On Oct. 9, 2021, Pope Francis convoked the Church throughout the world into synod under the title “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.” As a result, various types of consultations and listening sessions were held across the globe. The overall goal is that the People of God see themselves as journeying together, listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit, and discerning together what God is asking of the Church today. All for the sake of the mission that Jesus has entrusted to us until he comes again.

Here in the Diocese of Albany we gathered for Vicariate listening sessions, as well as listening sessions with several other specific groups, such as women and men religious, catechetical/youth ministry leaders, young adults, and members of the LGBTQ community, to name just a few. These sessions led to the development of our diocesan synthesis, which was submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Now, the synthesis documents from throughout the United States and Canada are being used to develop a Continental Report that will contribute to the next stages of the synod.

Originally intended to formally conclude in October 2023 with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome, the Holy Father has now extended the timeline through October 2024 so that the gathering of bishops and their collaborators can occur in two moments.

Given the unprecedented participation by the People of God throughout the world, and because of the breadth and importance of growing into being a truly synodal Church, Pope Francis believes that this will allow greater time for discernment by the Synodal Assembly as well as by the whole Church. Indeed, the synod is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing journey of discernment — listening together to the voice of the Spirit as to God’s will for the Church.

It is from this discernment that the Synodal Assembly will provide a final document to the Holy Father from which he will prayerfully write an Apostolic Exhortation to guide the entire Church in implementing the fruits of the entire synodal process.
Fully embracing that the synod is an ongoing journeying together in faith, the Synod Team in the Diocese of Albany has continued to meet for prayer and discernment about next steps. Currently, there are plans to:

• Provide a summary of each Vicariate Listening Session and scan of the scribe sheets from these sessions.

• Host listening sessions for groups that we were unable to gather in the early stages of the synod, such as the Black Apostolate among others.

• Serve as a resource to parishes, and especially to pastoral networks, on growing into a more synodal model way of being.

• Encourage parishes to pray continually for the synod by providing petitions to be included in the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful) at Mass.

• Provide parishes with bulletin articles on the synod.

• Offer ongoing formation in being a synodal Church through The Evangelist and diocesan social media platforms.

This is only the beginning! The Synod Team will continue to listen to the Holy Spirit, to one another, and to the People of God throughout the Diocese, so that we can become a welcoming Church, a Church of listening, a Church of closeness and compassion.

David Amico is director for the Office of Lay Ministry and Parish Faith Formation and is a member of the Diocesan Synod Committee.