray for and strengthen one another!


+ Donald J. Hying


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