“Summary Report: The Synod of The Little Way” - Part 1 of 2

Updated: Aug 23



Part 1 of a 2-part series from Bishop Stephen J. Berg


In gratitude to the Holy Spirit and answering the call of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, I offer this summary report of the 4-part diocesan synodal process which began one year ago. This summary is extrapolated from a more-detailed synthesis sent to the USCCB Synod Committee, to be integrated into the approaching Synod on Synodality of the Universal Church. It will be the basis for the next steps for our diocese, the development and implementation of a new 5-year Strategic Plan.


A brief description of the activities, challenges and surprises of the year’s synodal process can be accessed in the Living Garden electronic newsletter July 14, 2022. The 4-part process of on-site parish preparation meetings, parish visitation/listening sessions, electronic surveys and the concluding May Convocation provided amazing moments and countless blessings. In this journey which began in the shadow of the pandemic, the Holy Spirit took hold and guided the process into a rhythm of listening and spontaneity of participation. As I am still working closely with Dr. Seth Wright and his team in discerning results, I must say that we never imagined that the insights and inspirations gathered would be so comprehensive and, frankly, overwhelming. This is a gift beyond compare and an answer to our prayers.


"I must say that we never imagined that the insights and inspirations gathered would be so comprehensive and, frankly, overwhelming."


DISCERNMENT OF THE FRUITS OF THE SYNODAL PROCESS


Five main desires emerged throughout the entire 4-part synodal process of preparation meetings, parish visitations, electronic surveys, and the May Convocation. They are summarized below:


· Enhanced Spiritual Formation in the Holy Spirit

· A True Eucharistic Revival

· Improved Communications and Responsible Coordination of Efforts

· A Renewal of Formation in Doctrine and the Sacraments

· Equipping Missionary Disciples



Enhanced Spiritual Formation in the Holy Spirit


The diocesan-wide May Convocation, Speak, Lord: Your Servants Are Listening! was the culmination of our synodal process. 175 parish representatives from parishes across the diocese met for three days. We recognized the need to listen to one another, learning from and being built up through hearing each other’s stories of the transformative love of God in our lives. We discerned questions for the future of our diocese in the Holy Spirit: “How may the Holy Spirit be guiding us as The Diocese of The Little Way into closer communion with each other?” Insights garnered from the listening sessions of the convocation were crucial to our process. Parise the Lord!

For the question, “How may the Holy Spirit be guiding us into closer communion with each other?” the following themes emerged: Focus on Relationships; Get Out of the Way and Let the Holy Spirit work; Promote the Blessing of Communion through the Eucharist; Act on What We Receive in Charity and Service; Learn and Share the Simple Tools of Prayer. Among the deep desires driving this discernment were recognition of our “littleness” and our need for the Lord to bring us to open ourselves, our parishes, and our diocese to the action of the Holy Spirit in our prayer, our decision-making, and our actions so that we may be drawn into communion, the mystery of Christ and the Church.


"175 parish representatives from parishes across the diocese met for three days."


The experience of the Holy Spirit at the convocation was the first such in memory of many of the participants and so acclaimed. It was received, in fact, as the first palpable, communal fruit of the synodal process. The experience was new to the diocese. However, about one-third of the electronic survey participants (more than 500 electronic responses) expressed that their parish was too set in its ways and not open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was widely recognized that some re-formation is now in order. Prayer and discernment need to take place across the diocese to learn more, share more, and build opportunities for conversion through the Spirit into a vision of a new Strategic Plan. Some ideas surfaced for this, such as providing more opportunities for guided reflections in groups, with suitable catechetical formation, and calling forth parish leadership to intentionally guide the process.


A True Eucharistic Renewal

We long for a true communion that can only begin through Christ as we know Him in the Eucharist. Yet a significant percentage of participants in the overarching 4-part synodal process reported obstacles to communion within their parish, partly due to cultural and political differences which are affecting the whole country. One obstacle also surfaced, that a few perceive their parishes as a place holding only Masses and Confessions, with no other activity taking place. This is not truly a Eucharistic experience for them; they do not feel closer to their parish by receiving communion there. However, a large percentage also indicated that receiving communion does bring them more closely into solidarity with the poor. Suggestions on building communion around the Eucharist were discussed, such as warmer hospitality, healing services, and more invigorating formation, catechesis and preaching.

One testimonial eloquently expressed a longing to take that communion to others, to do little things with great love, to be always with Jesus. However, the struggle to promote our faith and invite others to join was more frequently mentioned. Group discussions surfaced the following desires: the possibilities of personal growth in understanding the richness of the Eucharist; a deeper understanding of the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation as they relate to the Eucharist; more opportunities for people, especially youth, to encounter Jesus personally in adoration; gatherings across the diocese to bring Eucharistic communion into sharper focus; the possibilities of inviting others, including fallen-away Catholics, into the Eucharistic fold.


"One testimonial eloquently expressed a longing to take that communion to others, to do little things with great love, to be always with Jesus."


It was observed several times that we, as Church, could do a better job in building communion by being more welcoming and ready to share ourselves with others. It was observed that the faithful in some parishes tend to hold themselves in place and distance themselves from forming new relationships. In a culture of distancing, communion can become a personal affair, and the Gospel is not completely lived out. There is work to be done.


Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg

Bishop of Pueblo



The September 1st e-news edition will continue the conversation with Part 2 of the series:

· Improved Communications and Responsible Coordination of Efforts

· A Renewal of Formation in Doctrine and the Sacraments

· Equipping Missionary Disciples

· Next Steps for the Diocese of Pueblo






If you found this article helpful, you'll enjoy "The Living Garden" E-News" & "The Little Way" magazine!


The Living Garden: a bi-weekly email to your inbox the 1st and 15th of the month.


The Little Way magazine: a quarterly publication delivered to your home.


To subscribe: scroll to the bottom of this page and click on "Subscribe to The Living Garden" and "Subscribe to The Little Way". Subscribing is easy and FREE!

357 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All