Reflections on the Synod
Dioceses across the world responded last October when Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality – a process for the pope to hear from the faithful at a grassroots level. Bishops were encouraged to consult with their flocks and their priests in a spirit of collaboration and openness.
I would like to offer a brief reflection on the diocesan Synodal Synthesis.
I encourage you to read and to reflect upon the discussions focusing on four areas covering nine themes. The four principal areas are Hunger for Relationship, Creating a Welcoming Culture, Increased Opportunities for Personal Spiritual Growth, and Growth in Leadership.
The nine themes have given me much food for thought and prayer as I ponder my own leadership as bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.
I noted in the first theme a desire among our people for deeper and more virtuous friendships. Our culture often promotes friendships of convenience or utility; the church must support the building of long-lasting and deeper friendship among our people.
The second theme identified a great desire for the parish to become more of a family rather than a formal and sterile association of like-minded people.
Number three reflected a need for unity and cohesion in the parish communities, resisting the cultural tendency to isolate individuals or groups.
The fourth theme emphasized the importance of true and more authentic hospitality and that this is the responsibility of each member of the parish and diocese.
Theme five spoke powerfully of a desire for people to be known, valued, and loved.
The sixth theme identified the need for more adult faith formation, given that so much of our efforts in the diocese are directed to the youth.
Seven spoke of a need for more prayer and more opportunities to serve.
The eighth theme centered on the topic of priests needing to be more present and more inviting with the people they serve.
And the ninth reflected on the need for the bishop and priests to invite more lay participation in leadership and decision-making both on the diocesan level and on the parish level.
While this is just a summary, the entire document on the website offers a greater explanation of each theme under its respective area. Please take some time to read this important report.
I want to thank the Synod Task Force headed by Father John Jirak and his team in the department of Evangelization, Discipleship, and Stewardship for leading this effort.
Others on the task force are Ryan Purcell, Audrey Ronnfeldt, Jake Samour, Dr. Jamie Finkeldei, Clem Ast, and Travis Gear. Thanks also to the pastors who hosted parish and regional consultations. I’m grateful to the nearly 1,000 participants who took the time to attend one of the 23 consultations, your prayers, dialogue, and input during these gatherings are an invaluable gift to our diocese.
As my own leadership team convenes and as I engage with the priests, the Diocesan Curia, the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, and the Diocesan Pastoral Council, I will be inviting further dialogue from these groups as we move forward fulfilling the desire of Pope Francis to become a synodal church, a synodal diocese, walking together on a mission to the Kingdom of Heaven. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will energize us on this journey.
Thank you! God bless you!
+The Most Reverend Carl A. Kemme
Bishop of Wichita