Summary of Synod proceedings in the dioceses

Diocese of Elk

Diocesan synthesis (PDF version below)

We invite you to read the diocesan synthesis summarizing the diocesan stage of the synod on synodality in the Diocese of Elk. The document was compiled on the basis of syntheses from synodal meetings in deaneries, parishes, communities, institutions, apostolic and professional groups, congregations, etc.

Below is the full text of the diocesan synthesis:

The 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops:

“Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”.

Diocese of Elk

Diocesan synthesis


– Inauguration of the diocesan stage

The opening ceremony of the synod took place on October 17, 2021
In the Cathedral of Elk. The Mass was presided over by Bishop Jerzy Mazur, Bishop of Elk. The homily was delivered by Bishop Adrian Galbas, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Elk. The inauguration was attended by the staff of the Elk Diocesan Curia, moderators of the Higher Seminary of the Diocese of Elk, representatives of all the deaneries of the Diocese of Elk, Persons of Consecrated Life, permanent deacons, seminarians, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, representatives of ecclesial communities and movements, and lay faithful. In his introduction to the Mass, the Bishop of Elk noted that we are encouraged to stand firm in our faith and embark on the synodal path, to walk together, and above all to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to listen to the voice of the people through whom the Holy Spirit speaks and prompts. In his homily, Bishop Adrian Galbas explained that the diocesan stage of the synod, which is beginning, is an opportunity to look together at the Church we are building in parishes, deaneries, communities, throughout the diocese, as well as to ask ourselves the simplest of questions: is the Church we are building the one Christ invites us to build? Is the Church we are building the one whose model we find in the Gospel? And if not, or not quite, why, and what can we, what should we, and what must we do to make it more evangelical? Before the blessing, the Bishop of Elk appointed the Diocesan Synodal Team and presented the Rector and all the Deans with synodal candles. On Sunday, October 24, 2021, the synod was inaugurated in all parishes of the Diocese of Elk and all religious communities.

– Synodal publication

The Department of General Pastoral Care of the Elk Diocesan Curia has prepared a publication containing materials to help conduct synodal meetings to speak out on the topics proposed by the Holy See. The publication contains handouts of ten meetings. Each meeting begins with synodal prayer and consideration of a passage of Scripture. The consideration of the Holy Scriptures is followed by an introduction to the topic and a prompt for everyone to speak, taking into account the questions given by the Holy See. The discussion part is followed by a summary of the meeting and the writing of conclusions, which will be forwarded to the Diocesan Synodal Team.

– Work of the Diocesan Synodal Team

The Diocesan Synodal Team consisted of twelve people. The individual meetings were held from October 2021 to May 2022. Each member of the Diocesan Synodal Team has been assigned parishes of each decanate to oversee synodal work in the assigned parishes. Each meeting of the Diocesan Synodal Team consisted of two parts: discussing the progress of synodal work in individual parishes and discussing one of the ten synodal themes. Until December 2021, the diocesan coordinator was Bishop Adrian Galbas, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Elk. Meanwhile, as of December 2021, the diocesan coordinator became Fr. Jacek Uchan, director of the General Pastoral Care Department of the Elk Diocesan Curia.

– Formation and work of Parish Synodal Teams and other synodal groups

Each parish was to appoint one or more synodal teams. For this purpose, a meeting of the Parish Pastoral Council was held together with the leaders of all communities operating in the parish. The Parish Synodal Team consisted of a maximum of twelve people. The synodal work lasted from November 2021 to May 2022. Each Parish Synodal Team elected its own coordinator, who was contacted by an assigned person from the Diocesan Synodal Team. In the Diocese of Elk, 180 Parish Synodal Teams were formed, comprising 110 priests, 23 religious sisters, 18 alumni of the Major Seminary and about 2,000 lay faithful. Conclusions from synodal meetings were received from 140 synodal groups. There was also an opportunity to take part in the synodal work individually. At that time, one’s synodal reflections were sent electronically to the Elk Diocesan Curia. Participation in synod work was encouraged through parish announcements and social media.


– Travel companions

Travel companions in most cases are those who come to church. Priests, permanent deacons, religious sisters and lay people are walking together. Parish community formed by people of different status and education, different degrees of religiosity. These are people who identify with a common creed, who are drawn to the same path by this creed and Christian values, and who identify with the Church’s teaching. Many of the synod’s conclusions emphasized that walking together is better seen in the individual communities that exist in the parish and in small parishes. Then one knows the other personally, knows his joys, sufferings and difficult experiences. There is room in the Church not only for those who practice sacramental life, but also for those who, for various reasons, are deprived of it.

– Listening

In many cases, the parish rectory is seen as a place to come and talk to a priest about troubling issues and problems. Special places when lay people have the opportunity to be heard are group meetings. Then, in smaller communities, they can express their concerns or opinions on particular topics.

– Taking the floor

The faithful have the opportunity to speak out due to various circumstances. They have the opportunity to express themselves during a pastoral visit or during personal meetings with the parish priest. A much better opportunity to speak is available to members of parish councils and members of various church groups and communities.

– Celebration

It is gratifying to know that in many parishes priests celebrate Masses. and services with due respect and devotion. The homilies are based on the Word of God, are preached in language that is easy to understand, address the problems of the faithful and are free of political commentary.

The involvement of the entire liturgical team is evident: altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. In much of the parish, there is visible concern for the cleanliness and decoration of the parish church building and branch chapels, concern for the cleanliness of vestments and liturgical paraments.

In many parishes, the faithful are actively involved in the liturgy of the Mass. Through singing. There are parish choirs and youth scholas.

– Shared responsibility in the mission

More and more lay people are beginning to understand that everyone by virtue of baptism is called to witness to their faith where they live, work or study, and the first place of evangelization should be the family. More and more laymen understand that we are most effective in evangelization in our daily affairs, because first of all we testify with our lives and views.

Through their personal prayer, many parishioners actively contribute to the missions. Many parishes have a prayer for missions and missionaries during the liturgy. Connection to missionaries by Church members is expressed not only in prayerful remembrance for missionaries and mission countries, but also by addressing material needs (such as joining in collections for missions and other forms of assistance). The faithful eagerly take up spiritual adoption of the missionary, praying for him and supporting him materially. In many parishes, missionaries are invited to bear witness to their missionary work and with their enthusiasm motivate greater missionary involvement.

Children and young people eagerly join in various pastoral actions for the missions: “missionary carolers,” “Epiphany procession,” missionary competitions, school missionary circles, missionary volunteering. Children, adolescents and adults eagerly participated in the National Mission Congress in Warsaw and two Mission Congresses in the Diocese of Elk. The fruit of the synodality of the Elk Church is the initiation of the Elk Youth Missionary Volunteer Service, which consciously recognizes the needs of the Church and responds to them in volunteer service.

– Conducting dialogue in the Church and society

Dialogue takes place primarily in individual parish groups and communities. It is usually related to specific topics, problems in a particular community and serves to discuss them and seek ways to solve them and take action.

In many cases, dialogue within the Church is most often carried out during pastoral visits to homes, in-person meetings, formation meetings in preparation for receiving the Holy Sacraments, and on various occasions at school. The synod meetings brought parishioners together to exchange views on the topic of the meeting. Previously, there were no such meetings although they were very much needed and expected.

– Dialogue with other Christian denominations

Most of our community is Catholic, a few are of other faiths. There is no hostility between us, rather tolerance prevails. Relations between Christians are good and it is worth striving to make them even better. In meetings and conversations, barriers are not built, but the focus is on what unites. These include neighborhood contacts, workplace contacts, or mixed marriages.

– Power and participation

In the vast majority, the respect and obedience shown to the bishop is evident. In many cases, the parish priest is seen as the true shepherd of the faithful in the parish, who in no way shows superiority over his parishioners and comes to their aid if he can.

Increasingly, there is a perception that everyone is responsible for the parish community through various activities: participation in the pastoral council, the economic council, the Parish Caritas Team, various communities, or care for the temple. The participation of the laity in the issue of responsibility for the Church is open. However not all the faithful are directly interested in the affairs of the Church, there is no problem of including them in direct cooperation. They are pleased to see cases of teamwork between priests and laymen in various fields. Goodwill is evident from both sides in pastoral activities that serve the welfare of the faithful.

– Discernment and decision-making

In most parishes, Priests try to listen to the voice of the faithful. Final decisions are made by voting or taken independently by the priests. The implementation of a specific pastoral or economic action is announced to the faithful, emphasizing that it is a joint decision of priests and lay representatives of the parish.

– Forming for synodality

There is proper formation in the various parish communities and groups, so that everyone has the courage to speak out and strive first and foremost for what is good for the Church.


– Travel companions

Travel companions are mainly household members, relatives, neighbors, friends, co-workers. On a daily basis, church members do not have time for each other. They don’t have time to build community among themselves and with each other beyond a time of praying together and participating in the Eucharist. Not everyone who is “on the margins” wants to belong to the Church, and not everyone wants to receive such help from the Church.

The problem is the lack of a common language and the lack of relationships with other community members. This causes people to feel left behind, feel neglected and consequently end up on the margins or leave the Church. The lack of unity in the church hierarchy and the lack of authority are also obstacles to forming a full community. On the sidelines remain those who do not want to be involved in any way in the life of the Church. This attitude is often dictated by indifference and dislike of the Church. It is disturbing that many people live outside the Church and are in no way interested in living their faith.

We definitely do not want to go along with dissenters and those who call for various forms of deviation from the principles of the Catholic faith.

– Listening

Lack of time of the clergy to listen to the lay faithful. The needs are currently very high. In some cases, priests do not have the time to do this, or this time is significantly limited. Listening is hindered by the lack of an attitude of openness and sometimes trust of the laity towards priests. It is hindered by falsehoods, dilution of the Church’s teachings, lack of listening skills, lack of ability to ask the right questions to show interest and make the listener feel safe. Some of the synod’s conclusions pointed out that the faithful are only listened to at the sacrament of confession, priests do not listen to the voice and needs of parishioners, and consider their own ideas to be the best, and are accustomed to giving orders. It is also saddening that in some parishes there are no youth ministry groups.

– Taking the floor

Difficulty in speaking up is often due to being judged by others or fear of exposing oneself to others. Often the views of the majority are duplicated. Many people are afraid of expressing their own opinion on a subject, lest they be misjudged or attacked. In more than a dozen synodal conclusions, the conviction was expressed that only those who are determined to face all kinds of difficult consequences choose to speak out honestly.

It is worth considering the language of the articles contained in the Catholic press, since the audience is mostly elderly or middle-aged people. Articles should be written in clear, understandable language. Also, the language of the bishops’ pastoral letters is often too difficult, laden with strictly theological terminology.

Speaking about the Church outside the Church is difficult. Increasingly, one can encounter the hostility of an interlocutor who already has his or her own established negative views on Church issues and does not want to listen to people with a different opinion, but only to voice his or her opinion. There are more and more situations when people make extremely bold and even aggressive statements about the Church or the doctrine the Church preaches.

– Celebration

Unfortunately, there are faithful who attend the Eucharist guided mainly by tradition rather than true faith. In some priests, routine in the service and celebration of the Eucharist is noted. Also evident is the introduction of worldly elements into the liturgy by some priests and laymen, thereby destroying the sense of the Sacred. In more than a dozen synodal conclusions, there is a call to protect the liturgy from secularization. In some places there is non-liturgical or even purely secular music.

Formation of children, adolescents and adults on the importance of the value of the Eucharist and the ability to live it in a Catholic manner is needed. Children and young people come to church and receive the sacraments out of necessity or obligation (such as First Communion or the sacrament of Confirmation). When they join the First Holy Communion. or confirmation discontinue religious practices.

– Shared responsibility in the mission

There is still a lack of conviction in many families in the diocese that parents are the first transmitters of faith to their children, that they are “a kind of missionaries” by teaching them to pray, practicing sacramental life and sending their child to religious instruction. Many of the synod’s conclusions stressed that the family is no longer a school of faith, and that in parents there is a lack of example in transmitting and strengthening the faith.

More media communication is needed using m capabilities. in. Internet. High quality in this area can contribute to better outreach to seekers who will open up and share their problems.

– Conducting dialogue in the Church and society

There are very many differences of opinion among people. Some are due to generational differences, e.g., the young look at premarital chastity, living together before marriage, truth, etc., differently. Some are the fruit of differences in social and political perceptions. It is difficult to dialogue with people who treat the Church only as an institution and not as a community.

– Dialogue with other Christian denominations

There are cases of not accepting followers of other religions. We are unable to draw on the wealth of other religions. In some circles, the promotion of ecumenism is negligible.

– Power and participation

There are cases of abuse of power. Priests, people in charge or prominent in the Church (including lay people), with their position already established. They are reluctant to accept comments, opinions and ideas from third parties. Several synodal syntheses stressed that priests consider themselves infallible and are closed to suggestions from parishioners.

In some parishes, the degree of lay involvement is negligible. Among the reasons cited are the following: lack of desire to get involved in anything, the accumulation of other activities, being able to get involved in the Church now is not seen as a source of pride, lack of a good organizer who would skillfully encourage parishioners to get involved.

– Discernment and decision-making

The synod’s conclusions call for pastors to respect greater autonomy during the work of parish councils in their areas of operation. Sometimes, instead of a substantive discussion during meetings with parish councils, there is a statement by the parish priest: “because I order it that way.”

– Forming for synodality

For many, synodality is a misunderstood concept.

Diocesan coordinator: the Rev. Jacek Uchan

Secretariat of the synod: S. Blanka Szymanska OSB

Diocesan synthesis (PDF version)



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