Summary of Synod proceedings in the dioceses

Diocese of Gliwice

Diocesan synthesis (PDF version below)

Full text of the document, submitted to the Institute of Catholic Church Statistics in Warsaw.

Document: Synthesis of the Synodal Way of the Diocese of Gliwice.

The Diocese of Gliwice is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. anniversary (Bull of John Paul II Totus Tuus Poloniae populus – March 25, 1992). The diocesan stage of the synodal journey is an opportunity for listening and dialogue at the local-diocesan level. According to the Vademecum, a synthesis is an act of discernment and a contribution to the next stage of the synodal process: “In this sense, a synthesis not only informs about common trends and points of convergence, but also highlights those points that strike a chord, inspire an original point of view or open a new horizon.”

“The road map” of meetings in the Gliwice diocese went in three directions: I) Synodal path – parish; II) The synodal way – the young; III) Synodal path – periphery.

Handouts-materials for five formation meetings (youth and parish/community versions) and a set of survey questions for group discussions were prepared:

  1. On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) – “Traveling Companions” (December);
  2. Meeting with the young man(Mark 10:17-37) “Discernment and decision-making” (January);
  3. Meeting with Peter (John 21:15-19) – “Authority and Participation”(February);
  4. Encountering the Samaritan woman(John 4:6-42) – “Engaging in dialogue in the Church
    and society”
  5. Meeting with the sons of Zebedee (Mark 10:35-45) – “Co-responsible in mission” (April).

The handouts are accompanied by a set of survey questions with encouragement to create a parish or community synthesis.

Diocesan synodal groups gathered around the indicated topics: 61 parish groups (out of 156 parishes); 30 groups within communities and associations; and several groups from the periphery. A special group was formed by academics (DA Resurexit) and seminarians (Interdiocesan Higher Seminary in Opole), with invited guests from various backgrounds. Here are some of the comments from this body:

“Many participants agreed in that in the Church, the other person is often approached with superiority and prejudice against them, which is a significant barrier to building good relationships. The thing that makes it extremely difficult to build relationships is the hermeneutic nature of the groups that already exist, making it hard to feel like a member of a community. The fear of rejection that comes from new people suggests that something needs to be changed in our functioning. On the other hand, what each of us can bring to the community is undoubtedly commitment, dedication of time, sensitivity to the other person and listening to him. It’s also important, going out to ask our neighbor to show them that we need help.”

“What’s interesting about the DA synod is that some seminarians from the seminary in Opole are also attending. It comes as quite a surprise to some of us that they go out to the laity. That’s the way it should be, you can’t just lock yourself in your environment. It’s important to have contact between each party and exchange ideas with each other (…). “Meetings with seminarians and guests helped me gain a little more knowledge and experience on various important topics that are not often or hardly ever covered in churches or sermons. I was able to talk in a group and see things from a different perspective, as well as share my valuable experience and experience of the Church. I realized the importance of the life of the laity in the church and their lively participation in church affairs.”

I. Synodal path – parish

In each of the 61. parish, the pastor – after consultation – named a lay person as coordinator of the parish synod group. Meanwhile, communities, associations and groups operating in our diocese have selected their representatives (coordinators). The involvement of the faithful revealed a genuine concern for the Church as a “community of communities” – also created a space for listening to each other, gathering experiences, new questions and expressing concerns in the spirit of the biblical principle of “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:17). Synod meetings were combined with prayer and discussion. The diocese also held – in addition to the liturgical inauguration ceremony – two plenary meetings at the St. Joseph Center. The event was held at the St. John Paul II Church in Gliwice (in February and May this year) with the participation of bishops and group coordinators from across the diocese.

In parish groups, the pattern of meetings was shaped in different ways (multiple forms); in addition to joint meetings, opportunities were created, for example, to express themselves by submitting anonymous answers to selected questions to a box marked “synod.” However, there has been rather little interest in the meetings, especially from those in the so-called “socially disadvantaged” areas. periphery, and rather “favorable” comments were received among written survey responses. Most of the people attending the meetings were people from existing communities or close to the Church, hence their point of view expressed concern, acceptance, understanding of the tasks and mission of the Church.

The number of written responses was small, but among them “one could feel a sincere concern for the Church, but also a little helplessness” (suggestion from a parish group).

Around the five themes identified, it is necessary to highlight some common issues “resonating” in our diocese. The selection of original statements (comments) of meeting participants – as suggested by the ISKK – is subjective, but consulted/discussed within the team of diocesan coordinators and other collaborators:

  • “Travel Companions.

In response to a question about the pastor’s contact with different groups of believers, the following breakdown of participants in the synodal path was made:

  1. involved – prayer and formation meetings, meetings of the Parish Council once a quarter, in addition to discussing current important issues as needed (including meetings with those responsible for communities operating in the parish);
  2. Sundays – pastoral visitation, occasionally in the chancellery, when dealing with various matters (ordering Mass intentions, pre-baptismal teachings, preparation for the sacrament of marriage), meetings with parents of children preparing for First Communion;
  3. non-practicing – occasionally (one-on-one contacts, sometimes as part of a pastoral visit).

Question: what individuals or groups are actually left on the margins of parish life?

“During the discussion, members of the synodal group recognized that, indeed, only those who do not practice and do not have special economic or sacramental needs are excluded from the life of the parish, by their own choice they remain outside the community. This is because charitable diakonia or formation related to sacramental preparation always reaches people traditionally considered marginalized (low economic status, difficult family situation). However, the feeling of the meeting’s participants was also that in a broader sense, children and young people (other than the Marianas and altar servers) in a parish sense may be a marginalized group, because catechists in schools that are located within the parish are implicitly responsible for their formation.”

More and more people who are active and involved in parishes and communities undertake ongoing spiritual formation and undertake, for example. Formator Course organized by our diocese.

  • “Discernment and Decision Making.”

Here are comments on the process of discernment and decision-making in the parish community:

“All (important) decisions are made by the Pastor (…). At the chancellery and after Masses. you can always talk. In addition, in matters of importance, the pastor is always available (…) Those involved see no obstacles (in communication between the priest and the laity jk), especially in our parish. Others may feel distanced, in the minds of the faithful the priest is placed higher. The obstacle may be the inadequate life of a layman and hence the lack of courage to turn to a priest. Besides, there are prejudices, stereotypes, just like in human communication. Especially among the young, there is resistance from a peer or other group.”

“The basic communication problem is the lack of a common language due to distance. The experience of the lives and problems of lay parishioners does not match the experience of pastoralists, which gives rise to a mass of small and large misunderstandings. This incompatibility is primarily due to a lack of knowledge (laymen do not understand the way of life specific to priests, they have a false image of the Church, and again priests often have a misconception about family life. Communication is also not facilitated by the lack of theological formation of parishioners, for whom the decisions of pastors in many areas are sometimes incomprehensible. Another obstacle to communication between priests and parishioners is the fact that pastors, by virtue of their duties, function primarily in the area of the rectory, church and school, which narrows the meeting space and makes them little visible on the parish grounds. The smaller this space of reaching out to each other (this applies to both sides, after all, only some of the parishioners also frequent the temple), the more distrust, fear and sometimes hostility appears in mutual relations. Similar feelings and communication problems are not shared by those parishioners whose contact with pastors is based on a personal relationship, getting to know the family, visits and conversations. However, this is often a product of character traits (both of individual parishioners and priests), rather than structural or organizational solutions that would create and strengthen such relationships at the parish level.”

Also relevant was the question: what impact does social media have on the lives of parishioners?

“Our youngest parishioners naturally function online, and a parish Facebook page has been created for them, with a lay person entrusted to run it. Its function is to inform-remind about parish events. A full overview of current information from the life of the parish can be found on the website, which is regularly visited by middle-aged parishioners. On the other hand, a smartphone app has yet been developed for both, which is an intermediate version between a tool for communicating with priests and the Parish Council and a handy parish guide.”

“(…) The media are an essential element in the identity and way of life of the young, technology can be harmful to human dignity if it is not used in accordance with conscience and prudence, and when using it one forgets about the human being; the media have a huge impact – for people of good will it brings a lot of good; one can check Mass intentions on the Internet, one can raise an interesting topic on the Internet or praise or criticize something (…) The synodal meeting made it possible for laity and clergy to look at problems from different points of view and reflect together on their solution.”

  • “Power and Participation.

When asked about associations and social organizations operating in parishes:

“An Association for the development of the village (…) was established, which, among other things, has as its statutory goal “maintaining and disseminating religious and national traditions” and also integration with a religious emphasis around the branch church (…).

To the question, How do prayer and liturgical celebration inspire action? (The impact of pastoral letters on reality):

“Activities, especially in the communities, are ‘prayed for,’ the listening of the Holy Spirit is preserved, and ‘spiritual and economic works’ are commended to God in prayer by the pastor. Shepherd’s letters are difficult to receive directly (read them) and give little. On the other hand, if they carry an idea, they change reality (e.g., the Year of Mercy introduced a turn toward mercy, and the Year of St. Joseph – there were monthly adorations of the Blessed Sacrament with St. Joseph, etc.).”

“This topic greatly enlivened the activity of those gathered and revealed many extreme views (…). Those with progressive views, most often young people, expect pastoral letters to carry a clearly formulated message, using modernized language, containing less theological content and, above all, to give the faithful guidance on how to deal with the process of secularization, where is the limit of liberalization or diminishing the importance of the sacrament of marriage, etc. After listening to the pastoral letter, the faithful need to know what it was about. Similar comments from the attendees were made about the sermons and homilies they heard while attending Masses. In different parishes.”

  • “Conducting Dialogue in the Church and Society.”

To the question, How do we develop dialogue experiences with non-believers?

“The parish does not dialogue with non-believers (…) As a community (SNE jk) we want to create a “Meeting” on the parish grounds, that is, a meeting place for people who, for various reasons, will not come to church. It would be a place of listening, witnessing and, above all, openness to every person.”

To the question: how are differences of opinion, conflicts and difficulties resolved?

“The problem is rooted in the lack of distinction between the attitudes of a particular clergyman and those of the Catholic Church. Often you can hear that young people do not believe in the Church, but they believe in God.This is the result of the fact that people especially young people often did not receive a full transmission of faith in the family home or received an infantile transmission. Young people want to develop, they want to act, but they don’t always know how. Therefore, it is important, especially for the young, to properly motivate spiritual development and explain to them the problems that arise especially concerning church people and not to ‘sweep problems under the rug’.”

  • “Shared Responsibility in Mission.”

To the question: what is the awareness among those involved of the need for further education and evangelization training?

“It all depends on the leader of a particular parish group. He is the one who has to want to develop so that people see it and follow suit. Because of the charism of our community, this awareness is very high and crucial (SNE jk). (…) The problem is that the parish in the broader consciousness is not missionary. Consequently, according to other communities, there is no need for evangelization.”

In turn, to the question: what initiatives should the parish take to integrate the community?

“Openness to people: willingness to work with people, listening to their ideas, making rooms available during free hours, e.g., for children’s art workshops, parish festivities, spending time together, e.g., barbecue, openness of the parish priest, vicars who are there for people after the Eucharist, ready to have a short talk, a smile, create a meeting place; subsidizing the activities of parish groups, encouraging participation in parish groups” (SNE proposals).

In some parishes and communities, meetings were held to summarize the synodal work, and there appeared the need to continue such pastoral and evangelization forms, such as the need to initiate or return to adult catechesis; to seek forms of evangelization of “those distant from the Church”; the demand for the return of catechesis of children and young people at the parish. The theme of “listening to each other” seemed very timely to everyone, for building a space for listening to each other in many aspects and areas of life, such as educating “for silence” – adoration prayer (worship). It also appeared:

“(…) The problem of the German synodal path. Participants in the meeting recognized that this issue also applies to our Church, as close contacts with foreign countries (work, family) mean that what happens in some part of the Church ceases to be local and affects the thinking and attitudes of people from other regions and countries. The faithful allude to this in questions, often making claims that the Polish Church considers behavior acceptable in other churches (issues of contraception, Holy Communion for cohabitating couples, attitudes toward LGBT) to be a sin. Participants in synodal meetings here feel there is too little support from the clergy, especially the hierarchy, and see a real danger of splitting the Church (…) And the very idea of synodality is seen more as increasing the threat to Church unity than as an opportunity to deepen the responsibility of all the faithful for the communities they co-create and the entire People of God.”

II. The synodal way – young people

In the same key of five thematic meetings were held monthly meetings of the youth of our diocese. The synodal journey of the youth took place each time in a different parish (Bytom, Gliwice-Redemptorists, Tworóg, Sierakowice, Gliwice-Sosnica). They began with Mass, during which one of the five prepared synodal themes was considered along with questions, which after the Eucharist were taken up first individually (during adoration) and later in small groups. The most important words to sum up the synodal journey of the youth are: meeting, talking, understanding.

  1. Meeting
    – was the one that made it possible for quite a number of young people to be present, and behind that to create relationships and mutual exchange. The advantages of the meeting were the venues agreed upon so that as many young people as possible could attend. They were able to organize themselves and take care of those who did not have, how to get there and brought peers. The meeting made it happen to meet new people, and therefore exchange experiences of young people from different communities, with different characteristics of action. There were also those who were not affiliated with any community. For these, the meetings have become a kind of encouragement and invitation to join the ranks of any of the communities. The meeting became a place to exchange information about various events happening in the parishes, as well as in the diocese, but at the same time showed the still weak communication between parishes. Young took care of human needs, such as a simple “tea or cake”, which greatly influenced the sense of a good home atmosphere .
  2. Interview– The dialogue of the youth took place first before God by meditating on a proposed passage of Scripture, and later by facing the survey questions individually during adoration. The youth emphasized their readiness to answer serious questions and their willingness to ask them. They also stressed the problem of answering the questions God poses to them. With these thoughts, young people went to small group meetings after Mass, where they shared their discoveries, experiences and what God had touched in their hearts with His Word. The deep need for such meetings, where they could talk and exchange thoughts together about the life of faith and any related doubts and struggles, resounded. With each meeting, the young people saw more and more the desire to have a conversation – a dialogue to break down barriers. The conversations expressed concern for the Church, as well as for each other, but also for their priests and for new vocations.

  3. Understanding
    – through the exchange of so many different experiences, the participants of the meetings were able to convince themselves of the openness to understand another person, and behind this to accept him or her with all his or her history, without demeaning, condemning or deleting anyone; the young people themselves said that they were “accepted” or “able to accept someone.” In the space of understanding, young people pointed out the great need for spiritual directors to accompany them on their journey of spiritual development and vocation discernment. The unavailability of priests or their reluctance to provide individual leadership was shown as a problem to be solved.

In the young people coming to the synod meetings created not only a great desire to talk, but also to share their faith with each other or actively participate in the life of parish communities. There was no shortage of difficult topics or problems in the life of the Church, but also a search for understanding and answers. What “helped” the young the most was the creation of a suitable meeting place and an atmosphere of openness and friendliness.

Meetings in small groups were led by a group of young people who are preparing for the ministry of animators in their parishes as part of the diocesan “Animator School.”

III. Synodal path – periphery

The third direction of the local synodal path sought to pay special attention to the voices of those who are not often heard and to integrate what might be called the “minority report” (cf. Vademecum). In an attempt to reduce all these experiences to some common denominator, participants’ suggestions were divided into three categories: joys, fears and hopes.

  1. Joys.It’s all those situations where the individuals or groups in question experienced something positive and it was related to faith. There have been some for whom God and faith in Him are a tremendous support in experiencing everyday life. Since we are talking about the “periphery,” these are usually people whose lives are realized in difficult conditions. It is for them that it is especially important to be close to God, which gives meaning to their efforts, but also gives hope for a better future. Another positive clearly accentuated is the Church’s assistance, which is realized through various groups and people involved in Caritas ministries, as well as through centers and specialized ministries. The assistance mentioned ranges from material support to spiritual or even psychological support. Each of the places in our diocese where people who for some reason are on the sidelines of society’s life are being helped uses these three levels to support and help others. The development of sacramental life for such people and various forms of “accompaniment” should also be mentioned here. As an example, consider the pastoral care at the Educational and Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled in Rusinowice, where children with varying degrees of disabilities are prepared for First Communion, Confirmation or Confession. This is carried out with sensitivity and delicacy, taking into account their situations. In all this, no one is left without help.
  2. Concerns. All situations in which the individuals or groups in question experienced something negative, it was related to a crisis of their faith. Unfortunately, in this case we have to face the painful truth about ourselves as a community (cf. Galatians 6:2).
    While the Church’s support is realized through people involved in various charitable groups or institutions, negative experiences are associated with living among the faithful on a daily basis. It is about various forms of misunderstanding of a particular person’s problem, pointing out or pushing him away because of his life situation or lack of religious commitment. Unfortunately, priests are also involved in all of this, which takes place, for example, in parish chancelleries or on the occasion of school or parish (sacramental) catechization. An example from the lives of parents of people with disabilities can be cited. They share negative experiences, speaking of the insensitivity of priests when preparing their disabled children to receive the sacraments. This involved, for example, fear and the inability to adequately provide catechesis for people with special needs. Negative experiences often come not so much from bad structures, but rather from the immaturity or lack of professionalism of teachers and educators.
  3. Hopes. The conclusions that can be drawn from the above voices – positive and negative – are nevertheless hopeful. They can be boiled down to a number of socio-pastoral demands:
  • not so much to create new structures or places of assistance, but to take care of the promotion of those already established (e.g., charity centers or relief centers);
  • in the formation of the faithful, put the emphasis on openness to people who, for some reason, have a difficult life situation;
  • All those involved in Caritas ministry should be allowed to gather experience in places where “people of the periphery” are helped, while candidates for clergy should be expanded and made such practices a requirement, since encountering such situations later in their pastoral work often shows ignorance and insensitivity.

IV. General postulates – diocesan:

  • Building personal relationships between clergy and laity in the parish (conversation after Sunday liturgy, parish cafes, oratories…);
  • Emphasizing the missionary-evangelizing vocation of the parish;
  • Building diocesan and parish community, e.g., renewing the pilgrimage movement of groups, communities, associations;
  • A proposal for daily homilies during the liturgy;
  • creation of diocesan courses for adult lectors; formers of communities, groups and associations;
  • cooperation of parishes and communities, e.g. Schools of New Evangelization in the organization of school and parish retreats, training and evangelization courses;
  • Verification of the effectiveness of pastoral activities in the parish with the possibility of improving their efficiency;
  • Increasing awareness of the teaching of Catholic social teaching;
  • Continuation of meetings and catechesis to deepen the synodal questions;
  • The promotion of a culture of dialogue and encounter – openness to remote people, the so-called “culture of dialogue”. “sympathizers” (F. Blachnicki) and those living in non-sacramental unions, contesting the moral teaching of the Church, etc.
  • Updating parish web pages, with the possibility of constant correspondence and exchange of opinions (clergy – laity).

Rev. Jan Kochel – diocesan coordinator

Rev. Tomasz Wolnik

Rev. Patrick Gawlowski

Gliwice, May 28, 2022.

Synthesis in PDF version

Diocesan synthesis – Diocese of Gliwice


Summaries of the synodal process in other dioceses

Diecezja Sosnowiecka

Na początku maja bieżącego roku zakończył się diecezjalny etap synodu o synodalności. Po zakończeniu prac, diecezjalny zespół koordynacyjny, opracował syntezę, która następnie została przekazana odpowiednim organom Konferencji Episkopatu. Synteza została przygotowana na podstawie przeprowadzonych konsultacji oraz ankiet otrzymanych przez zespół diecezjalny.
Zebrane myśli zostały przedstawione bez oceniania i wartościowania oraz, w przypadku konkretnych uwag, bez weryfikowania zgodności ze stanem faktycznym – ich celem jest przekazanie pragnień i doświadczeń przedstawionych przez uczestników synodu.
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Archidiecezja Wrocławska

„…Kościół jest jak mieszkanie z osobnymi pokojami, które nie łączą się ze sobą nawet ścianami”. Tak rozpoczyna się opis doświadczenia Kościoła wyrażony na spotkaniu synodalnym młodzieży archidiecezji wrocławskiej w ramach Parlamentu Młodych. „W każdym z pokojów zgromadzone są różne grupy: młodzież, osoby niewierzące, księża, parafianie, biskup. Teoretycznie są razem, ale tak naprawdę – osobno. Pomiędzy nimi znajduje się zimny korytarz, na który nikt nie chce wyjść, bo boi się utraty ciepła swojego pokoju. W zimnym korytarzu również przebywają ludzie. Ponieważ nie mogą wejść do żadnego pokoju, zaczynają wychodzić z mieszkania. Tym, co sprawia, że mieszkanie tak wygląda, jest brak chęci zrozumienia innych. W mieszkaniu tym potrzebny jest remont. Remont polega na budowaniu dróg, które prowadzą do Chrystusa. Mogą go przeprowadzić tylko osoby, które zauważają obecną sytuację”.

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Archidiecezja Białostocka

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