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 | Teresa Peterson

Diocese of St. Petersburg Plans Additional Synod Listening Sessions

More than 6,400 people participated in “Journeying Together,” the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s local response to our Holy Father’s call for a global Synod on Synodality. 

Now, the Vatican is once again asking dioceses around the world to engage in further consultation, specifically looking at ways to bring more people together in the evangelizing mission of the Church.

Guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops suggest that dioceses hold 2-3 listening sessions in February or March of 2024. Bishop Gregory Parkes has approved four listening sessions during this time frame with groups that were not intentionally included during the diocesan phase of the Synod in 2021 and 2022.

These groups are principals, parish business managers, priests, lay ecclesial ministers, and the leadership team of the Pastoral Center.

Discussions will focus on the Church’s structures and how they can hinder or encourage the mission of the Church and how to help all the baptized to courageously live and proclaim the Gospel. The sessions will include meditation on Sacred Scripture, time for prayer, and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Additionally, the initial elements of a new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of St. Petersburg will be shared. Under the leadership of Dr. Lois Locey, Chancellor for Administration and Chief Operating Officer, the new input to be received, along with valuable insights gained during the Diocesan Synod process, will be used to aid the Diocese to discern its priorities and goals for the next five years.

The Synod on Synodality started in 2021, when Pope Francis requested a long process of listening and discernment, open to all the People of God, to “journey together” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The first session of the Synod on Synodality in Rome concluded in October of 2023 with a report synthesizing discussions and reflections shared by participants. This report has been shared with local churches around the world for further consideration and input for the next phase of the synodal process and the next session in Rome in Oct. 2024.

In the five counties of our diocese, over 150 Synod Listening Sessions in multiple languages were held between November 2021 and March 2022. Most questions focused on how the Holy Spirit is drawing people to Christ and where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church. Some questions also focused on personal experiences of being heard and having a spiritual support system.

Diverse groups that were represented include parishioners, deacons, religious sisters, migrant workers, prisoners, the homeless, the sick and homebound, university students, children and their parents, young adult leaders, healthcare workers, African Catholics, African American Catholics, Native American Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, Portuguese-speaking Catholics, Catholics who experience same-sex attraction and their family members, non-Catholic Christians (including a schismatic community), and those who claim no religious affiliation.