The course of the synodal process
Description of how the synodal process looked like in each diocese, key dates, milestones, positive experiences, what was difficult in the synodal meetings. This is the introductory part of many diocesan syntheses.
Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF
HOPES, FEARS AND ANXIETIES
The task of the Universal Synod announced by Pope Francis XVI is to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. The process of broad consultation on the condition of the Church, to which everyone was invited, including non-Catholics, elicited various reactions, which can be boiled down to four attitudes: (1) enthusiasm and gratitude for creating the space and giving the opportunity to speak in the Church, especially by the laity; (2) fear, distance and distrust Before embarking on the synodal path associated, for example, with the so-called. German way (among other proposals for doctrinal changes) and arousal of claimantism against the Church; (3) fears and disbelief as to whether we, as ordinary Christians, have anything to say to the Pope and whether the voice of the lay faithful will even be heard; (4) a noticeable lack of interest among many priests, laymen and even among thriving communities whose members did not feel the need to become personally involved in the synod or only delegated representatives to attend.
These doubts and hopes are illustrated by the following sample statements: “Is it possible to reliably gather and elaborate all the voices of God’s people on this issue? And so the final eloquence of all the statements will be decided by the rapporteurs”; “What is this synod for!”; “What is its real meaning?”; “Talking about the Church is very necessary […] it responds to the deep desires of living the faith.”
Attitudes toward the synod projected a clear contestation of the synod, or at least a failure to recognize its significance. It should be noted that the synodal process failed to involve both the majority of the lay faithful and a large number of priests, who did not “participate in the synodal meetings of the decanal presbytery, ignored invitations to hold synodal meetings in their parishes, or unilaterally dominated the meetings, orienting them so that there was no opportunity to freely express their own views or comments.” Even the coercion – taking place in some dioceses – to organize a parish synodal team did not help. This conclusion should not be generalized to all priests in Poland, but nevertheless touches on an important problem of involvement in the synod. Syntheses show that enthusiasm was and is more on the side of the committed laity. The synod involved the laity more than the priests also because it was the former who gained through it the opportunity to speak out and be heard. As one participant expressed it: “The synod meeting was the first experience in my life where I was able to express myself and felt listened to.” On the other hand, “parish and community synodal teams expressed concern about disregarding the conclusions of the synodal work, since in many of the evaluations and statements The synod still remains on the fringes of parishes and church communities.”
The very act of meeting is the first fruit of the synod. It transformed participants’ fears and anxieties into an uplifting experience. What surprised many participants in the sharing groups was the mutual openness, sincerity of expression and willingness to listen to each other’s individual experiences. The attitudes were devoid of tension, confrontation and mutual criticism. The presence of God’s Spirit was sensed. Many participants stressed after the meetings that they had experienced a strengthening in their faith. At the same time, it was pointed out that the lack of dialogue, listening to each other and openness to God’s Spirit in the community makes the Church become a soulless institution, solving its own problems only “humanly.” Meetings were organized in such a way as to allow for authenticity. In one diocese, where work was done primarily through the method of small team meetings (groups of 12), it was assumed that only lay people would be involved in synod meetings at the parish level. This was a deliberate move to make it easier for people who might feel uncomfortable with the presence of priests to open up. Priests, in turn, were included in their respective synodal teams working in parallel, so that in such a group – together with other priests – they could dialogue, using the same questions and thus preparing to enter into dialogue with parishioners after the cycle of four meetings. This conscious strategy shows not only that they were aware of the typical communication obstacles, but also that the synod was taken seriously and involved different expectations. In contrast, other places emphasized the value of the laity/parishioners meeting together with their pastors (primarily the pastor). They pointed out the uniqueness of such a form of building ties with and in the Church, and that the synod was a very valuable experience.
Despite sometimes opposing opinions, participants in the synodal groups appreciated the opportunity to meet, beginning and ending with prayer, and to talk freely. The meetings were permeated by a sensitivity to each other, without disputes or quarrels, and at the same time an awareness of the differences that divide the participants. “[Spotkanie] showed us what we know about each other and whether we can share and listen to it. It brought out our fears of trusting God and each other completely. This experience shows us the importance of community discernment”; “There was an atmosphere of true unity despite differences; all members were united by a desire to do good for the Church (sometimes understood differently, but always with respect for the views of others). After the meeting, many people were still talking about various topics. As the coordinator of the group, I can write that we felt the work of the Holy Spirit among us.” The synod argued that meeting without haste, when there is time to listen to each other, bears fruit.
Synthesis of responses from synodal work in the Archdiocese of Bialystok
Synodal work in the Archdiocese of Bialystok lasted from October 17, 2021 to June 30, 2022. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Bialystok appointed a synodal team in charge of the work, which included two lay people and two clergymen. In most parishes, 116 out of 98, coordinators (50 women, 26 men and 22 priests) were appointed to organize synod meetings and consultations and to disseminate the ideas of the ongoing synod. At the beginning of the synodal proceedings, an extensive consultation process was proposed at the parish level to all lay faithful, with the participation of diverse formal and informal community groups, with the involvement of local clergy and religious. Synodal meetings in parishes were held with the involvement of numerous lay people. In addition to parish meetings, there were diocesan-wide meetings (3 in number), as well as within the communities operating in the diocese, as well as talks within families. Individuals could use the synodal questionnaire available on the website of the Bialystok Archdiocese.
It should be noted that due to the initial low interest in the Synod, related to the unreadable presentation of synodal issues in the nationwide questionnaire, in order to understand them more deeply the survey questions, without changing the substance of the issues, were rewritten and distributed in the form of a follow-up survey in parishes and communities, which translated into greater participation of individual respondents and discussion groups in the synodal work. The questions were worked through by a parish group.
Masses were celebrated in some parishes. inaugurating the synodal work during which homilies related to the Church’s synodality issues were preached. The first meetings were prompted by the need to explain the essence of the synod. During the meetings that followed, accompanied by a spirit of prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and meditation on the Word of God, lively discussions took place related to the current situation in both the universal and local Church.
The meetings at the diocesan level were attended by both the Metropolitan of Bialystok and the Auxiliary Bishop. The bishops appreciated the commitment of the faithful and inspired efforts to build up the community of the Church through common prayer, but also expressed the need for responsible and caring relationships of the faithful among themselves as well as with clergy and religious. The Metropolitan Archbishop stressed the important role of existing parish councils and communities, but also encouraged not to forget the need for dialogue with the religiously indifferent, excluded or marginalized, who should be surrounded by pastoral care. The auxiliary bishop drew attention to the spirit of deepened community prayer and ordinary human kindness toward one another in parishes.
The faithful approached the meetings, which were held in an atmosphere of listening to each other, with enthusiasm but also concern. They all began and ended with a community prayer. In many cases, especially in parishes, the synodal meetings provided an opportunity to speak out and have an official voice in Church affairs. It should be said that in many parishes the participants were the faithful, who are always dynamic in the community. In a few, it was also possible to invite those who often acted as distant observers of parish life. Adults and young people inactive in the life of the Church were the hardest to reach. Religious lessons in schools and other informal meetings were used to convey synodal content. In general, it can be said that most of the faithful took an active part in the synodal work but about 45% took no interest in the synod.
The diocesan-wide synodal questionnaire was answered by approx. 0.4% of the faithful although fewer responses were floated. This was dictated by the fact that syntheses were organized at the parish level by those responsible for synodal work. They showed great commitment and sincere concern for the Church.
The fruits of these meetings were, in addition to discussions that allowed the faithful to express their own testimony and were also a contribution to the exchange of views, conclusions corresponding to particular synodal issues. This is not an interpretation, but a selection of responses from among the many that flowed in the surveys completed by email and paper.
“Synodality represents hope for the Church in many dimensions. It is a certain necessity these days. It is necessary to care for its continuance while respecting fidelity to the teachings and traditions of the faith,” reads one of the conclusions found in the synodal synthesis prepared by the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec. The summary stressed that the most important novelty for all synodal participants was “learning together how to talk and discuss the Church, how to touch fundamental questions of faith, but also how to describe ordinary human experience.”
“It’s about learning together to listen to the Holy Spirit, to be open to His action in seemingly mundane situations. Valuable was the prayerful dimension of this experience based on cooperation and listening to each other,” it said, pointing to the positive effect of the synodal experience of “renewing a sense of community and communion and discovering the missionary nature of the local Church, for which greater synodality is a challenge and a task, sometimes a chance for survival.”
The Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec, following Pope Francis’ call for a Synod on Synodality, began the Synod on October 17, 2021. with a solemn Mass. In the Bielsko Cathedral under the presidency of Bishop Roman Pindel. The faithful were informed about the synodal documents and the planned process. The bishop appointed a synodal team, which included the following contacts: diocesan synodal coordinator Fr. Ph. Robert Samsel and his deputies – Dr. Joanna Czyż-Cieciak and Robert Karp. In late November and early December, consultations were held with more than 200 lay people responsible for organizing synodal groups in their parish communities.
Each parish has received a special package of issues and topics related to the Synod that has begun. The discussions were based on the ten issues identified in the Synodal Vademecum. At the same time, pastors and coordinators have planned group sessions, encouraging parishioners to join the Spirit-led trek. There was a particularly strong emphasis on including all voices so that no one is left out and everyone is heard.
About two hundred parishes in the Bielsko-Żywiec diocese participated in the synodal process. The result of this experience was the submitted proposals, collected by parish coordinators. Individual responses via email and letters from individuals also came.
For the past 18 years, synodality experiences have been accumulated in the Diocese of Bydgoszcz and are continuously deepened. Bishop Krzysztof Wlodarczyk intensified the Pastoral Plan of the Diocese of Bydgoszcz by appointing appropriate bodies, advisory groups, individuals and thus began the process of renewing the pastoral structure. One of the indirect effects of the synodal activities is the initiation of systematic reflection on the essence of the Church and pastoral praxeology. The synodal meetings highlighted the need to lean into the practice in the perspective of a succinct formula that encapsulates the code of pastoral vision and the need to develop it non-stop: Jesus Christ renews us and the world. The Church of Bydgoszcz is a young, welcoming and supportive community of faith that lives the Eucharist. We confess that it is only in Jesus Christ that God gives us salvation, and therefore we take up three great challenges for today and tomorrow: (1) to love God for His sake, (2) to live a life of belonging as disciples and discipleship (3) to undertake missionary tasks.
From this perspective, “strategic directions” emerged – a basic vision aimed at recognizing pastoral challenges (ad intra and ad extra) and proportionate responses (pastoral synergy, implosion).
Based on consultations and feedback, Bishop Christopher Wlodarczyk initiated the Synodal Way in Bydgoszcz in the fall of 2020. One of the working groups has been working on local church issues and has so far established more than a dozen discussion forums. Here, the dignity and importance of all the baptized in the work of responsibly developing and shaping the Church is emphasized again and again. Women and men from various councils, associations, as well as individual believers are committed to exchanging views with pastors. Reading the signs of the times in harmony with the Church’s teachings, they jointly seek ways to renew and put current problems in order. The main goal is to be and remain the Church – a community close to God and close to man.
The Synodal Way Working Group of the Diocese of Bydgoszcz has developed a catalog of questions on the synodal themes of communion, participation and mission. It has been posted on the diocesan website. From November to the end of March 2021. groups, parishes, associations and individuals were able to directly and anonymously answer questions and share their insights. Several hundred responses give a good insight into how differently the Church is perceived (quantitative and quantitative survey). The synodal work and the joint prayer discernment revealed major differences in the understanding of basic concepts and experiences regarding fundamental ecclesial issues. The repetitions and parallels show that certain assessments thread through as a common denominator, through the responses and emphasize their often emotional coloring. The dynamics and ambivalence of the various statements permeate each other, pointing to the constant need to explore and seek answers to the question: what is the Church? Therefore, we must look for new ways to avoid the mistakes of the past and regain our credibility. We want to participate in this process consciously – both in the local Church and in the universal Church.
The process of synodal work in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa began with the liturgical inauguration of the Synod at the Czestochowa Archcathedral. The ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Waclaw Depo, Metropolitan of Częstochowa. On that day, the Team for the Development of the Company was established. Synod in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa. The team was tasked with coordinating the work in the archdiocese. It was composed of 10 people – five clergy and five laity, including the auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, the director of the pastoral department, a youth pastor, a parish priest, a religious sister, lay representatives of movements, communities, Caritas works, diocesan media and a youth representative. The team held more than a dozen working meetings.
The process of synodal meetings included diocesan clergy, persons of consecrated life and lay faithful. Synodal meetings for priests were held in each of the 36 deaneries, and the superiors of women’s religious houses held synodal meetings and workshops. At the diocesan level, three diocesan-wide synodal meetings of synodal lay animators were held. Synodal meetings were held in parishes, communities, movements and church institutions, among others. At the Higher Theological Seminary and the Higher Theological Institute. The synodal process was reported and popularized in the media: Catholic Weekly “Sunday”, Radio “Fiat” and “Jasna Góra”. A questionnaire prepared by members of the coordinating team and distributed thanks to the weekly “Sunday” went to all parishes and communities. More than one and a half thousand people responded to the survey. One open meeting was also organized at the “Heaven in the City” cafe, to which people not affiliated with parishes or Catholic movements were invited.
From the very beginning of the synodal process in the archdiocese, a certain group of people could be seen distrusting the process. In some, it stemmed from negative attitudes, related to information about the dangers of the synodal road taking place in Germany. The synodal process in the Church has sometimes begun to be equated with a desire to copy German actions. In others, it was the fear of arousing wishful and demanding attitudes of the faithful toward the Church, without constructive solutions, without a spirit of prayer and commitment to the life of the Church. Part of the concern was also about possible demands for changes in Church doctrine or discipline. There were also claims that the synod would not change anything anyway, that it would only become a transient and fruitless action of a sociological rather than spiritual and ecclesial nature.
In the course of the synodal work in the Archdiocese of Częstochowa, many positive experiences have manifested themselves. Among the most important of these are:
- An opportunity to pray together for the intentions of the Church and spiritually feel communion in the Church,
- To awaken a common concern for the Church and engage in a common intention and frank conversation about spirituality, pastoral care, administration and finances,
- The great involvement of lay people from parishes and communities, as was evidenced by their presence and activity at diocesan-wide meetings. Even people from parishes with little pastoral activity and outside organized communities participated,
- Small group meetings at parishes and priestly synodal meetings in the deaneries, which were a discovery of the need for such meetings in the normal course of the Church’s activities,
- Recognizing the current situation of pastoral care in the archdiocese and in individual communities, frankly confronting problems and successes.
- Exchange of experiences and points of view on church realities by clergy and laity
- Reaching out to parishes and communities with synod surveys, media coverage of the synod, which resulted in a wide representation of people both by age, education, profession and involvement in the Church participating in the survey votes,
- A very frequent demand and exhortation to be faithful to and preserve Church doctrine, and an almost complete absence on the part of participants in the synodal process of a desire to change the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching.
During the conduct of the synodal work in the archdiocese, many of the goals set at the beginning were also not achieved. Here are some of them:
- Only a portion of the parishes in the archdiocese participated in the synodal work, and many parishes did not join in the work, did not hold meetings and did not send a synodal synthesis. It is estimated that about 30% of the parishes joined the synod to a greater or lesser extent,
- The synod meetings and discussions have not reached the youth circles enough, especially in school catechesis.
- To a very limited extent during the synodal work, we reached out to the world of the poor and needy. During the synodal work, we only listened to reports on the activities of “Caritas of the Archdiocese of Czestochowa” and on the assistance of war refugees from Ukraine
- Despite the opportunities created to meet and have a say through surveys and social media in the synodal work, very symbolically and even individually, people outside the Church and not involved in any Church communities had a voice. Of the one and a half thousand completed questionnaires, only a dozen people admitted that they were “rather non-believers.”
This diocesan synodal synthesis has been compiled on the basis of conclusions, syntheses, opinions, experiences of individual parish communities, groups, movements, associations, people of good will, who wished to lean into the synodal themes, meditate on them and share them in the community. As recommended, it consists of two parts. The first is, as it were, a story about the synod experience, expressed through the mouths of diocesans. It includes direct quotes noted during various synod meetings. The second part, a more analytical part, contains the main lines of thinking shared by all the groups involved in the synodal process. The synthesis does not include statistical data, which were sent in a separate survey.
Information about the Synod and its novel form brought some stir and even confusion among both clergy and laity. There were doubts in our hearts about the meaning and significance of the proposed form. We even thought about the slogan, symbols, synodal signs, as well as synodal themes. In many cases, we approached them quite skeptically and critically. The method itself, not fully specified, caused resistance to synodal tasks.
The term “synodal church” is unclear. All affirm faith in the “one, holy, universal and apostolic Church.” The addition of a new attribute of the Church, and one that is theologically unspecified, may rightly cause some concern. Until now, synod has been a well-known method of resolving issues in the Church, and attempting to write a method into the nature of the Church may raise legitimate concerns.
Resistance has subsided over time.
Together we decided that instead of wasting time talking about the synod, we would take synodal action.
Despite the remarks, in obedience to our shepherd, we went through the various issues and shared our thoughts on them, although the specific questions were worded abstrusely and in a way that was hardly understood by ordinary church members, who make up the majority of the community.
In the overwhelming number of cases, the obstacles that occurred passed when we experienced the first meeting. Reflecting on the problems posed opened our hearts and consciences. As a result, we were eager to share our experience of faith, lived both personally and in the family and parish community, as well as in Catholic movements, groups, communities and associations. We also managed to invite brothers and sisters from the Protestant church.
The meeting brought much hope to the hearts of those gathered and stirred up even greater concern for the community of the Church, for deeper and authentic relationships in our lives and the desire to become true witnesses anew to life with Christ, for Christ and in Christ.
All human life is a pilgrimage through the earth, a journey during which we meet many people. Some for a while (a fellow passenger on a train, an expeditor in a store). With others we wander for many years (family, schoolmates, workmates). Man needs other people, he needs a community, although sometimes he fears that the community will absorb him, kill his individuality.
The community is made up of both zealous believers and doubters and even non-believers, because faith is a process happening inside each person.
Travel companions are people who help us discover the face of the true God.
The Lord God often speaks to us through fellow travelers on our journey. Through their words, but also through the testimony of their lives. The presence of other people allows us to look at our lives from a different perspective. It is also important to notice others, to know their needs, views, talents, and when it is necessary to help – to find the right way to do it effectively and with respect for human dignity.
Unfortunately, today it happens all too often that we lack involvement in the community, that we do not notice other people, and we choose the Internet as our companion on the road, or another form of solitude that gives the appearance of being in the community.
Listening is, or at least should be, an important part of human life. The Scriptures show us the tenderness of “God’s ear”, Jesus even among the crowd around him is able to pick out a cry for help. We, while listening, do not always hear. Everything flows down on us without leaving a trace. Even the voice of God we can drown out.
It is important to listen to God’s voice in one’s own soul, but it is also important to listen with openness to others, even outside the Christian community, because it is possible to miss a voice that can make a big difference to ourselves and the entire community. However, modern man rather wants to “puzzle” others. He is convinced of the validity of his views and sees no need to correct them under the arguments of other people, even in light of the Gospel.
Listening is hindered by modern secular trends, media hype associated with many areas of life, which gives a lot of false information. It is not clear who to listen to, as we are seeing the collapse of authority figures.
There are many things we would like to talk about, but we do not always have the courage to speak in front of others. We are limited by many things: self-love, fear of being blamed, ignorance, low self-esteem, fear of making someone uncomfortable, or lack of confidence that I am the right person to speak on an issue.
Taking the floor is mainly hampered by stress, stage fright and a lack of full confidence in being understood, and there are often negative or even malicious comments from those listening.
Often we have the impression that priests only listen to those who are easy to listen to, who are fine with everything and agree to everything.
On the other hand, we are able to talk for hours about trivial matters, meaningless, unnecessary to anyone, without thinking whether we are accidentally wasting our time. Today we often remain silent, because we value the proverbial “holy peace” more than the truth.
It is necessary to talk to people outside the Church. This is an important task for the entire community. When dealing with differently-minded, marginalized people, all sorts of common humanitarian actions are important, because common goals bring people together a lot.
We celebrate various events in our lives: baptism, wedding, funeral, first communion, confirmation. The celebration is first and foremost every Mass as a manifestation of the worship of God. The liturgy is the property of the Church, and as individuals we have no right to change anything in it. Any outlier behavior can be a cause of distraction, distracting others from what is happening at the altar.
I sometimes have the impression that I and the priest standing at the altar live in different worlds, on different planes, and therefore we often do not understand each other.
The faithful expect the pastor to follow liturgical norms. Departing from them pushes the faithful away from the liturgy.
Priests can and should preach catechesis to people about experiencing the Mass, for a better understanding of the principles of Christian life.
Well-lived Eucharist is a strengthening for us, allows us to live life with joy, despite the inconveniences, problems, longings, tribulations that constantly appear. God is the cure for all ailments, but one must take Him, like medicine, regularly and with faith in the good effect, and “according to the doctor’s prescription.” Disorder distances one from God rather than brings one closer to Him. A well-prepared liturgy attracts people even from outside the Church.
A beautiful experience of the liturgy shows a certain order and harmony.
We often forget what the Eucharist is and Who we meet there. We come out of habit or for tradition. What is constantly needed is the witness of the lives of people who, believing in the living presence of Jesus Christ, live and feed on this truth.
The Eucharist can become the center of life when there is greater awareness of the presence of Christ, who helps in normal life, giving strength and power.
Each of us Catholics, along with the sacrament of baptism, has been called to proclaim the faith. The fields of this activity are different. Some preach the Gospel in distant countries, others seek to restore faith where it is dying out. One can be a missionary for one’s own family, friends or the environment in which one lives.
Areas of mission in the family are neglected due to lack of patience, time and discouragement caused by the demoralizing influence of the media and fashions, especially on young people.
It is difficult to look for ways and opportunities to reach intimacy with Jesus and attract others. In pursuing the missionary vocation, we have become lazy and it is enough for us to go in the right direction ourselves.
The apostolate of the sick and people addicted by addictions is neglected. There is a lack of Christian witness in life, working in groups with children and young people.
But is this the right direction if we do not care about the fate of our neighbors, if we do not care about their salvation? It’s easier for us to support missionaries with prayer or donations than to be a witness of faith to the people walking by. There we get away with being do-gooders, while here we are called whiners and grumblers. The world constantly says: don’t interfere in other people’s affairs, while God says: set your mind at the right time and out of time.
In an era of rampant atheization, an effort and a break with spiritual laziness is needed to save the faith in oneself and in others. The world today needs witnesses to the faith and not actors pretending to be believers. If he resents Christians, it is not because they are Christians, but because they are far too few. Therefore, the attitude of believers, correct relations between family members, other members of the church community, mutual spiritual and material assistance, shaking hands with people experiencing various types of crises is important.
Sometimes I think that everything, if it is to be done well, must be done by me personally. Over time, I see that the fruits are greater with joint action.
The problem is “pushing down” – we don’t want to demand from ourselves, we just put the responsibility on others.
Dialogue, or conversation between two equal partners, is essential in any community. This is an effective way to resolve any conflicts, misunderstandings, difficulties. However, dialogue presupposes the openness of each side to the arguments of the opposing side. There is no dialogue where one side assumes in advance that the opponent is stupid and has nothing to say.
Christ dialogues with different people: the Apostles, the Pharisees or ordinary people. When necessary, he pointed out mistakes and even chastised with harsh words, but he did not disparage anyone. This is the right way to respect others, recognizing their capabilities and limitations, try to resolve any divisions, conflicts through dialogue and use the force of argument rather than the argument of force.
The church is us. We are participants in the world of politics, economics, culture, etc. Therefore, there should be no disjunction between confessing God in the Church and in social or economic life. Jesus is the Lord everywhere.
The first cause of the division of Christians into different denominations is sin. Christ called for unity and prayed to the Father, asking “that they may be one.” However, while opening up to dialogue with other Christian denominations, we must not forget our own identity.
In our surroundings – within the Diocese of Drohiczyn – we meet Christians of other faiths, especially Orthodox Christians. Protestant denominations are also present. In many cases, there are people who, perhaps out of lack of knowledge or recklessness, are reluctant to enter into a relationship with these people.
In every part of the meeting, the unity and desire for a living faith, the search for a common path to God, was readily apparent. Unity, despite dogmatic differences and with respect for dissent, appeared to be a natural and necessary step to be taken together. We were looking for answers to questions about the future. The prevailing conviction was that cooperation, rapprochement, joint missionary work, can be much easier and fruitful when we start taking small first steps together. It seems that the first actions should be joint prayers held regularly.
Power is to serve another human being. To wield power is to walk the path of humiliation and the cross, and in this is expressed the true greatness of man.
A superior should serve, as Christ as High Priest was a servant. Service should manifest itself in respect for another human being, not in treating a subordinate as a pawn in the game.
Hierarchy comes from God’s law therefore it cannot be flattened so that everyone is heard and everyone is right. The Hierarchy should do better and serve the whole Church.
Today we tend to associate power with the pursuit of our own well-being. Everyone would like to rule over others, no one wants to be a servant. We criticize our parents, superiors or rulers for their decisions because in our imaginations we would be smarter. Unfortunately, this criticism and at most “good advice” to others is often our only contribution to the work of the community whether local or national.
Jesus, departing to the Father, said: “I will not leave you orphans.” He fulfilled His promise by sending the Holy Spirit, who enlightens the path of His disciples through the ages. Modern man is focused on his own ego. When making decisions, he weighs what is more advantageous to him, overestimates his intellect, and increasingly rarely asks the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. He also often doesn’t listen to others because he is convinced of the rightness of his thoughts. Jet is a clear sign of human pride, which destroys unity among people and kills the spirit.
A Christian looks at his own affairs in the light of the Gospel and also weighs the voice of his neighbors, for it is not uncommon for the Holy Spirit to speak through them. It is good for prayer to the Holy Spirit for discernment to be a constant practice and a tool in discovering the will of God, especially in the difficult times in which we live, when the Church is constantly under attack in various ways.
The apostles dispersed after Christ’s death, each returning to his former life. After the resurrection, their condition was still not the best. Only the Holy Spirit descending upon them strengthened them and made them effective instruments in building up Christ’s Church.
In us there is still not enough commitment to the community. Everyone lives in their own world. Even when we meet, we fail to open up, listen poorly, are afraid to speak or simply don’t want to express ourselves, Because and why? What will others think of me? Why should I go out of my way? It doesn’t make any sense.
We are supposed to feel a sense of community. For this you need understanding, opening up, accepting the other person as he is. Extremely important here is the use of various charisms. Every person has the right to his or her views and to express them in the community.
The world is trying to separate us, to divide us, and there is still not enough will in us to oppose it. We need constant formation, constant immersion in the truths of the faith, pondering the Holy Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, learning about the documents of the Church, the Catholic press, learning about the figures of saints and blessed who are living examples of life in community with Christ.
The synodal path, as it were, compels us to surrender fully to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to become instruments in building up the community of the Church.
The Bishop of Elbląg appointed two co-coordinators: Sr. Dr. Miriam Bilska CSSJ, Fr. Dr. Piotr Towarek, and Michalina Rozbicka (a student of media communication) for cooperation. The bishop appealed to the faithful to participate and speak out as part of the synod in a pastoral letter that was read in the churches of the diocese on Sunday, January 30, 2022. An electronic version of the letter was also posted on the diocese’s official website and Facebook profile. In order to facilitate statements in groups and individually, the diocesan synod center has prepared a set of guiding questions (based on indications from the synod’s Vademecum). On February 8, 2022, the Bishop of Elblag issued instructions on how to convene and conduct synodal meetings. The bishop asked for synodal votes from the diocesan bodies: the priests’ council, the pastoral council and the cathedral chapter. He made a similar request to parish pastoral councils and organizations, associations, movements and communities operating in the diocese.
The following groups and individuals responded to the call for notice:
- Priests’ Council of the Diocese of Elbląg (25 people)
- Pastoral Council of the Diocese of Elbląg (30 people)
- 18 parishes: 200 people (members: parish pastoral council, synodal groups).
- Communities and groups within the diocese: Civitas Christiana association (8), Center for New Evangelization DE (10), New Evangelization to God the Spirit Guilty (10), Catechists of the Diocese of Elbląg (30), Domowy Kościół DE (270), Men of God (20), Neocatechumenate Iława Oblaci (60), Renewal in the Holy Spirit (375 people, 25 groups in parishes, eventually a group of leaders – 35 people), Betania community in Elblag-Stagniewo (30 people), Transfiguration community at Corpus Christi church in Elblag (50), Bible circles (two of 15 people each = 30), Margaretka communities (14), Married couples community of Brata Alberta parish Elblag (30), Living Rosary Elblag cathedral (130) + Living Rosary zelators from the diocese (7 people), Householders of God from Jeglownik parish (20).
- Schoolchildren: class II High School of the Piarist Fathers Elbląg (25), SP 11 Elbląg (20)
- Iława Prison (15)
- Supporters of the Tridentine Mass (4 surveys, petitions)
- Communion advocates. mouth and kneeling only (20)
- Individual statements (33 people)
- Individual forms of consecrated life: virgin (1), hermit (1)
- Baptist Church in Elblag
- NUMBER OF PEOPLE PARTICIPATING: 1400, at the parish level 1080, through the contact box (diocese website) 122.
Responses to the synodal survey were prepared primarily by parishes in urban centers (e.g., Elblag, Morag, Ilawa), as well as in other localities (e.g., Biskupiec Pomorski, Jegłownik, Stegna, Stary Dzierzgoń, Tujsk, Kmiecin, Stara Kościelnica). Catholic movements, associations, communities, a Catholic school, and prison inmates also commented on the survey.
In surveys that reached the synod secretariat, the laity spoke very often negatively about priests. However, surveys from priests regarding their relationship with the laity have not surfaced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We inaugurated the synodal consultation process in the Archdiocese of Gdansk on October 23, 2021, a weeḱ later than in the universal Church. The delay was caused by the absence of the bishops, who are on an ad limina visit to Rome. The synod, which included people affiliated with the Catholic Church and the so-called “Catholic Church,” is also a part of the Synod. peryferii, took the form of consultations – the discussion was conducted during synod meetings and through survey responses. The synodal consultations dealt with the Church’s vision and evaluation of its activities in the areas of sacramental, evangelization, caritas and missionary ministry, and took placę at the parish level, in apostolic communities, religious congregations, among the homeless, non-heteronormative and non-believers. At the parish consultation level, the organization of the Synod was handled by persons appointed by pastors or community superiors to liaise between the diocese and the parish (community). Synodal reports from parishes and communities were arriving by May 15, 2022 – this was the source material for the Diocesan Synodal Team, which began organized, systematic work in 7 editorial teams. They dealt with gathering relevant issues, aspects, voices, opinions, recommendations and proposals.
Each of the editorial teams familiarized themselves̨ with the part of the source material previously planned for them (the total counted 83 reports, which reached diocesan coordinators by the deadline), as well as 21 reports (reached by June 10, 2022). The synodal synthesis is the result of compiling notes from synodal meetings in parishes and communities. The issues are organized by 28 questions:
- What delights us about the Church?
- With whom are we willing to share our experience of God in the Church?
- Thanks to the Synod, who did we see as a companion on the road?
- What extinguishes faith̨ in the Church?
- What, in our opinion, does the Holy Spirit want from the Church today?
- What is the biggest difficulty in the Church today?
- Who finds it difficult to find́ themselves in the Church?
- What causes people to leave the Church?
- What can we do so that those who have moved away from the Church will return to it?
- What valuable contributions do people with non-Catholic views bring to Church members?
- How can every baptized person preach the Gospel to them?
- How do we evaluate in the Church the level of sincerity in the exchange of views, dialogue, criticism, etc.?
- How do we evaluate the level and message of evangelization of Catholic media?
- How do we evaluate opportunities for free speech in the Church?
- What influences the deep experience of the Mass? What are the difficulties?
- How do we enable everyone to experience the liturgy and community prayers more fully?
- What qualities of priests do we value and what qualities do we disapprove of?
- How do we evaluate the contact with the priests of our parish?
- How does lay involvement in liturgical ministry look in our community?
- What do we value in the climate of our parish? What makes it difficult for us to belong to this community?
- What are the laity committed to in the parish community? Are they realistically co-responsible?
- What missionary (local), cultural, educational activities does our parish carry out?
- How can we develop cooperation between the laity and priests so that both feel responsible for the Church?
- Is there a Parish Council in our parish? How do we evaluate its performance?
- What influence do we have in discerning and planning pastoral tasks?
- What joint activities between parishes and communities do I see?
- How can we learn synodality and shared responsibility for the Church?
- Is there anything else you would like to share?
Synodal teams answered questions of their choice. The diocesan team has developed the first version of a detailed diocesan synthesis. The Archdiocesan Presynodal Meeting, at which the contents of the diocesan synthesis were presented and discussed, was held on June 14, 2022. Present at the meeting were Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda, pastors, people of consecrated life and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Gdansk.
After the presynodal meeting, the final version of the document was produced. It takes into account the comments made directly at the presynodal meeting and after it (via email), as well as those of the Diocesan Team that created the synthesis.
A recurring difficulty was the adoption of a certain novelty of the synodal method. Numerous communities, despite their goodwill, failed to grasp the style of the process and treated the Synod as reporting on the state of the Church. In the later sections of the diocesan stage, the syntheses tended to focus more on the specific problems of the communities concerned than on describing the synodal path itself.
Synod coordinators have been appointed in parishes and communities. Information about the Synod’s ongoing work was communicated through parish announcements, websites and parish groups included in the work plan. Unfortunately, many pastors did not make enough effort to learn what synodality is all about, hence the announcements were laconic and as if “out of obligation.” To carry out consultations with communities in the so-called “community. Periphery missionary sisters from the “Servants of the Gospel” congregation and the community affiliated with the Congress of Catholic Women and Catholics came forward.
Interest in the Synod was low, with individual synod groups averaging about a dozen people. The Diocesan Team received 104 syntheses (there are 201 parishes in the archdiocese, not counting communities). Very often, daily practitioners, when asked about participation in the Synod, answered that “they are fine with everything in the Church” and do not see the need to meet, some manifested a view reluctant to change the Church in Rome, indignation was also shown, quantifying the matter with the words: “I will not lecture the Pope.” This attitude was probably the result of under-information, showed a lack of need for shared responsibility for one’s parish, and had external conditions – it was influenced by media coverage, in which the Synod on Synodality was chalked up as a reform of the Church. A lot of fuss has been made about the synodal road in Germany and the controversy surrounding it.
A special feature of the synodal meetings was that hardly any young people participated.
At the diocesan level, three meetings were held to introduce coordinators to the synodal work. The diocesan website <https://www.diecezja.gda.pl/artykuly/synod/wszystkie> presented synod documents, supporting materials and current information on events related to the Synod. The contacts made videos explaining the meaning of the Synod and discussing the various stages of the Synod.
The presentation of the detailed synthesis at the presynodal meeting focused on the negative features of the experience of intra-church relations. The topic diverged from the description of the experience of synodal meetings and dealt with specific problems (which was not the intention of the Synod on synodality). In the discussion, there was a clear suggestion to pay attention to the positive sides. It was difficult to convince the participants that the synthesis was the result of the collected material, which is not meant to be a comprehensive view of the diocesan Church, but to represent the opinions of the Synod participants. This confrontation has attracted the attention of pastors and residents of the diocese, hitherto indifferent or reluctant to synodal activities. This gave rise to the initiative to renew and develop synodal activities in the diocese – which was read as the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The opening ceremony of the synod took place on October 17, 2021, at the Archcathedral Basilica in Gniezno. The Mass was presided over and the homily delivered by Archbishop Wojciech Polak, Metropolitan of Gniezno, Primate of Poland. Representatives of pastoral councils from the archdiocese’s deaneries attended the inauguration. The Mass was followed by the first synodal meeting at the Primate’s Major Seminary in Gniezno. Its purpose was to familiarize the public with the idea of the synod and with the various stages of the synod, in particular how the diocesan stage is conducted in the Archdiocese. Another synodal meeting was the meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. It was held on October 22, 2021 in Gniezno. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council constituted the diocesan synodal team. The meeting was attended by Rev. prof. Paul Zulehner, who delivered a paper on the synodality of the Church and the essence of the current Synod. The Diocesan Synodal Team has adopted a plan to carry out synodal work and various forms of synodal meetings. The diocesan secretariat of the synod prepared and presented a synodal survey, which was posted on the website. Meetings for dean priests and district meetings for priests were held in October and November. During these meetings, the participants were introduced to the idea of the synod, how it is being held and how it is being organized in the Archdiocese. In December 2021, a publication with materials for conducting synod meetings was issued.
Synodal meetings were held from December 2021 to May 2022. The consultations were held in approx. 320 groups (in various parish groups, in deanery groups, in apostolic movements, groups and associations, in religious and inter religious communities, in the seminary, in the Theological-Pastoral Study, in a home for senior citizens, in a single mother’s home, among the homeless, in the home of retired priests, in youth groups, in meetings for school catechists and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion). The number of participants in the meetings is estimated at about. 3500. Syntheses total: 216 (145 parish, 16 decanal, 14 youth groups, 14 movements of groups and associations, 6 religious sisters, 2 clerics, 2 seniors, 2 individual, 1 from outside the diocese, 8 catechists, 4 stewards, 1 homeless and 1 from the Home for Single Mothers). The online survey had 478 participants (45.2% women and 54.8 men, average age – 34 years). The syntheses sent to the secretariat and the results of the surveys were used to prepare a working draft of the diocesan synthesis by the working group of the Diocesan Synodal Team.
It was presented at the meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council on May 9, 2022. After further consultations, a draft synthesis was drawn up and adopted at the diocesan presynodal meeting held on June 12, 2022. At the Archcathedral Basilica in Gniezno and at the Educational and Formation Center.
This synthesis has been prepared according to the guidelines contained in the Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality. The official manual for listening and discernment in local churches: phase one (October 2021 – August 2022). Appendix D. It will be presented in four sections:
- Consultation process
- Areas in need of healing and conversion in the parish and diocese
- How the Spirit invites the Church to grow in synodality so that the diocese and parishes become more synodal
- What cultural images express our experience of synodality
The wide-ranging consultation process initiated to gather the wealth of synodality is a situation that many participants encountered for the first time. For this reason, they were accompanied by both fears, anxieties and hopes, among which can be distinguished:
An attitude of surprise and gratitude for creating space and giving opportunities to speak out in the Church, especially to the secular. An attitude of fear of taking the synodal road associated with, for example, the “German road.” An attitude of disbelief about what ordinary parishioners can say about the Church, whether their voice will be heard at all, and whether it will have a real impact on changes in the parish and the Church.
18.104.22.168 Strengths of the consultation
The first fruit of the consultation was the meeting itself, which often brought together people presenting different groups/communities and having different experiences of the Church. The synodal meetings, although they stirred up emotions and concerns, became a very positive experience and gave space to speak and listen. They stressed that many problems stem from a lack of communication, and at the same time asked that such meetings be held regularly. The participants themselves stressed that they were hopeful about the synodal style of parish leadership. The gift of coming together after the difficult time of the pandemic was appreciated. In some places, the announcement of synod meetings was a mobilization to break down the barrier created by the time of isolation. In one parish, where 130 participants were involved in the Synod’s work, the meetings lasted many hours and yet left a paucity of sharing. Also, groups of extraordinary stewards and groups of school catechists held synodal consultations gathering significant numbers of participants. Diversity of groups, not limiting the number of participants and duration of meetings are also strengths of the consultation. Many people stressed that they had never had the opportunity to comment on the Church or pastoral care in their parish. A good part of the process was the information about the synodal meetings held on the archdiocesan website
22.214.171.124 Weaknesses of the consultation
The start of the meetings during the pandemic caused some to fear contagion, and later the outbreak of war in Ukraine caused a decline in interest in the synod. However, a much more common reason was the lack of interest or even negation of the very idea of a synod by laymen and priests. It was also reported that in some parishes there was no information about the synod and such meetings did not take place. Another weakness was that the meetings were dominated by the pastor, who did not allow discussion of parish matters, he proposed to discuss only the Church in general. In some places There was also no opportunity to voice one’s expectations and desires, the pastor did not allow an exchange of ideas. Many people stressed that their greatest difficulty was the stage fright before public speaking and their unfamiliarity with the Church’s problems.
126.96.36.199 Absent from the process
Despite plans and attempts to reach as wide an environment as possible, located on the periphery of the Church, the syntheses did not resound with the voice of, for example. homosexual or ecumenical circles. One reason is the social profile of the archdiocese. There are no metropolitan centers in its territory, where the aforementioned communities are much more represented.
- The analysis showed that dissenting remarks and comments generated the most excitement. Participants admitted that their beliefs and views make them unable to listen with empathy and attention, and they find it difficult to talk without judgment.
- The flashpoints were topics primarily related to media criticism of the Church (pedophilia, issues of parish finagling, politicking in the Church and lack of witness to the faith).
- Finding ways to attract back people who have left the Church or talking to non-believers proved to be a difficulty in conversations. Some treated the subject as a concern, others as meddling in the lives of others.
- A very different point was the perception of priests. Discussions ranged in the extreme from: how difficult it is to be a priest today in the face of widespread criticism and heckling, often the priest is left alone with this through a very negative view of the attitudes of priests to words of gratitude for the gift of being present and being there for the parish.
- Opinions also differed on the subject of formalizing the faith and religious practices of young people and children preparing to receive the sacraments, for example, by collecting signatures in booklets.
- The meetings made it possible to make a joint diagnosis of where things are
- Concern for the future of the Church was evident in all the syntheses.
- Syntheses have shown the paucity of dialogue in parishes and are even a cry for more
- The synod meetings significantly showed the hunger for testimonies showing the value of faith and the Gospel in people’s lives, as well as the request for a change of language in the Episcopal pastoral letters: there is too much instruction and theory in them, not enough sharing of faith.
- Significant were the voices regarding the relationship: priests – laity, which needs healing.
- Seniors, among others. pointed to the clergy’s sometimes apparent indifference to people on the margins of society, keeping their distance from issues and people on the periphery. In terms of helping elderly, ailing people, words of gratitude went to the young volunteers. However, the seniors themselves admit that the problem is sometimes on their part, because their pride does not allow them to ask for help.
- Valuable contributions were made by people from the periphery, especially the homeless.
- Lights: The big joy is that after difficult experiences (especially the pandemic), “normalcy” is returning to the daily life of the parish. The opportunity to enjoy the Holy Sacraments and the Eucharist is an invaluable gift. It is gratifying to see the activities of Caritas and the charitable actions undertaken, the care of pastors for temples and cemeteries. Homilies that explain God’s Word and encourage reflection and life improvement are very helpful. The faithful appreciate the lack of politicking in the homilies. It is gratifying to see the presence of various groups in parishes as well as well-developed websites or social media profiles. The role of evangelization communities, as well as parish initiatives and cultural actions undertaken, was appreciated. The faithful appreciate the priest’s openness and being with them. The beauty of the liturgy celebrated in Gniezno Cathedral during the ceremony was highlighted. The homeless expressed their gratitude to Kittitas for its concern for the excluded and not leaving them alone.
- Shadows: The list of shadows turned out to be long. It is the lack of stable relationships and humility in relations (between the parish priest and parishioners), the lack of quick responses from the Episcopate and one consistent voice from the bishops on important social issues, the apparent disconnect between the preached Word of God and the lifestyle of many clergy, the failure of priests to listen to and criticize the Pope or bishops in the presence of the faithful which weakens their faith, exaltation of the clergy as a higher class, many priests behave like business people rather than matters of faith, schematicity in pastoral activities, lack of flexibility and lack of knowledge of the lives of parishioners, clipping the wings of those wishing to act, saddened by the low transparency of the Church’s finances, low accessibility of the hierarchy and unaccounted for cases of abuse, lack of cooperation between parishes
All the syntheses emphasized the decline in priestly and religious vocations, the decrease in the number of practicing faithful especially children and youth. Pain is filled with publicized scandals and crimes involving priests. It is also saddening that in some parishes there are no youth ministry groups. Very discouraging is the low involvement of the faithful in the life of the parish, the declining number of those attending religious classes, the increasing number of divorces, problems finding godparents, and the lack of authority in the Church. It is observed that people limit themselves to sacramental life only, treating the church as a store, an institution . One has the impression that children and young people come to church and take the sacraments out of necessity or obligation (on the occasion of First Communion or Confirmation), after which they stop religious practices. Young people take the sacrament of confirmation in case they get married, witness at a wedding or be a godparent, get married or baptize children “because it’s the right thing todo.” The family is no longer a school of faith, lacking the example of parents in transmitting and strengthening the faith. People of consecrated life stressed that their work is not always respected, their knowledge and experience are very rarely used. Also saddening is the minimization of assistance to those on the margins of society. It was emphasized that it is easier to help those living farther away than those living right next door. Participants in the meetings believe that the low involvement in parish life is due to the decline in the Church’s authority resulting from scandals, min. harassment, the unavailability of priests and the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, including media coverage of sexual minority communities.
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:
- On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) – “Traveling Companions” (December);
- Encounter with the young man(Mark 10:17-37)- “Discernment and decision-making” (January);
- Meeting with Peter (John 21:15-19) – “Authority and Participation”(February);
- Meeting the Samaritan woman(John 4:6-42) – “Engaging in dialogue in the Church
- 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.”
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).
Together we set out to mutually, “meet, listen and discern.” The Church of God was called to Synod. The Church in the Katowice Archdiocese has also accepted the invitation to answer questions about his life and mission. The overarching goal of the Synod was to experience a meeting that gives space for exchanging experiences and reflecting on the Church. Walking together along the synodal path reveals the nature of the Church as a pilgrim community.
In the Katowice Archdiocese, 351 meetings were held at different levels and with different profiles. The diocesan stage of the Synod consisted of two parts. Part one included:
- meetings in decanal groups with representatives of each parish of the decanate – 35 meetings;
- meetings of priests serving in the various deaneries – 31 meetings;
- Meetings in profiled groups (within movements, communities and associations, religious congregations, as well as purposefully selected pastoral impact environments, e.g., students, youth, prisoners, socially excluded, poor and disabled people) – 135 meetings.
The second part was implemented at the parish level, where those interested in participating in the Synod could apply to their parish priests. These, along with parish coordinators – who had previously attended decanal meetings – held meetings for those interested. The number of such meetings at the parish level depended on the number of people willing and the needs of the participants. 150 meetings were held in 135 parishes.
The organizers of the synodal meetings were:
- At the level of the Katowice archdiocese:
- The team for the development of the company’s business. Coordination of synodal work: the Rev. Roman Chromy, Ph. Alexander Banka, ed. Dominika Szczawinska-Ziemba;
- Synod Secretariat: Barbara Cichorska, Kinga Ludwiczak;
- At the level of deaneries:
- Decanal coordinators – priests appointed by decree of the Metropolitan of Katowice;
- Deputy coordinators – lay people appointed by decanal coordinators;
- At the parish level:
- Members of parish pastoral councils, animators of parish communities and catechists.
The meetings were based on the Ignatian method of magis circles – a well-known and proven method of community discernment developed by the Jesuits. Each meeting began with a joint prayer, an introduction of the rules and the proceedings of the meeting. The participants then prepared to answer the following three questions during prayerful silence:
- How do I see the Catholic Church (parish, diocesan, local, community) today?
- What I consider a special value in this Church. and what is a particular weakness?
- How – to the best of our ability – can we overcome these identified weaknesses?
During the first round of responses, each participant expressed his or her opinion on. the above issues, referring to their experiences, experiences and feelings. A prayerful silence followed. In the next round, participants could refer to what they heard from other people and share what moved them the most. The subsequent prayerful silence was a time for individual preparation to answer the question of what touched the participants in a special way at that moment, what else they would like to share with others (thoughts, associations, images, emerging feelings). In the third round, only willing participants spoke. The meeting ended with a summary by the coordinator and a short prayer.
The proposed synodal questions were subsidiary, and the coordinator could give the group other questions more suited to its nature and needs, taking care, however, that they refer to the synodal documents: Vademecum of the Synod on Synodality (hereinafter: Vademecum) and the Preparatory Document of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops “Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”(hereinafter: Preparatory Document).
Participants in the meetings were reminded that the essence of the meetings is not to work out material to summarize, but to share the experience of the Church in a climate of kindness, respect and openness. The executive summary was a supplementary item, drafted by the coordinator for the use of the Team for the Development of the Company. coordination of synodal work.
The synodal synthesis is based on the Preparatory Document. It takes into account the nine issues identified in that document (IV, p. 30); indeed, participants in the synodal meetings did not refer to the issue of ecumenism.
The task given to us by Pope Francis to look at the common path was undertaken with responsibility and courage. To bring about an effective consultation process, a team had to be identified to coordinate the work in the diocese. The diocesan synodal council included clergy, laity and consecrated persons from various backgrounds. The team began its work by conducting a mutual listening session in-house.
The first observations led to the conviction that talking about the Church is much needed, that it responds to the deep desires of living the faith. Based on this sharing, questions were formulated that formed the starting point for the synodal consultation. The main question was who am I and how do I feel about the Church? What brings me the most joy and what makes me sad? What do I miss the most?
Each parish has been required to organize its own parish synodal team, so as to involve as many people as possible. It was the participation of laymen from these teams that was supposed to make it possible to reach the periphery. This was not an easy task, as people from the periphery of the Church were not too interested in participating in the synod.
The teams were tasked with preparing a synodal meeting in the parishes, which took the form of a real meeting. It was recommended that three such consultations be held, each preceded by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At the diocesan level, about 0.2% of the population participated in the synod. The participation of people who sincerely care about the welfare of the Church deserves special attention. To a large extent, these are people involved in parish activities, but not only. People not affiliated with any community or movement also came to the synod meetings.
The most significant thing about the entire consultation process was the fact that a space was created for a frank conversation about the Church and faith. Despite the functioning of church structures, pastoral groups, the opportunity to exchange ideas is actually very modest. The topic was brought up, prompting steps to meet and listen to each other. This led to the breaking of the previously existing stereotype that divided the Church between clergy and laity. An analysis of the various parish syntheses also reveals a certain consistency in looking at the Church. The faithful, participating in the synodal meetings, see virtually the same good as well as weak points in the functioning of the Church, which is a clear signal of the work of the Holy Spirit, moving the hearts of Christians to even greater concern and commitment to renew the face of the community of Christ’s disciples.
The lay parish coordinators, who took on the task with great responsibility, proved to be a strong point in the process, which resulted in the process being carried out at the parish level. Many of them read their task as a mission and carried it out in the spirit of Christian vocation. These attitudes are most noteworthy. The engagement unleashed a joy that proved greater than the original fear of taking on the task. The weak point undoubtedly was the difficulty in reaching people on the periphery of the Church. It is also sad that about 40% of parishes have not taken the synodal path in their community.
The greatest fruit of the Holy Spirit is openness to one another and to oneself. Participants were able to see that differences in perceptions of faith need not be an obstacle, but a richness that everyone brings. It was especially likely to be experienced by those who expressed criticism of the phenomena taking place in the bosom of the Church. Although this led to tensions, no one was disrespected. Among the topics that caused tensions were: the functioning of the church administration, the attitude towards people from the periphery of the church, or people who do not belong to the community of believers. It is to be hoped, however, that the synodal meetings will not only be a beautiful page in the history of the parish, but that they have helped to set the process in motion and will become a permanent trend, the normal way parish communities function.
The Synod on the Synodality of the Local and Universal Church attempts to answer how the Church and its activities are understood by the faithful involved in parish life. Undoubtedly, it is also an attempt to rediscover movements and communities in the life of the Church and to bridge the gap that could be between the clergy and the laity.
The synthesis of the Kielce Church is the result of nine months of consultation in synodal groups at the parish and diocesan levels. The synthesis defined the demands that arose during the work in synodal teams at the level of parishes and various communities operating in the Kielce diocese. The implementation of these demands should improve intra-church relations, strengthen the identity and responsibility of all who make up the faith community of the Diocese of Kielce.
The diocesan synodal team was established in October 2021, and from November local synodal teams began to be formed both in parishes and in religious or other communities – youth and church movements existing in the diocese.
The synthesis is the fruit of consultations that lasted from November2021 to the end of May 2022. They concerned the Church’s vision and evaluation of its activities in the area of ministry:
The synthesis is the fruit of more than eighty reports that came to the diocesan team from different parts of the diocese and communities. Based on the demands that came in from the diocese, the team compiled a ten-page synthesis. The team members noted that the consultations held at the parish level and other communities involved in the life of the Church, are a new experience for the local Church itself. According to the team, the first stage of the synod at the diocesan level brought a new quality of participation in the Church and drew attention to the co-responsibility of all the faithful for the Church, and in many parishes allowed the faithful to experience authentic responsibility for the Church for the first time. At synod meetings at the local level, issues such as the need to broaden intellectual and spiritual pastoral offerings and bridge the gap between the clergy and laity emerged. It was noted that the proclamation of the word of God and the beauty of the liturgy celebrated is an important part of evangelization. It also stressed that modern evangelization work is taking place in highly secularized environments, especially through the media, which have a great influence on shaping human attitudes. These are often anti-Christian proposals. In addition, it was pointed out that it is most difficult to talk to and carry out evangelistic missions with people who are wounded or living on welfare, who have lost their need for eternal life. They emphasized the need to deepen faith by focusing on a relationship with God; the desire to be faithful to Christ; the need to love the Eucharist, to pray and listen to His voice, to discern what Jesus is saying to local communities and the local Church.
The attached synodal synthesis of the Diocese of Kielce does not contain proposals for implementation, but is a synthesis of the submitted statements, in accordance with the work regulations provided by the Holy See.
Rev. Jaroslaw Czerkawski
Synodal synthesis of the Diocese of Kielce
The synthesis was compiled by the synodal team of the Diocese of Kielce, based on materials received from the synodal teams, on the recommendation of Fr. Bishop Jan Piotrowski
Rev. Jaroslaw Czerkawski – coordinator of the Rev. Miroslaw Cisowski
Rev. Marcin Rokita
- Jan Strumilowski
- Natalia Białek
- Małgorzata Krzysztofik
- Weronika Leszczyńska
- Marek Pycia
On October 24, 2021. At the Legnica Cathedral of St. Saints Apostles Peter and Paul Bishop Andrzej Siemieniewski solemnly announced the start of the diocesan stage of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on October 9-10 this year. was convened by Pope Francis in Rome. The watchword for the synodal process that has begun is the call: Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.
The fact that the diocesan stage began was preceded by a special request from the Bishop of Legnica to all diocesans. Bishop Siemieniewski wrote: “I ask the priests to recite together with the faithful the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus for the intention of the Synod after each Mass. this Sunday. I very much ask all diocesans to recommend the Synod to God’s providence also in individual prayer” (“Legnica Diocesan News” 33:2021 no. 4 p. 58).
Guided by the documents prepared by the Holy See, especially the Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality, or the Official Manual for Listening and Discernment in Local Churches, the first decision of the Bishop of Legnica was to appoint a diocesan contact person. By a nomination decree (L.dz. 1211/2021), the Bishop of Legnica appointed a person (Fr. Boguslaw Drozdz) responsible for synodal consultation.
The first task of the diocesan contact person was to read the Preparatory Document for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, followed by the aforementioned Vademecum. Both documents had to be analyzed in the context of the speeches of Pope Francis (18.09.2021; 9.10.2022), the homily delivered (10.10.2021), the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio On the Synod of Bishops (15.09.2018) and the document of the International Theological Commission entitled “The Synod of Bishops”. Synodality in the life and mission of the Church (2.03.2018).
To learn about the synod’s methodology, the diocesan contact person, also known as the coordinator, communicated with coordinators of other dioceses and archdioceses in Poland. This was done especially during monthly consultation meetings organized by the SAC Institute of Catholic Church Statistics.
An important diocesan event of a formative and informative nature was the district meetings organized by the Pastoral Department of the Legnica Bishop’s Curia, which brought together almost all the pastors of the Legnica Diocese. They were held in three locations: Legnica (25.10.2021), Jelenia Gora (27.10.2021) and Boleslawiec (28.10.2021). A special guest at these meetings was Prof. Aleksander Bańka, delegate of the Church in Poland to the Synod of Bishops. The program of these meetings included: prayer, an extended introduction to synodal themes presented by the Bishop of Legnica, a lecture by an invited guest, followed by discussion.
The Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality recommended that before the formulation of the final synthesis, a so-called “synod” should be organized in the diocese. presynodal meeting. In the Diocese of Legnica, the gathering covered four stages. It can be said that there were four mini presynodal meetings. The first of these meetings included clerics who, by bishop’s decision, occupy leading positions in church institutions in the Diocese of Legnica. Among those in attendance were. employees of the Legnica Bishop’s Curia headed by the moderator, superiors of the Theological Seminary headed by the rector, employees of Legnica Caritas headed by the director. On 7/12/2021. Nearly 25 people attended the meeting at the Bishop’s House.
The second meeting in the nature of a mini presynodal meeting was held on 10/12/2021. At the Tchaikovsky Meeting Center. John Paul II in Legnica. All pastors of the Diocese of Legnica, including religious, were invited to this meeting. Attendance was not mandatory. It was important that people interested in the Synod attend the meeting. Nearly 50 clergy representing almost all the deaneries attended the meeting.
The third meeting brought together lay Catholics representing the world of ecclesiastical associations operating in our diocese, people involved in parishes, most often belonging to Parish Councils, as well as unaffiliated people or outright residents of Legnica. The meeting brought together nearly 100 people. The venue for the meeting was the F. S. E. G. Meeting Center. John Paul II in Legnica. The meeting was held on 8.01.2022.
The final, fourth presynodal mini-meeting also took place at the Martin Luther King Meeting Center. John Paul II in Legnica. On 22.01.2022. 35 people attended. It was intended as a youth meeting, nevertheless, understandably, quite a number of young people came with their catechists or guardians. There were youth representations from all schools run by religious orders in our diocese, also scouts or young people belonging to the Catholic Youth Association.
All of the above presynodal meetings followed a pre-prepared program. They began with the Adsumus Sanctae Spiritus prayer, followed by a word from the Bishop of Legnica, then an introduction by the coordinator, who, after providing the context for the synodal main and accompanying questions, encouraged participants to speak freely, bear witness and participate in the dialogues. The emerging discussion was overly inspired by biblical texts, especially those from the Acts of the Apostles. The entirety of the meetings was then synthesized by the coordinator and, through the closing word of the Bishop of Legnica, elevated to the status of a jointly experienced divine gift to the local Church, which through communion, participation and mission is to carry out with increasing zeal the salvific task of Jesus Christ. The final chord of the meetings was a joint Prayer to Mary for the New Evangelization of the Diocese of Legnica, referring to the First Synod of the Diocese of Legnica (2007-2012), and the blessing of the Bishop of Legnica. The presynodal meetings under discussion were announced in advance with the help of diocesan media. By design, these were not closed meetings that could exclude anyone in advance. In addition, the fact that they were carried out, along with the reporting information, was made public. The meeting agenda also included time for a meal.
For the sake of the report as a whole, it should be noted that the diocesan contact person, in consultation with the Bishop of Legnica, has sent a special letter to all parish priests encouraging them to have a so-called “parochial meeting” in each parish community. synodal meeting, which, in addition to the Parish Council, will bring together representatives of all church associations (groups, communities, movements and associations), as well as people more involved in the life of the parish. The letter noted that the purpose of the meeting to be held is to experience the Church together, and the prayer, reflection and exchange of ideas undertaken is to appreciate the existing, as well as to release a multiplied co-responsibility for the entire parish community, which above all is a communion of faith, worship and love.
Special letters were also sent to the deanery priests. They too, on behalf of the Bishop of Legnica, were encouraged by the coordinator to hold a so-called synodal meeting, which would bring together all the priests working in the individual parishes of one deanery. The two letters presented above recalled the basic documents of the Synod, as well as directly posed the general question: “The synodal Church, in proclaiming the Gospel, is “walking together.” How is this “walking together” being realized in your local Church today? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take so that we grow in our ‘walking together’?” (DP 26; VS 5, 3). It was also asked that the fruit of the organized meetings be suggestions, reflections or postulates on the life of the Church in the specific environmental conditions of the parishes concerned, forwarded to the coordinator’s office.
The formal presentation of the diocesan stage of the Synod on synodality is the basis for the substantive side of the measures taken. The first and main topic of all meetings was diocesan anniversaries, which in turn became an additional inspiration, also a context, for all the other issues that characterize the experience of the local Church. These are the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Legnica and the 25th anniversary of the Diocese of Legnica. anniversary of the presence of the Holy Father John Paul II in Legnica, with which was connected the coronation of the Krzeszów image of Our Lady of Grace. It is also necessary to take into account two high-profile events that mark the discussion being undertaken about the local Church in the key of “going together.” The imposing theme, still relevant, is the First Synod of the Diocese of Legnica with its documents, which were approved by the then Bishop of Legnica Stefan Cichy, with which the whole process of their implementation in the religious life of the Legnica people of God is significantly connected. The next event in turn concerns the beatification process of the Servant of God Henry II the Pious, which is being implemented in the Diocese of Legnica. This process can not only provide additional inspiration for the growth of piety, but also unveil those areas of socio-cultural life that are generally given – from the point of view of social integrity – important significance. It is about national identity, historical memory, patriotism, religious culture, including sacred art, or the public defense of faith. Also woven into the whole deliberations is a fact of historical significance, namely the transition or transfer of alumni from the Legnica seminary to the Metropolitan Theological Seminary in Wroclaw. This is done in 30. year of the diocese’s existence, and this fact can neither be overlooked nor under any circumstances be considered a “success” and so simply, as if unreflectively, explained only by the so-called “success”. “historical necessity” in the sense of a canonical order. The aforementioned context in its entirety means that the diagnosis of the ecclesiastical life of the diocese certainly requires special attention. Especially since it also becomes a source of new initiatives or suggestions and an aid directly supporting the current Bishop of Legnica, the fourth in the diocese’s history, in his pastoral-apostolic strategy.
In the Archdiocese of Lublin, the synod on synodality has been integrated into the work of the ongoing Third Synod of the Archdiocese of Lublin. The diocesan consultations made use of previously created parish and decanal synodal teams and thematic commissions: lay, priestly, consecrated persons, liturgical, catechization and evangelization, youth, family, mercy, ecumenical, missionary, cultural and economic. Both laymen and clergy serve on each committee. These teams provide a space for meeting and sharing the experience of being in the Church. The same is true of the members of the Third Synod of the Archdiocese of Lublin: half of its 214 participants are laymen.
At the diocesan stage of the bishops’ synod, a questionnaire was sent to all parish and deanery teams. In addition, the following special meetings were held:
- With representatives of organizations and communities dealing with the sick and disabled,
- With representatives of organizations providing assistance to people at risk of social exclusion (2 meetings),
- With residents of the Support Center for the Homeless in Lublin.
- In the pastoral care of people in non-sacramental relationships,
Twelve questions were addressed to parish and decanal teams. 161 parishes and 6 deaneries submitted responses. Dozens of individual, anonymous surveys were also submitted via mail or email.
The opening ceremony of the Synod in the Diocese of Lomza took place on Sunday, November 22, 2021. Presided over by the Bishop of Lomza, Janusz Stepnowski. At the same time, the synodal process in the deaneries was opened on the same day. The ceremony was presided over by the dean priests.
The delay from the Church-wide date was due to a desire to better prepare synodal animators in parishes for practical action. Hence, from the beginning of October to mid-November 2021, formation meetings of animators were conducted in all the deaneries of the Diocese of Lomza. The next stage was a meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Lomza. The topics of the meetings were entirely devoted to the synodal process. Members of both committees also considered how to more effectively carry out synodal activities in parish communities.
The Diocesan Synodal Team has adopted a plan for conducting the Synod, and the Synod Secretariat has also released a synodal questionnaire prepared together with the Diocese of Warsaw-Praga. In addition, a special e-mail address has been made available for those on the periphery of the Church.
Synodal meetings were held from December 1, 2021 to April 15, 2022. About 150 synodal teams were consulted, including three youth-specific teams. The number of participants in the meetings is estimated at about 1,200 people. The syntheses sent to the secretariat and the results of the surveys were used to create a working draft of the diocesan synthesis. After further consultations, a draft synthesis was drawn up and approved at a plenary meeting in Lomza. It was held in the diocesan capital on the Eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy, Saturday, April 23, 2022.
This synthesis has been prepared according to the indications of the Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality and is contained in three sections:
- consultation process
- meeting topics concluded with the formulation of conclusions
- first fruits of the Synod
It should be said that the synodal process in the diocese is something relatively new. The Lomza local church has experienced only one diocesan synod in its nearly 100-year history (1995-2005). Significantly, it was canonical rather than pastoral in nature. Thus, for most clergy and laity, the current synodal process has become something new and promising. In the closing statements, the enthusiasm and discovery of the synodality method of cooperation in the Church was evident.
The first chance turned out to be the meeting itself. Although the meetings were of a different nature and there were some tensions, the opportunity to meet and voice their thoughts was appreciated. They stressed that many of the problems stem from a lack of proper communication. Many participants in the synodal process in the Diocese of Lomza emphasized that for the first time they had the opportunity to serve in building shared responsibility for the parish and the local Church.
Pandemic problems have caused a decline in interest in the Synod. Synodal work was also not served by the diocesan bishop’s indications of pandemic restrictions, among them a ban on small group meetings. Attempts were made to move the work to the Internet. However, not everyone felt comfortable in the online space. It should be added that a large group of parishes did not undertake synodal work at all. At the same time, it was noted that much to be desired was communication within the parish. Often pastors did not provide the laity with the information they needed in a timely manner.
Meetings and panel discussions held within the Diocese of Lowicz regarding the Synod on Synodality focused on several topics. The whole discussion was based mainly on an assessment of the situation in which the Church currently finds itself, showing the positive and negative features of the Church, and drawing conclusions. Certain paths have been suggested, which, according to those taking up the discussion, the Church should follow.
The task of the 16th Universal Synod announced by Pope Francis is to listen, as the whole People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is currently saying to the Church. Hence, in the first phase of the synodal proceedings, an extensive consultation process was initiated to gather the wealth of experience of lived synodality, in its various expressions and aspects, through the involvement of pastors and faithful of local churches at all levels. This is the first time we have encountered such a situation. Probably for this reason, the call for synodal consultation was met with three attitudes:
- enthusiasm and gratitude for creating space and giving opportunities for the laity in particular to have a voice in the Church.
- fear of entering the synodal path associated with, for example, the German synodal path.
- concerns about whether we as ordinary Christians have anything to say to the Pope and whether the voice of the faithful will be heard at all.
These doubts are illustrated by the following statements: “Synodality, listening to the voice of God’s people, having a prophetic spirit, is needed, although some have doubts about whether we are worthy and in the right office to speak out”; “Is it possible to reliably gather and compile all the voices of God’s people on this issue. And so the final pronouncements of all will be decided by the rapporteurs”; “What is this synod for!”; “What is its real meaning?”; “Who needs what we are trying to discern here?”; “What can we concretely do permanently (not for the drawer and non-being)!”. “The lay members of the group are constantly troubled by the question of the purpose of the synodal meetings and the possibility of a real impact of our deliberations and discussions on changes in the Church, if only on the ground of the parish.”
The first fruit of the synod was the meeting itself, which often brought together people presenting different groups/communities and, above all, different sensitivities, perceptions of the universal and local Church, pastoral expectations, and perceptions of their role in the Church and its mission. Despite the sometimes opposing voices, participants in the synod groups valued above all the opportunity to MEET and have a conversation initiated and concluded with prayer. It was held in an atmosphere of listening to each other without dispute or argument, but at the same time without ignoring differences: “[Spotkanie] showed us what we know about each other and whether we can share and listen to it. It brought out our fears of trusting God and each other completely. This experience shows us the importance of community discernment.” “After the second meeting was over, it was already possible to see concrete actions increasing the involvement of group members in the life of the Church. There was an atmosphere of true unity despite differences, and all members were united by a desire to do good for the Church (sometimes understood differently, but always with respect for other views). After the meeting, many people were still talking about various topics. As the coordinator of the group, I can write that we felt the work of the Holy Spirit among us.”
The gift of meeting after pandemic time was also appreciated. For some, the announcement of the synod was a mobilization to return to the practice of meeting, breaking down the barrier created by the time of isolation. An example is the experience of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. LA, who formed 17 synodal groups: “The dominant fruit of the meetings was joy, despite the difficulties of organizing them. The opportunity to meet ministers from other parishes allowed us to see and experience that some of our weaknesses, hardships, but also the graces associated with this ministry are shared and can be experienced together. The desire was expressed to continue meetings of stewards also after the synod and to hold formation within smaller groups, such as decanal groups.”
Based on the syntheses, at least four types of synodal groups can be distinguished:
- Consisting of members of specific communities. Participants in such meetings will continue formation in their communities. In their case, the call to answer the questions posed within the synod showed how they as a community find themselves (or not) in the Church’s journey together. Facing some of the issues required looking at one’s own involvement or lack thereof especially in relation to the parish community and mission readiness.
- Synodal groups were formed in parishes to carry out the task of answering the synod’s questions. They consisted of representatives from various communities and parishioners who do not belong to a specific formation group. These meetings provided an opportunity to exchange views from the perspectives of different communities, sometimes it was the first opportunity to talk about the Church and the parish, and the first opportunity for parishioners not participating in the communities to speak at the parish forum.
- In many cases, new groups have been formed, which, although constituted to carry out the task of responding to the synod’s questions, can become the nucleus of formation meetings or the creation of a new space in the parish for meeting,discussion and concrete action.
- Online groups have also been formed in LA, in which, in addition to the applicants, the following took part as observers: bishops and representatives of the Curia, the rectors of the WSD and Redemptoris Mater Seminary, diocesan pastors of various communities Most of the participants (about 60 in total), were people involved in the life of their parishes or communities, which leads to the first question, why did they not have the opportunity to speak in their communities? With regard to all the groups identified, the question should be raised not only about the experience of the synodal meeting but also about its further fruits: Is this the beginning of the road? What should be done to ensure that it continues and how?
It should also be noted that synodal meetings were not held in many parishes. The start of the meetings in late October/early November caused some to fear contagion, but a much more common reason was the lack of interest or even denial of the very idea of a synod by the laity and/or priests. For these reasons, synodal meetings were not held in ca. 1/3 of the parish of LA. The information sent pointed to a lack of willingness to form synod groups, a lack of encouragement from priests, expressions of doubt that the voice of the laity will change anything in the parish, or that nothing needs to change because “it’s fine the way it is.” The vast majority of the meetings were devoted to the experience of one’s/our church or parish: “[Spotkanie] showed us what we know about ourselves and whether we can share and listen to it. It brought out our fears of trusting God and each other completely. This experience shows us the importance of community discernment.”
Although such observations are not included in the syntheses, it should be noted that there is a group of people who, for various reasons, did not attend the meetings, but prayed fervently for the synod.
The opening ceremony of the diocesan stage of the Synod on synodality took place on October 17, 2021. at the Opole Cathedral during a Eucharist presided over by Opole Bishop Andrzej Czai with the participation of clergy, consecrated persons and lay faithful. On that day, the Bishop of Opole appointed a 15-member Synodal Team, consisting of the diocesan synod moderator, 2 contact persons and 13 persons responsible for preparing and coordinating synodal consultations in various environments of the diocese, which are: parishes and deaneries, catechists and teachers, consecrated persons, families, youth, the sick, the excluded and those involved in charitable activities, academia and the arts, the media, national minorities and the ecumenical community. One member of the Team combined the role of contact person and responsible for the environment of teachers and catechists.
Members of the Synodal Team after the inaugural Mass. met with the Bishop of Opole, who introduced them to the idea of the Synod and expressed his expectations for the course of the Synod in our diocese. The assembled were asked to appoint more coordinators who, properly prepared, will conduct synodal consultations or prepare more people to organize these meetings. The process was completed in November 2021. The coordinators appointed by the members of the Synodal Team were joined by the deans of the 36 deaneries of the Diocese of Opole or their delegated clergy and 1-2 lay people to support the preparation and conduct, among other things. open inter-parish or decanal meetings.
Due to the constraints of the pandemic, correspondence between the Synod Secretariat and coordinators was carried out by phone and email, and coordinator training was successfully conducted remotely using the Zoom platform. To support the preparation of pastors and lay coordinators working with them, a Polish translation of the International Theological Commission’s document “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church” was distributed to all parishes on the initiative of the Bishop of Opole.
In November 2021, a sub-page on the diocesan website concerning the Synod was created, where information, invitations, chronicles and other synodal materials were systematically posted, and the diocesan radio station Radio Doxa began broadcasting “Synodal Fridays,” in which the guests of Ms. Editor Ewa Skrabacz were members of the Synodal Team and other people involved in the Synod. The theme of the Synod was also vividly present in the public preaching of the Bishop of Opole.
From January to May 2022, synodal meetings were held at various levels, which will be described below. In addition to the meetings held by the coordinators, the opportunity for one-on-one meetings at the Synod Secretariat was also given, with priests assigned to the talks on duty. From these meetings, synodal notes were produced, the contents of which formed the basis for this statistic and synodal synthesis.
On the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29, 2022, in the context of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Opole, the Diocesan Presynodal Meeting was held, at which the present synthesis was presented. The following day, June 30, 2022, the day the synthesis was handed over to the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Opole, accompanied by, among others, members of the Synodal Team, set out on the 4-day Synodal Camino along the Nysa Way of St. James, leading through the Opole Diocese, making it another platform for meetings, consultations and synodal discussions on the road.
A consistent assumption regarding synodal consultations has been to undertake them almost exclusively through face-to-face meetings. Thus, the preparation of surveys and other online platforms for the exchange of ideas was ruled out; what remained was the possibility of e-mail and telephone contact with the Synod Secretariat, which, by the way, was used not only by Synod coordinators. In addition, websites, social networks and other media, including diocesan media, were used, as well as parish newspapers and pulpits to provide information about and invitations to meetings.
Synodal meetings were proposed at four levels: (1) individual, animated by the Synod Secretariat (one-on-one meetings, telephone conversations, e-mail correspondence); (2) parish, to which members of Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Economic Councils and other willing parish residents were invited; (3) inter-parish (decanal), where meetings were open and brought together participants from different parishes and with varying degrees of involvement in the Church community; at the decanal level, the Opole Bishop also invited pastoral ministers serving there to synodal consultations; (4) at the level of diocesan communities, movements, ministries and circles, where meetings were animated by members of the Synodal Team and their appointed coordinators. In addition to this, synodal consultations, led personally by the Bishop of Opole, also took place in diocesan bodies, including. in the Bishop’s Council (which performed some of the tasks of the Diocesan Pastoral Council during the pandemic), in the Court of the Diocese of Opole, and among the consecrated and lay people employed by the Diocesan Curia in Opole.
To help coordinators and participants conduct synodal meetings, the Synod Secretariat prepared four meeting outlines, according to the key of synodal consultation topics proposed by the Bishop of Opole, referring to the Synod’s title: (1) Walking Together; (2) Communion; (3) Participation; (4) Mission. Each handout included: a synodal prayer, a Scripture passage with a reflection/commentary, and questions to facilitate reflection around the proposed topic. The second part of this synthesis, based on this very key, will present the experiences and demands of the participants in the synodal consultations.
Notes submitted to the Synod Secretariat and consultations with coordinators show that the vast majority of meetings were held in a friendly atmosphere, even in cases where the opinions presented were extremely different. There have been times when the inability to calmly communicate one’s own views or respect dissenting beliefs in an interlocutor has led to disruptions in a meeting, loudly expressing one’s displeasure, and even a group of participants leaving a meeting. However, these were sporadic situations, and their origins are to be found in the complete denial by some of the faithful of the idea of the Synod, and even a willingness to disrupt its proceedings.
Many of the meetings were held with familiar people (PRD, PRE, communities), but also, in many cases, participants had the opportunity to meet and share their own experience of faith and understanding of the Church for the first time, as well as engage in reflection about its future. This situation has generated several attitudes, among them: gratitude and enthusiasm, but also distance, fear and doubt. Enthusiasm and gratitude concerned: (1) the fact of being actively involved in reflecting on the Church and its condition, and openly dreaming about its future; (2) the opportunity to meet, especially after pandemic restrictions, and to listen to each other and exchange views, which, according to most of the participants in the meetings, is an all too rare but much needed experience in the Church. However, there were also questions about the legitimacy of this type of open reflection on the Church and the inclusion of the lay faithful, suspicions about attempts to “dismantle the Church” with the Synod, concerns about going down the “German synodal road,” and doubts about whether the voice of Synod participants would be heard and taken into account at later stages of the synodal process. Some participants in synod meetings, especially at the parish level, despite being warned about the nature of the meeting, did not speak up in the discussion.
The Opole Latin Tradition Community spoke extensively in the synodal discussion. Challenging the legitimacy of the accusations leveled against this Environment of not recognizing the legitimacy of Vatican II and invoking Catholic Tradition, representatives of this Environment warn against the heresy of modernism served up in an “attractive humanistic package” and ask the Synod to courageously search for the sources of weakness in the Church itself and for inspiration to boldly proclaim the Gospel, make demands of Catholics and for a more radical witness given by the clergy.
The distance from the Synod was shown, unfortunately, by many priests (as reflected in the statistics below), by not attending the synodal meetings of the decanal presbytery, by ignoring invitations to hold synodal meetings in their parishes, and finally by unilaterally dominating the meetings and orienting them in such a way that there was no opportunity to freely express their own views or comments, for example, on parish pastoral care.
The synodal consultations also encountered other obstacles. Their commencement at a time when sanitary restrictions were in effect generated fears of Covid-19 infection, and the following weeks, in the context of which the war in Ukraine, the return of many to full life activity after the pandemic, and field work, meant that interest in the Synod waned. In cyclical meetings of synodal groups, the number of participants has steadily declined. Some did not like the way the synod meetings were conducted and the specific focus of the discussions, while others found the prepared handouts to be of little use and written in too difficult language.
Among the coordinators of clergy and laity, there was no shortage of people who tirelessly organized many synod meetings, gathering around them people ready to share responsibility for the Church and willing to continue these meetings. Given the rich experience of ecumenical cooperation in our diocese, it was possible to recruit, among others, to the synodal coordinators. pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Pentecostal Church, and conduct synodal consultations with the faithful of these churches as well. Representatives of the Congress of Catholic Women and Catholics also contributed a valuable voice to the synod’s ecumenical reflection, advocating, among other things. Incorporating ecumenical themes into traditional pastoral care in the Catholic Church and into catechesis – in order to deepen the “ecumenical consciousness of Catholics”, organizing ecumenical tourism or taking other initiatives that would build a culture of encounter and dialogue. Thanks to the ministry of the Bishop of Opole’s Almshouse, introduced several years ago, it was also possible to reach out to the homeless and excluded and the volunteers who serve them, and to hear their voices in the synodal discussion. The voice of those still keenly interested in pastoral ministry in the German language, as well as the admittedly small group of young people whose bond with the Church after receiving the sacrament of Confirmation has visibly weakened, but who nevertheless wished to participate in the Synod, also seems exceptionally valuable.
With the above-mentioned groups in mind, one must conclude that despite attempts to reach as wide an environment as possible, we heard almost exclusively the voice of believers and those involved, albeit to varying degrees, in the Church community. Although a lot of concern for the younger generation was “heard” in the synod discussions, the youth themselves had little participation in the Synod. Other environments located “on the periphery of the Church” also resound insufficiently in the synodal syntheses.
The above-mentioned four levels of synodal consultation in the Diocese of Opole, traces of which were transmitted in the synodal notes, can be described by several figures. (1) In one-on-one meetings (these are considered to be meetings at the Synod Secretariat, phone calls, and e-mails that have synodal demands in their content), approx. 15 people. (2) For members of Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Economic Councils and invited volunteers, 278 meetings were held in 94 parishes. A total of approx. 1400 people. (3) In 25 deaneries, 80 coordinators organized 149 supra-parish meetings attended by 1,511 people from 118 parishes. In addition, presbyteries in 18 deaneries gathered for synodal meetings, holding a total of 49 meetings. (4) Finally, at the level of communities, ministries and other settings, 77 coordinators organized 135 meetings with a total of 1,396 participants. Thus, a total of 635 meetings were held in the Diocese of Opole, attended by a total of approx. 5340 people. However, since some attended several meetings, the actual number of people participating in the synodal consultations can be estimated at 3,800. These people were willing to reflect around the 4 themes suggested by the Synod’s title. Its fruits we try to briefly present later in this synthesis in the key: experiences and dreams.
On October 22, 2021, Pelplin Bishop Richard Kasyna opened the diocesan stage of the Synod on Synodality with a Mass. To develop and implement the goals of the Synod on October 7, 2021, he appointed a synodal team consisting of Bishop Arkadiusz Okroj, Fr. Piotr Lipkowski, Sr. Dorota Cichon, Malgorzata Krzeminska and Maciej Kozak. This team, in cooperation with those responsible for the various diocesan structures, adopted the following synodal action plan.
Each of the activities consisted of two parts: praying together and sharing personal experience of life in the Church.The fruits of all the meetings were collected and submitted to the Diocesan Synodal Team, which discerned three main areas emerging from the contributions of the Synod participants. They are an answer to the question of how “walking together” is realized in our local Church today, and what the Holy Spirit especially invites us to do in order to be a more synodal community.
Dn. October 1, 2021 r. Bishop Piotr Libera of Plock, in connection with the universal synodal process launched by Pope Francis in the Church, appointed two of its coordinators in the Diocese of Plock: Fr. dr. Wojciech Kućka, a professor at the WSD in Płock, a lecturer at UKSW in Warsaw and director of the Department for the Study of the History of the World. The family members of the Plock Curia, and Dr. Witold Jack Wybult, an employee of the same department and president of the Association of Catholic Families of the Plock Diocese (Cf. P. LIBERA, Order of the Bishop of Plock on the organization and conduct of the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, “Plock Pastoral Monthly” 106/116 (2021) 10, s. 878-885).
An important stage of the journey together was the liturgical opening of the process at the Cathedral Basilica in Plock on Dn. November 7, 2021. And the dedication of the entire work to the intercession of Our Lady of Mazovia. The gathering of synodal votes and meetings of various boards, groups and associations then began. In seven Marian shrines of the diocese (Czerwinsk-on-Vistula – the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation; Plock – the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Popowo Koscielne – the shrine of Our Lady of Popovska, Mother of Hope; Przasnysz – the shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Presence; Sierpc – the shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Presence. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Popowo Koscielne – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Popovska Mother of Hope, Przasnysz – the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Immaculate Guide; Sierpc – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Sierpc; Skępe – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Skepe; Zuromin – the sanctuary of Our Lady of Zuromin) held meetings of district synodal teams, composed of representatives of various groups and states in the Church. An important stage of synodal listening was the meetings of diocesan bodies and councils: Diocesan Priestly Council; Diocesan Pastoral Council; Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Plock; Social Council to the Bishop of Plock; Youth Pastoral Council; Higher Theological Seminary in Plock; Religious Synodal Group; group of synodal clergy at meetings in the diocesan deaneries (in 22 of the 28 deaneries). Meetings of movements and associations, organized by: Association of Catholic Families of the Catholic Diocese of Plock; parish circles of the Association of Catholic Families of the Catholic Diocese of Plock from Plock; synodal group of women; Priestly Community of Lay People; Dialogue Section of the Plock Scientific Society (ecumenical synodal dialogue). In addition, meetings of parish bodies were held, mainly Parish Pastoral Councils (62 of 249 parishes). Box votes came down from 8 parishes, while individual votes were about 200. In addition, the coordinators of the synodal process participated in Warsaw on dn. March 19-20, 2022. In a meeting with Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, as well as in online sessions organized by the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the SAC Institute for Statistics of the Catholic Church. Rev. Witold Zdaniewicz.
The diocesan-wide, visible and lasting fruit of the synodal process are the Eucharistic days, during which the faithful, every day in a different place in the diocese (in parishes and religious communities), have the opportunity to listen to the Lord, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament (Cf. P. LIBERA, Order of the Bishop of Plock on Eucharistic Days in the Diocese of Plock dated January 6, 2022, “Circular” (2022) No. 1, pp. 1-14). In addition, for each of the first Sundays of the month from November 2021 to May 2022, Fr. Wojciech Kućko prepared appropriate universal prayers and schemes for adoration services for the good experience and fruits of the synodal process, published in the “E-Bulletin,” the “Circular,” and on the website www.plockierodziny.pl. A Twitter account (@SynodPlock) was also created for wider access to knowledge and contact opportunities, as well as a synod email box email@example.com. A material fruit of the synod was also the development and presentation at the opening ceremony of the coat of arms of the Plock diocese (Cf. W. KUĆKO, Coat of arms of the Plock diocese, in TENŻE (ed.), Yearbook of the Plock diocese 2021. Personal-administrative structure, Plock 2022, pp. 37-40). The consultation process was completed on April 30, 2022, and the diocesan presynodal meeting took place during Vespers at the Cathedral Basilica in Plock on May 2, 2022, on the feast of St. Sigismund, patron saint of the city of Plock and of the Plock Cathedral Chapter (For the synodal prayer meetings, texts have been published for a better experience of them, see W. KUĆKO, W. WYBULT, Commencement of the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, Plock 2021; P. WIŚNIEWSKI (ed.), Vespers in honor of St. Zygmunt, Plock 2022. All participants in the diocesan presynodal meeting received commemorative magnets with the logo of the synod and the diocesan coat of arms). On May 30, 2022, the synodal questionnaire, prepared by the Fr. Witold Zdaniewicz Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church SAC, was completed and sent through the system. The synodal process was primarily an opportunity to search once again, in new pastoral conditions, for an answer to the question posed by St. John Paul II at the end of the 42nd synod of the Diocese of Plock in the Cathedral on Tumskie Hill: “”Church, what do you say about yourself?” (cf. John 1:22). […] Who are you? Who should you be? How can you become what you should be, in order to respond to the “signs of the times” (cf. Mt. 16:3), in order to respond to the expectations and requirements of your own community, and indirectly of the entire nation, entering a new period of its history? Quid dicis de te ipso?” (Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Word of the Holy Father during the devotion to the Heart of Jesus, Plock, June 7, 1991, in E. CZUMAKOV, D. SOBKOWICZ (eds.), Thank God, the spirit is not extinguished. The Fourth Pilgrimage of the Holy Father John Paul II to the Fatherland, June 1-9, 1991, Warsaw 1991, p. 268). The Plock synodal experience is part of the slogan of the synodal process: Communion, Participation and Mission. Undoubtedly important and worthy of mention in this context is also the legacy of Rev. Paul Wlodkowic of Brudzenia (1370/1373-1435) and his views expressed during the dispute with the Teutonic Knights at the Council of Constance in the spirit of dialogue and the pursuit of truth. A summary of the summation of votes obtained in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock is presented in the appendix to this text (see Appendix 1).
By April 30, 2022, all the votes from the dioceses were submitted to the coordinators of the synodal process. Then a large and time-consuming effort was made to analyze the collected material, segregate and arrange according to the methodology proposed by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops the ten main issues that needed to be deepened (Cf. M. PRZECISZEWSKI, Speech after the Mass inaugurating the diocesan stage of the synod on synodality, Cathedral Basilica, Plock, November 7, 2021, “Miesięcznik Pasterski Płocki” 116 (2021) No. 11, pp. 1038-1044). The idea was to consider how “the synodal Church, in proclaiming the Gospel, ‘walks together’; how is this ‘walking together’ realized […] in the particular Church? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘walking together’?” (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Preparatory Document for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “Toward a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” Vatican 2021, no. 26). All activities were accompanied by an atmosphere of prayer and listening to what God is saying to the Church. The following is a collective compilation of the collected voices in the key of the ten synodal issues. All statements were taken from the reports, e-mails and other voices presented, then reworked and adapted for this report. Each issue is preceded by a brief, general philosophical-theological-pastoral reflection, after which specific indications (conclusions) are written for further work in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, i.e. steps to be taken in what was discerned as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Appendix 1 (As of May 15, 2022 r., slightly updated from the compilation published earlier in: W. KUĆKO, W. WYBULT, Information of the Coordinators of the Synodal Process. Summary of the summary of votes in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, “Circular” (2022) No. 18, s. 123-125)
SUMMARY OF VOTES COLLECTED IN THE SYNODAL PROCESS IN THE DIOCESE OF PŁOCK
- Synodal meetings of diocesan bodies and institutions
- Diocesan Council of Priests;
- Diocesan Pastoral Council;
- Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Plock;
- Social Council to the Bishop of Plock;
- Youth Pastoral Council;
- Higher Seminary in Plock;
- Religious synodal group, composed of representatives of male and female religious orders, institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life, virgins and consecrated widows;
- Clergy synodal groups in the diocese’s deaneries (votes were received from dean priests from the following 22 of the 28 deaneries: Bielski, Bodzanowski, Dobrzynski nad Wisłą, Gąbiński, Gostyniński, Mławski Zachodni, Nasielski, Płock East, Płock West, Płoński South, Płoński North, Przasnyski, Pułtusk, Raciński, Rypinski, Serocki, sierpecki, Strzegowski, Tłuchowski, wyszogrodzki, zakroczymski, Żuromiński);
- District synodal groups at Marian shrines in the diocese: Czerwińsk-on-Vistula, sanctuary of Our Lady of Consolation (decanates: Plonski south, Plonski north, wyszogrodzki, zakroczymski); Plock, Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary of the Cross, Plock. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (decanates: bodzanowski, gąbiński, gostyniński, Płock eastern, Płock western); Popowo Kościelne, sanctuary of Our Lady of Popowska, Mother of Hope (decanates: nasielski, Pułtusk, serocki); Przasnysz, sanctuary of Our Lady of Immaculate Presence (decanates: ciechanowski wschodni, ciechanowski zachodni, dzierzgowski, makowski, przasnyski); Sierpc, sanctuary of Our Lady of Sierpc, Lady of Unfailing Hope (decanates: raciąski, sierpecki, strzegowski); Skępe, sanctuary of Our Lady of Skepe (decanates: Bielski, Dobrzyń nad Wisłą, Tłuchowski); Żuromin, sanctuary of Our Lady of Żuromin (decanates: Dobrzyń nad Drwęcą, Mławski Wschodni, Mławski Zachodni, Rypinski, Żuromin);
- School of the New Evangelization of the Diocese of Plock named after him. St. Luke the Evangelist.
- Movements, associations and other groups
- Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Parish circles from Plock of the Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Women’s synod group;
- Priestly Community of Secular Persons;
- Ecumenical synodal dialogue in the Plock Scientific Society.
III. Parishes of the Diocese of Plock, which submitted synodal votes from the meeting of parish bodies (mainly Parish Pastoral Councils; in order by deanery):
- Bielski decanate: Bonislaw; Ciachcin; Gozdowo (3 of 10 parishes);
- Bodzan decanate: Bodzan (1 of 11 parishes);
- Ciechanow Eastern Decanate: Ciechanow, pw. St. St. Joseph; Paluki (2 of 11 parishes);
- Ciechanow western decanate: Ciechanow, pw. Our Lady of Fatima, Ciechanow, pw. St. St. Peter the Apostle; Maluzyn; Sulerzyzh; Zeńbok (5 of 8 parishes);
- Dobrzyn deanery on the Drwęca River: Obory, Płonne (2 of 9 parishes);
- Dobrzyn decanate on the Vistula: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Dzierzgowo decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Gąbin decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Gostynin decanate: (0 of 7 parishes);
- Makow decanate: Makow Mazowiecki, pw. St. St. Joseph (1 of 8 parishes);
- Eastern decanate of Mława: Mlawa pw. St. St. Stanislaus BM; Szydlowo (2 of 9 parishes);
- Western Decanate of Mława: Mława, pw. Our Lady Queen of Poland; Mława, pw. St. St. John Cantius; Szreńsk (3 of 7 parishes);
- Nasielsk decanate: Nasielsk, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. Catherine’s Church; Nasielsk, pw. St. St. Adalbert (2 of 10 parishes);
- Eastern Plock decanate: Plock, pw. Our Lady of Fatima; Plock, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. James; Plock, pw. St. The parishes of St. Joseph (3 of 8 parishes);
- Western Plock decanate: Brwilno; Plock, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. Bartholomew’s Church; Plock, pw. St. The parishes of St. Sigismund (3 of 10 parishes);
- Southern Plonsk decanate: Krysk; Plonsk, pw. St. The following are the most important parts of the city: St. Michael the Archangel; Plonsk, pw. St. St. Padre Pio; Radzymin (4 of 8 parishes);
- North Plonsk decanate: Baboszewo; Królewo; Plonsk, pw. St. St. Maximilian Kolbe; Smardzewo (4 of 7 parishes);
- Przasnysz decanate: Czernice Borowe; Przasnysz, pw. Christ the Savior; Przasnysz, pw. St. St. Stanislaus Kostka; Święte Miejsce; Węgra (5 of 9 parishes); Pultusk decanate: Zambski (1 of 12 parishes);
- Racia decanate: (0 of 10 parishes);
- Ripin deanery: Osiek; Rogowo; Ripin, pw. St. St. Stanislaus Kostka; Rypin, pw. Holy Trinity; Strzygi; Swiedziebnia (6 of 11 parishes);
- Serock decanate: Popowo; Zegrze with its seat in Wola Kielpinska (2 of 7 parishes);
- Sierpc decanate: Sierpc, pw. St. St. Benedict’s (1 of 13 parishes);
- Strzegowo decanate: Dabrowa; Strzegowo (2 of 7 parishes);
- Tlukhov decanate: Mochowo; Skępe, pw. Divine Mercy; Tłuchowo (3 of 7 parishes);
- Wyszogrodzka decanate: Kobylniki; Mała Wieś; Orszymowo; Zukowo (4 of 9 parishes);
- Zakroczym decanate: Zakroczym (1 of 8 parishes);
- Zuromin decanate: Zieluń; Zuromin (2 of 12 parishes).
A total of 61 out of 249 parishes (≈25%) submitted reports on parish group meetings.
- Parishes of the Diocese of Plock that submitted synodal votes from synodal boxes (in alphabetical order):
- Gostynin, pw. Divine Mercy;
- Plock, pw. St. Sigmund;
- Plonsk, pw. St. Maximilian Kolbe;
- Ripin, pw. Holy Trinity.
A total of 8 out of 249 parishes (≈3%) submitted synod box reports.
- Other individual voices
- Members of the Association of Catholic Families of the Diocese of Plock;
- Synodal box firstname.lastname@example.org – 124 votes;
- Talks at the Plock Diocesan Curia with petitioners on matters of the synodal process – 15 meetings.
- Other meetings
- Meeting with Cardinal. Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, in Warsaw, Poland, on Fri. March 19-20, 2022.
- Individual meetings at the curia and parish chancelleries.
The Synod in the Archdiocese of Poznan was inaugurated on the 17th. October 2021 at the Archcathedral Basilica in Poznań with a Mass presided over by Fr. Archbishop. Stanislaw Gądecki, Metropolitan of Poznan. Rev. The archbishop read the appointment decrees of the members of the Archdiocesan Synodal Team, entrusting them with the task of coordinating synodal consultations in the Archdiocese of Poznan and preparing a draft diocesan synthesis. Its members are: s. Maria Kwiek USJK, Fr. Michał Golubiewski OP, Anna Wieradzka-Pilarczyk, Hanna Sołtysiak, Krzysztof Jankowiak, Agata Jankowiak, Rafał Janowicz, Janusz Skotarczak, Cecylia Mir, Mateusz Marszał, Fr. Przemysław Przybylski, Rev. Miroslaw Tykfer. The public consultant for the Synodal Team has been appointed Prof. Hanna Suchocka, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Juvenile Protection. Ecumenical consultation was requested by Rev. Marcin Kotas of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church, chairman of the Poznań branch of the Polish Ecumenical Council and co-chairman of the Poznań Ecumenical Group.
The Archdiocesan Synodal Team established the Synod Secretariat, which took on the task of coordinating the cooperation of the Synodal Team with the coordinators and moderators of the synodal groups. The Secretariat is responsible for promoting the Synod. To this end, it organizes events to promote the Synod, edits the Synod’s website (synodpoznan.pl), maintains social media profiles, provides information, and collects local syntheses and individual surveys. The Synod Secretariat consists of: Cecylia Mir, Justyna Nowicka, Helena Piotrowski, Maria Roeske, Agnieszka Robakowska, Urszula Maria Wosicka, Fr. Miroslaw Tykfer.
The first phase began with the Synod’s inauguration and lasted until Christmas 2021. It was a time of prayer, selection and training of synod group coordinators and moderators, and promotion of the Synod. During this time, the Synod’s website was created and social media communication channels were launched. Supporting materials for group coordinators and meeting participants were also developed and published in printed form: “Guide to Synodal Consultations in the Archdiocese of Poznań” and “Notebook of a Participant in the Synodal Way in the Archdiocese of Poznań”. All materials have been made available to parishes of the Archdiocese of Poznan and non-parish groups. They have also been published electronically on the website.
In addition, the Synodal Team has prepared scenarios for meetings with children and young people, as well as other materials for organizing meetings: pictures with the Ad sumus prayer, posters, flyers and invitations. As of October 2021. Through June 2022. The website was visited by more than 18,500 people. Anyone interested in the Synod can contact the Synod Secretariat by phone at 662 839 355 or by email at email@example.com. So far, nearly 2,000 have been sent. news. Each was answered in writing.
In November 2021. The Synod Secretariat sent invitations to all parishes, communities, movements and religious houses in the Archdiocese of Poznan to participate in the Synod and asked them to identify coordinators who would like to organize the Synodal Way in their community/parish. Then, from November 2021 to February 2022, he conducted 11 training sessions for hundreds of coordinators and group moderators, during which they discussed in detail how to organize and promote the synodal way in local communities. During the trainings, which were conducted using a workshop method, there were exercises to help conduct meetings. The coordinators were also acquainted with the methodological priorities of the syntheses, and received a “Methodological Helper” in which they could find a summary of the methodology for conducting meetings and a diagram of the synthesis. During this time, the Synod Secretariat organized open meetings/debates on social issues, which were attended by nearly 300 people.
The second phase began after Christmas 2021. and lasted until Easter 2022. It was a time of listening to each other in synod groups and writing down and collecting syntheses. The Secretariat continued promotional activities. During this time, new coordinators wishing to establish new groups reported to the Synod Secretariat. The Synodal Team organized further workshop and training meetings for them.
The third phase began after Easter 2022. and concluded by sending a diocesan synthesis to the secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The involvement of the Synodal Team and the Synod Secretariat focused during this time on analyzing the submitted syntheses, editing the diocesan synthesis and organizing the Presynodal Meeting.
The Presynodal Meeting was divided into two parts. The first took place on the 5th. May this year. Rev. Archbishop. Stanislaw Gądecki invited representatives of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Archdiocesan Priestly Council and the Archdiocesan Synodal Team to participate. During the meeting, the method of summarizing the synthesis was presented and the first results of the consultation were presented. The culmination and also the second part of the Presynodal Meeting was the public presentation of all the submitted results of the synodal consultations and a debate with the participation of Fr. Archbishop. Stanislaw Gądecki on how to continue the synodal path in the Archdiocese of Poznań. The meeting was held on the 27th. May 2022. and was attended by several hundred synod group coordinators, facilitators and participants.
The fourth stage of the Synod continues until the beginning of the Synod of Bishops at the level of the universal Church in Rome scheduled for fall 2023. Its purpose is to continue synodal meetings and to create new synodal groups to broaden and deepen the path taken at the diocesan level.
8610 people attended the first stage of the Synod on Synodality in the Archdiocese of Poznań. There were 1,850 meetings, led by 352 coordinators with the support of hundreds of facilitators. Those who were unable to attend the meetings for various reasons were given the opportunity to have their say through an individual survey made available on the Synod’s archdiocesan website. Some synodal groups collected individual surveys in their communities and incorporated them into their syntheses. To date, the Secretariat has received 93 individual surveys, regardless of the surveys included in the local syntheses. However, this method of consultation was not prioritized. The synodal path did not focus on the expression of individual opinions, to the exclusion of the exercise of synodality that only a group meeting and the use of the method of mutual listening can provide.
The number of syntheses sent, which the diocesan synthesis summarizes, does not coincide with the number of synodal groups reported to the Secretariat, which continues to hold meetings. However, the missing syntheses represent the voice of a relatively small number of participants.
Of the 415 parishes in the Archdiocese of Poznań, 276 have so far actively participated in the Synod. Nearly 6,300 people attended the meetings at the parish. Most of the participants in these meetings are practicing Catholics and involved in the life of the Church. A significant portion of them are members of communities, movements, councils and parish groups. Priests, catechists, catechists and ministers of Holy Communion also participated in these groups. A number of people living in non-sacramental relationships also took part. There was also a small group of those not affiliated with the Church or on the fringes of the Church, those who had performed an act of apostasy, and those who identify with the LGBT+ community.
It is significant that there was little participation in the Synod by people who are not involved in the life of the Church, although they attend liturgy regularly. A relatively small group were irregular practitioners.
530 people participated in meetings organized in church movements and communities. A very important group of participants were those involved in the pastoral care of people with disabilities. Some associations have opted for the internal path. Such a choice was made, among others, by the central authorities of Catholic Action in Poland. The diocesan synthesis thus lacks this very important voice of the laity. Although it should also be noted that some of the Catholic Action members participated in parish groups.
Priests attended meetings of various groups: parish and others. Several groups have been formed with the idea of meeting among the priests themselves. These, however, chose not to send syntheses to the Secretariat. The catechists did the same. They took part in parish and community synod groups, including as coordinators. However, they did not create separate groups dedicated only to catechists. The scale of participation to date by priests and catechists is not known.
Accurate information on the participation of consecrated persons is lacking, as syntheses of the groups formed within religious communities have been passed along an internal path to higher superiors. The exception is the synthesis provided by the Ursuline Sisters of the Heart of Jesus Confining. Communities of consecrated life, however, helped organize the synodal path in their communities. Many members of these communities have joined meetings organized by lay coordinators.
There have also been created the so-called. social groups that met outside church structures. The meetings of these groups were attended by people on the fringes of the Church, those not associated with the Church, and practicing and committed Catholics. A total of 125 people participated in the “community meetings.” The purpose of these meetings was to gather and listen to borderline, non-church affiliated people and members of other Christian denominations and religions in the context of the Synod. The participation of several Muslims was also significant. All community meetings were characterized by a mixed composition: practitioners and those involved in the Catholic Church also attended. The ecumenical meetings were attended by 13 people.
The synodal road was attended by 990 children and 852 teenagers. Some of the meetings were held as part of school catechesis, others in parishes and communities. Most of the young participants are practitioners and involved in the life of the Church. It has not yet been possible to reach more young people who, especially in recent years, have distanced themselves from the Church, stopped attending school religion classes or formally left the Church.
For participants in the synodal consultations, especially among lay people, the most important experience was discovering their subjectivity in the Church. The synodal path has created a new space for expressing opinions and experiences related to the faith and the Church. Everyone was free to say what they thought and to recount significant events in their own lives that shaped their attitudes and views. Synod participants felt treated with respect and listened to. Many of them stressed the value of the belief refreshed in them that the Spirit speaks through all of God’s people, laity and clergy. Like a refrain in the partial syntheses, the phrase: “For the first time in our history we have been given a voice in the Church.” is repeated.
According to Synod participants, lay people have so far been able to make their voices heard in various ways, if only by participating in pastoral groups, communities or councils. However, almost all participants in the meetings noted that the Synod was a unique experience: the voice of the laity was heard in a context broader than just their own parish or community. He was not just an advisory voice on what they were asked to do: the initiative to say what was said and written in the syntheses belonged to the Synod participants.
The document encompasses in this brief synthesis all that flowed out during the meetings of the synodal path of the Diocese of Radom. All ecclesial circles, such as parishes, communities of consecrated life, Catholic movements and associations, specialized ministries, as well as informal or not necessarily strictly confessional groups, were invited to the synodal meetings. There were also several more general meetings within the diocese, the fruits of the exchange of ideas of which are also reflected in this synthesis.
It is fair to say that not all the invited groups responded positively to this invitation, and among those that did, one could also see varying levels of commitment. To some extent, this was due to the distrust that could be seen among the faithful for such a way of working, caused by the association with the negatively perceived German synodal way and some controversy over the end of the Synod on Amazon. Over time, as we became more familiar with the proposed path and more deeply involved, the initial prejudice largely gave way to a positive attitude. This was also served by the way the meetings were conducted, which always included prayer, listening to the word of God, listening to each other and reflection related to the life of the Church, especially the local one. In order for the synodal path to actually be a journey together in reflection regarding the Church and to have a truly synodal character, we only accepted as mandatory the fruits of group work, at the diocesan level we did not decide to use unit surveys.
The variety and diversity of ways in which the meetings were conducted, as well as the multiplicity of topics touched upon, resulted in a wealth of insights and reflections. In order not to lose this diversity and richness as much as possible, we decided to present the results of the work of the diocesan synodal path in a form that deviates somewhat from the proposed ten leading themes proposed to the synodal groups in the preparatory documents, on which we also based our diocesan aids. We decided to combine these topics into larger groups so that it would be closer to the way the participants in the synod groups spoke. This was also due to the fact that certain issues were actually addressed residually, such as the topic of ecumenism. The rationale was usually the social and religious homogeneity of the areas of our diocese.
“Come, Holy Spirit. You who awaken new tongues and put words of life on our lips, preserve us so that we do not become a Church-museum, beautiful but silent with such a great past and such a small future. Come among us, so that in the synodal experience we do not let ourselves be overwhelmed by disappointment do not weaken the prophecy, do not reduce everything to idle discussions. Come Holy Spirit of love open our hearts to listen. Come Spirit of holiness renew God’s holy faithful people. Come Creator Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Amen.”
SYNTHESIS OF THE SYNODAL PROCESS OF THE DIOCESE OF RZESZÓW
/ the document reflects the diversity of views, insights and opinions expressed by participants in the synodal experience; it is faithful to the voices of diocesans and to what emerged from their discernment through consultation and dialogue; it does not want to offend anyone, it wants to show respect to all /.
The synodal path to which we have all been invited by Holy Father Francis is unique and challenging. As a space for meeting: lay people and clergy, although it raises fears and doubts, it encourages reflection, prompts in-depth reflection, and tips us towards fundamental questions: The synodal Church, proclaiming the Gospel is to “follow together?” How is this “going together” realized in the local Church? What steps does the Holy Spirit call us to take, so that by listening to each other we can open ourselves to creative dialogue that will deepen relationships and strengthen the sense of ecclesial community?
The experience of the Synod’s work at the diocesan level (October 2021/June 2022), confirmed the will of many diocesans to create a space for dialogue that unites in a fraternal spirit all sincerely concerned about the future of the Church. The need for the laity and clergy to listen to each other and, consequently, to be open to relationships, including a willingness to cooperate, proved to be an important demand, a vital desire of the participants in the synodal consultations. In the minds of many diocesans, the proposed synodal path was read as the beginning of a certain process, related to discerning the needs, tribulations and joys of the Church. The conviction of the indispensable assistance of the Holy Spirit in this process confirmed that the idea of the Synod cannot be classified into sociological studies, encapsulated in the framework of social debates and analysis. The synodal opinions gathered “unveiled” a spiritual sensitivity to the value of the ecclesial community, which needs to be taken care of, and which requires the constant attention of the laity and clergy – equals in the order of baptismal grace, although fulfilling their life mission differently due to their different vocations.
Regarding the consultation process, the Ordinary of the Diocese of Rzeszow, Bp Jan Wątroba, by decree dated October 11, 2021, appointed a diocesan synodal team. Dr. Rafal Czupryk PhD (lay person) and Rev. Dr. Rafal Flak (clergy person) were appointed coordinators of the synodal work. Within the framework of the assigned tasks, the coordinators appointed advisors from various areas of social life. On October 17, 2021, at the Cathedral Church in Rzeszow, Bishop Jan Wątroba presided over the Mass that inaugurated the diocesan phase of the synod under the theme “Toward a Synodal Church. Communion. Participation. Mission (2021-2023).” The WEucharist was also attended by Senior Bishop Kazimierz Górny, priests responsible for the various ministries in the diocese, religious sisters and lay representatives of Catholic movements and associations. The first synodal Mass, like the subsequent Eucharists, services and meetings, was crowned by a prayer for the synod to the Holy Spirit Adsumus Sancte Spiritus.
In order to make the synodal work more effective, which took place during the difficult period of the pandemic, concrete steps were taken from the end of October 2021. On October 30, 2021, a convention of Catholic movements, associations and foundations of the Diocese of Rzeszow was held at the Tabor Diocesan House. The purpose of the meeting was to present the communities involved in the life of the local Church, highlighting their role and importance in building a platform of understanding and cooperation for an active Catholic environment. The convention, attended by the Bishop of Rzeszow, was attended by more than sixty laity and clergy. At that time, the coordinators of the synodal work (R. Czupryk, Fr. R. Flak), presented the main ideas, assumptions and the course of the next stages of the synodal process at the diocesan level. The official diocesan website (www.synodrzeszow.pl) was unveiled; the personnel composition of the diocesan synodal team was presented; ways of contact (curial phone number, traditional and digital mailing address) were informed. At a further stage of the work, based on the synodal magisterium, 37 questions were prepared, grouped into 10 thematic areas, as a basis for consultation and synodal dialogue.
In accordance with the instructions (the methodology adopted), the synodal questions were distributed to lay counselors with a request to disseminate in their communities and monitor the progress of the consultation in their area. Participation in the consultations was voluntary, anonymous, only time-bound. The assumption was that every response was valid, opinion needed in a general key: “What is our Church, which we all make up?”. Simple, short, specific, sincere answers were encouraged. The relevant range of problem issues was also sent out to all parish priests of the Rzeszow diocese, where local consultations were held. Thus began the “synodal dialogue.”
Over the course of three months (November, December 2021 – January 2022, the difficult pandemic period), a total of three major contact meetings were held at the diocesan level (Rzeszow, Jaslo, Rzeszow) with the participation of several hundred people. The remaining consultations necessarily took the form of meetings in smaller groups, which totaled dozens. Among the forms of synodal dialogue were online meetings using digital communication platforms, electronic and traditional correspondence, and telephone contacts. It is estimated that the consultations were attended by approx. 4,500 diocesans. The collected material (opinions, comments, demands), was grouped accordingly and analyzed in detail. Synodal conclusions were derived from each thematic area.
One of the first observations that comes to mind in conclusion to the entire synodal work is the “palpable,” genuine concern of the participants in the consultation for “our Church.” What seems most significant in the whole consultation experience, as confirmed by the statements of diocesans, is the proposed formula, i.e. the creation of an opportunity for creative dialogue to occur, based on attentive listening to the opinion of others; based on kind attention to the person of the dialogue adversary, who is free to express himself, who “felt” heard, noticed, appreciated. The synodal dialogue has empowered the quiet, fearful, shy people. People who courageously express their positions in various situations or circumstances, he made them adopt a listening attitude, made them think, perhaps undergoing a revision of their own, sometimes dogmatic views. The synodal dialogue revitalized relations, stimulated debate about the real problems and concerns of “our Church,” and encouraged us to see the great good that is shared by faithful Christians precisely because they belong to “our Church.” The dialogue was not without noticeable contradictory statements and opinions towards each other, and was not without ambivalent convictions, critical of the idea of the synod itself. In the synodal material there were, undeniably, arguments related to the dubiousness of the “synodal way”: concern about Catholic doctrine (violation of the order of the magisterium) or unwarranted interference of the laity in the internal structures of the Church. However, these doubts were not significant; rather, what prevailed was the need to take up the synodal challenge and the will to continue the dialogue – to build its foundations – between the “living stones of Christ’s Church”: the laity and the clergy. Consequently, the synodal consultations emboldened both sides to be somewhat active – to reflect on the actual spiritual condition of “our Church.” Although it was difficult to start a dialogue at contact meetings (shyness made many uncomfortable), when it did occur, it took place in a climate of culture, respect, and mutual respect. He created a space for active listening.
In evaluating the entire synodal experience, it is also necessary to mention the many silent people who listened passively to the speeches or did not take advantage of the invitation to participate in the consultation at all, even digitally (email, anonymous synodal survey, snail mail). Thus, the conclusion emerges that “our Church” is indeed “silent” (meek), it needs a new stir (impulse) – it is like a “field hospital” that needs bold and competent witnesses to the Gospel Message And all of us: laity and clergy, are called, through participation in the processiesynodal proposed by the Holy Father, to humbly call on the constant assistance of the Holy Spirit to “teach us the way we should go and how we should follow it.
The Synod showed that we are all weak and sinful; that we are always threatened by disorder (chaos), which we ourselves can cause; that our ignorance (incompetence, faithfulness) can very easily lead us down the wrong path. Then we go astray, exposing ourselves to moral decline, straining the authority of “our Church,” which loses the luster of truth. And yet, as baptized believers: lay and clergy, we carry His things in our hearts, for this Church is indeed “our home.” Moreover, the synodal consultations confirmed on an ontological, ecclesial level that on our own, without the Holy Spirit, the laity and clergy will not accomplish, repair or build anything. On the contrary: it is only with the Holy Spirit that we will find our unity; with Him we will move toward salvation together; through His assistance we will not stray from the path of truth. He will not allow what is right and for the good of the Church to be lost, namely the belief in the possible unity of all believers in Christ. This observation, which discreetly emerges, flashes from the synodal consultations, although perhaps very theological, is the simplest definition of the synodal way. This path runs through human hearts, is a “dream and desire” of God, which, through obedience to His will, opens people of good will to the work of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, each of the laity and clergy, submitting obediently to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gets rid of fear towards the other person, gets rid of pretenses and lies, superiority and “mannerisms of chosenness” – they desire agreement and relationship, seek support and understanding, crave sincere conversation. By humbly opening up to God’s intuitions, then, nothing can be kept to oneself – the apostolic zeal of service only confirms the ability to build “bridges of dialogue.” The goal that crystallizes then is obvious: it is the welfare of the one (“our”) Church of Christ, which all baptized and believers want to take care of.
The experience of synodality at the diocesan level thus seems to confirm the described, deeply spiritual aspect of the synod. The intuition that the Holy Spirit invites the local Church to grow in synodality cannot be denied. The desire to listen, the need for dialogue and the building of relationships are extremely important aspects of the common cause of all the baptized, including those who, while remaining on the periphery of the Church, are still “implanted in the graft of the vine of the mystical community.” They need attention and gentleness; the wounded and wronged want spiritual closeness, they crave a tender look and a generous gesture of love.
 Francis, Address at the Opening of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme Toward a Synodal Church – Communion, Participation, Mission (Vatican Synodal Hall, October 9, 2021).
 “We stand before You, Holy Spirit, gathered in Your Name. With You only, who lead us; dwell in our hearts, teach us the way we should go and how we should follow it. We are weak and sinful; do not allow us to bring disorder. Don’t let ignorance lead us down the wrong path, or bias influence our actions. May we find our unity in You, so that we can walk together to eternal life, and so that we do not stray from the path of truth and what is right. For all this we ask You, who act in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, for ever and ever. Amen.”
 The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. foreign communications of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Synod Vademecum on Synodality. The official manual for listening and discernment in local churches: phase one (October 2021 – April 2022) in dioceses and episcopal conferences leading up to the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, Vatican 2021.
 Synodal Questions:
- In the Church, as the baptized, we are on the same path, shoulder to shoulder
- How do you understand the words: Church, is a community of people who “walk together”
- When we say “our Church,” who belongs to it?
- What individuals or groups remain on the margins of the Church?
- Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart, without prejudice
- How are the laity in the Church listened to, does the clergy count the voice of the laity, especially women and youth?
- Can we identify the biases and stereotypes that hinder us from listening to each other in the Church?
- In the Church, do we listen to the voice of people who have different views from our own?
- Is the voice of minorities, especially those experiencing poverty, marginalization or social exclusion, being heard in the Church?
- All are invited to speak with courage, combining freedom, truth and love
- What makes it possible or difficult to speak out boldly, honestly, without duplicity, about what is important to the Church in our Church?
- What is the Church’s voice in the media (not just Catholic media)?
- What is the voice of the media (not only Catholic) about the Church?
- “Walking together” is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word of God and celebrating the Eucharist. stia
- How does prayer, the Mass, inspire people to form a living community in the Church?
- How prayer, Mass. Are they the inspiration for the most important decisions in the Church?
- Are the laity involved in the liturgy (readings, psalm, prayer of the faithful), what fosters, what hinders?
- Synodality serves the mission of the Church, in which all are called to participate
- How are the laity involved in the apostolate in the Church? What favors, what hinders?
- How does the community support its members engaged in service to society (social and political involvement, in research and teaching, promotion of social justice, protection of human rights and concern for the common home-environment, etc.) ?
- How is the discernment of the specific mission of the laity in the Church carried out, who participates in it?
- Dialogue requires persistence and patience, enables mutual understanding
- What are the ways of dialogue within the local church?
- How are differences of opinion, conflicts and difficulties resolved?
- How do Catholic movements, associations, etc. cooperate with each other; cooperate also, for example, with neighboring dioceses, with religious communities?
- How does the Church dialogue with and learn from other institutions of society: the world of politics, economics, culture, civil society, the poor, etc., the difficult art of communication to make it creative and effective?
- Dialogue between Christians of different faiths, occupies a special place in the synodal journey
- Do we maintain relations with Christians of other faiths? What promotes, what hinders?
- What areas do they address?
- What are the fruits of cooperation?
- Synodal Church, a co-responsible Church
- How are the goals of lay involvement in the Church, the way to achieve them, determined?
- How is authority or governance exercised in the local church?
- How are teamwork and shared responsibility put into practice?
- How are lay ministries and taking responsibility for the Church promoted?
- Do we have fruitful experiences of synodality at the local level?
- How do Pastoral Councils in parishes and dioceses, Priests’ Councils, function?
- How can we promote a more synodal, communal approach to shared responsibility for the local church?
- In the synodal style, decisions are made on the basis of common discernment, flowing from a common obedience to the To the Holy Spirit
- What methods (procedures) do we use in decision-making in our Church? How can they be improved?
- How do we cultivate participation in decision-making in hierarchical structures?
- Do the Church’s decision-making methods help the laity listen? What is the relationship between consultation and decision-making, and how do we put this into practice?
- How do we promote transparency in decision-making in our Church and is there accountability for decisions made?
- How can we together: laity and priests, participate in spiritual discernment?
- The spirituality of “walking together” is an educational principle for the formation of the human and Christian person, families and communities
- How is our church community forming people to be more capable of “walking together,” meaning dialogue, listening to each other and engaging in dialogue?
- What formation is offered to support discernment of power in the Church in a synodal manner?
Each thematic area ended with a request to the consultation participants: “Think about it, discuss it, formulate concrete conclusions (cite a statement).” No one took advantage of the opportunity to submit video or audio recordings.
The Global Synod of the Holy Father Francis coincided in the Diocese of Sandomierz with the final phase of the Third Diocesan Synod (2017 – 2022). Accordingly, many of the issues identified by the Pope as a topic of discussion have already been discussed, resulting in the 946 resolutions of the Diocesan Synod. Regardless, as in the Universal Church as a whole, the necessary preparations have been made for a synod on synodality. Its diocesan stage began with a solemn Eucharist presided over by Sandomierz Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz on October 17, 2021. At the Cathedral Basilica. Subsequently, decanal leaders were appointed to coordinate meetings in each parish and decanate of the diocese.
The first meeting of synodal leaders was held on November 3, 2021. At the Theological Institute in Sandomierz.
Meetings were held in the various decanal groups and individual ministries of the diocese. During the meetings in the various groups, discussion took place on the following topics: Companions on the Journey, Listening, Taking the Floor, Celebrating, Shared Responsibility in a Common Mission, Dialogue in the Church, Authority and Participation, Discernment and Decision Making, Forming Synodality. The individual requests were sent to the synod secretariat. The individual conclusions are contained in the following report on the diocesan stage of the synodal groups’ work.
The diocesan stage of the Synod on synodality began on October 17, 2021. Mass celebrated under the presidency of Bishop Kazimierz Gurda in the Siedlce Cathedral. It was attended by coordinators of parish synodal teams elected during meetings of Parish Pastoral Councils. Consultations in the diocese were conducted at various levels:
Synodal meetings of the various groups, were basically held in three stages: celebration of the Word of God, small group work – sharing personal experience of the life of the Church, gathering experiences and insights as part of the whole synodal team. The foundation of each of these stages was listening to the Word of God. The fruits of all the meetings were collected and submitted to the synod secretariat. Along with individual voices, they gave an answer to the question of how “walking together” is realized in our local Church today, and what steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “walking together”?
A key goal for the diocese was to include as many people as possible in the synod, working in small groups. This was aimed at realizing a real dialogue and involving in the work of the synod people who, despite being in the Church, in practice have never been allowed to speak. In addition, a fundamental goal was to extend the synod’s reach to every parish community (“to get the Synod under the thatches”).
The basic method of work developed by the synodal team, working closely with the diocesan bishop, is meetings in small groups (max. 12 people) led by coordinators (one or two people). Each of the formed groups was invited to participate in four meetings, about a month apart, between December 2021 and April 2022. Each group was asked to prepare a note (according to an established scheme – cf. Appendix 1) of each meeting and forward it via email to the synodal team.
Small groups were established in: 1) parishes (coordinators were identified by parish priests), 2) movements and associations, as well as in specialized ministries (coordinators were identified by those responsible for the group), 3) among parish priests (vice-deacons were the coordinators), 4) among curate priests (coordinators were identified by priests from a particular area of the diocese), 5) among religious (the coordinators were identified by the referent for consecrated life), 6) among nuns (coordinators were identified by the referent for consecrated life), 7) among seminarians (coordinators were deans of alumni), 8) among young people (catechists were the coordinators) and 9) among catechists (the coordinators were deanery catechetical animators).
Only lay people were involved in synod meetings at the parish level. This was a deliberate move to make it easier for people who might feel uncomfortable with the presence of parish priests to open up. However, parish priests were responsible for appointing parish coordinators, and after the parish synod groups were completed, the coordinators were asked to continue the synod group meetings already with parish priests (see item 4). At the same time, parish priests were included in their respective synodal groups, working in parallel – so that they could dialogue with other priests in the group based on the same questions, and thus be prepared to engage in dialogue with parishioners after the cycle of four meetings.
If the number of people in a community willing to join synod meetings was higher than 12, more groups were formed. This has occurred in some parishes and in some movements and associations.
The implementation of the activities was carried out in the following stages:
- Appointment of synodal team – 17 X 2021. At the cathedral, the decretals were given to those who make up the synodal team.
- Preparation, based on the Synodal Vademecum by the synodal team, of materials for the various groups (appendix no. 1) (October 2021); creation of a separate Synod-related tab on the diocesan website, containing in electronic version the materials that were given in hard copy to the coordinators.
- Appointment of coordinators – correspondence sent to parish priests asking them to identify persons who will be entrusted with the task of parish group coordinator; similar letters (invitations) were sent to referents of consecrated life, pastors responsible for specialized ministries, to decanal catechesis animators, to moderators and leaders of movements, associations, formation groups operating in the diocese (October 2021).
- Organization of a series of informational meetings for coordinators: meeting of parish coordinators 6 XI 2021. – Świdnica – 350 people; meeting of deanal youth pastors with delegates, catechists teaching in secondary schools, representatives of movements, groups, communities, associations, formation and prayer confraternities 13 XI 2021. – Walbrzych – 120 people; meeting of representatives of the clergy (vice-deacons, vicars), representatives of consecrated life; catechesis animators – 27 XI 2021. – Walbrzych – 100 people.
- Blessing of participants of the synodal consultation group in parishes-December 5, 2021.
- Small group meetings (December 2021-April 2022); opportunity to send via snail mail or email reflections related to the Synod’s themes; opportunity to meet directly with the synodal team; ongoing telephone, email contact between the synodal team and group coordinators sending notes from consultation group meetings.
- Consultation meeting for coordinators of synodal groups – Bielawa, 19 II 2022. with the participation of 120 people, was aimed at allowing group coordinators to exchange experiences, clarify any doubts that may have arisen after the first meetings in small groups; participation in the meeting was voluntary. The key point of the meeting was the work in small groups (up to 10 people) animated by pre-appointed coordinators.
- Presynodal meeting (May 21, 2022), to which all synodal meeting participants were invited. The meeting had a liturgical celebration, which included a liturgy of the word and several testimonies from representatives of various synodal groups. An additional event associated with the presynodal meeting was a picnic to integrate all comers (about 500 people). Participants in the presynodal meeting were also given materials to encourage further meetings, with the ultimate goal of continuing the group’s work after the holiday season.
- Preparation of diocesan synthesis (June 2022).
Statistics on synodal groups:
- A total of 221 groups were formed, including 137 parish groups, 30 groups of movements, associations and specialized ministries, 19 youth groups, 12 groups of parish priests, 9 groups of catechists, 6 groups of consecrated persons, 6 groups of curate priests and 2 groups of alumni.
- Explanations were provided from several parishes where the teams had not been formed, as to why the group had not been established – reasons were pointed out both on the part of the laity (lack of volunteers) and the parish priest (lack of approval for the establishment of the team).
- A minimum of 3 notes were sent by 170 groups, which makes it possible to consider the people comprising them as active participants in the synodal work at the diocesan level. In some situations, the reasons for not submitting a set of notes were explicitly indicated – these included the health situation of the participants.
- In total, about 1,500 people participated in the synodal work, which is about 3 per mille of the diocese’s population and 1% of practitioners (dominicantes).
The notes were collected in folders organized by meeting number and group type. The synodal team and the diocesan bishop had access to the full content of the documents submitted.
The inclusion of people from the “periphery” in the meetings was conveyed to the coordinators as a special incentive. However, this has been successful in relatively few groups. The largest number of such people were involved – due to the nature of these groups – in the work of youth groups, coordinated by catechists.
- A very large response, the formation of groups in most parishes.
- For many people, the Synod was a completely new experience – not only of being heard in the Church, but in general of being able to meet and talk about matters of faith, testimony to which was present in the meeting notes.
- The enthusiastic attitude of many people, the desire to continue the work, to be more strongly integrated into the life of the Church. Identification with the work of the Synod is also evidenced by the attendance at the meetings (the coordinators’ meeting in Bielawa and the presynodal meeting).
- Sincerity of statements by participants in synod meetings understood as a sign of responsibility for the Church community. Even when the statements were about difficult, problematic issues.
- Experience the community of listening to the word of God and prayer during synod meetings.
- Despite the formal establishment of synodal groups, little practical interest in the Synod on the part of most priests, negligible commitment on their part to participate in the work of the Synod and to understand the spirit of the Synod (indifference); relatively little response (measured by the number of notes received) in these groups, but also in groups of consecrated persons.
- Reluctance to get involved in the work of the Synod on the grounds that “everything we would like to say will be swept under the proverbial rug anyway.”
- In some (few) groups, there was the practice of preparing notes based on answers to questions (opinions) sent, for example, by email, without a personal meeting and dialogue. This contradicted the postulated (in the diocese) idea of meetings, the key element of which was precisely to meet and encourage dialogue based on mutual listening.
- A sense of insecurity related to concerns about the willingness of participants in synodal meetings to change doctrine (this was primarily related to associations with the German synodal way: “the concern is that what is happening in Germany within the framework of the so-called synodal way could spread to the whole Church”). The situation is highlighted by one group of curate priests writing: “the very fact that many clergy were (and are) afraid of what the Synod will bring speaks for itself. It is saddening that a man (a believer) who is supposed to be the way of the Church instills fear. How are the faithful supposed to feel responsible for their communities (not just when there is something to be done or cleaned up) when they feel they have no influence over many things.” At the same time, the meeting notes clearly indicate that such concerns were completely unfounded.
- Doubts about the conduct of the Synod, the way the questions were formulated. One memo from parish groups, for example, conveyed that “the questions are too general. […] I thought that we were going to talk about what was important at the synod meetings,” that the answers “would not bring anything, and nothing would change,” or that “the synod meetings to themselves, and the conclusions of the synod are already ready and our comments will not affect them.” However, these were isolated voices on a diocesan scale, usually also isolated on a group scale.
Synod Bishops (2021-2023) i V Synod Diocese Tarnów
The Diocesan Consultation for the Synod of Bishops (2021-2023), by decision of the Bishop of Tarnów, has been incorporated into the ongoing Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów. The conclusions developed during the preparatory and main period of the 5th SDT are thus reflected in the following responses to the 10 Vatican issues. In the humility of listening to the Holy Spirit, from the very beginning of the convening of the 5th SDT, the diocesan synodal work was intuitively oriented according to the assumptions and directions that we find expressed todayexplicite among others in Synod vademecum on synodality, Preparatory Document of the 16th Ordinary General Synod of Bishops and the document of the International Theological Commission Synodality in the life and mission of the Church. As it began its work, the 5th SDT relied on current canon law, the Instruction on Diocesan Synods of March 19 , 1997 , the inspiration of Pope Francis in his speech “Synodality” a constitutive dimension of the Church , and other documents and texts developing the idea of synodality . Thus, the inclusion of the diocesan stage of the Synod of Bishops (2021-2023) in the ongoing work of the Fifth SDT is fully justified and represents its crowning achievement and an authentic synthesis not only of the synodal conclusions, but above all of all synodal activities showing the beauty of the Church community, which, according to the motto of the Fifth SDT, is to be after Christ. Thus, it is an integral part of the following synthesis from the consultation of the Synod of Bishops (2021-2023) to show in this introduction the synodality of the Church of the Apostles within the framework of the entire 5th SDT.
On December 14, 2016, the Bishop of Tarnów convened the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, beginning its preparatory period. Bishop Leszek Leszkiewicz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Tarnów, was appointed Chairman of the Preparatory Commission. It was a time of intensive diocesan consultations, collecting opinions, voices, suggestions, what the 5th SDT should deal with in detail. The Preparatory Commission divided into Teams prepared the Final Document of the Preparatory Period based on the results of this consultation, which was the starting point for the work of the Synodal Thematic Commissions. Members of the Commission, moreover, went to all the deaneries in the diocese to prepare the entire diocese for the work in the main period of the 5th SDT through meetings for future synodal teams. Meetings were also held for priests within the deaneries to explain what the Synod is and to present the Synod’s action plan. The preparatory period also saw the development of a prayer for the Fifth SDT (a longer and shorter version), a synod hymn, a synod logo, synod bylaws, a website, and social media profiles. It was also a fully synodal period, as the focus was not just on documents, but on developing the principles of synodality. For example, the Team for the Development of the National Health System. At the time, the Family Council developed the idea of cooperation of all communities with the charism of marriage and family, promoting it under the slogan “Family of Communities” m. in. at the Diocesan Festival of the Family in Stary Sacz and issuing information books that went to every family in the diocese during the pastoral visit. In addition, during the synodal period dedicated to the family, a series of broadcasts was aired on RDN Malopolska and RDN Nowy Sacz radio presenting all communities with a family charism operating in the diocese.Through the channels of the diocesan youth TV channel Sinai.tv were also published Advent synodal retreats for families, films about each community for couples and families operating in the diocese, spots showing the idea of synodation and encouraging the completion of synodal surveys, including surveys directly responding to the consultations of the Synod of Bishops (2021-2023).
Period V of the main SDT, which began on April 21, 2018. From the solemn Inauguration at the Cathedral, it is a time of synodal work par excellence. Pope Francis has given his pastoral blessing for this work, thus responding to the request of the Bishop of Tarnów in a telegram to the Holy Father on January 23, 2018: “With filial devotion, therefore, we wish to ask Your Holiness for the Apostolic Blessing for the duration of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, assuring unity with Rome and ompraying for the ministry of Your Holiness for the good of the Church.”. The words of the Apostolic Blessing emphasized celesynods: “[…] the expected renewal will deepen the bonds of unity between the shepherds of the diocese and the priests and faithful, strengthen families, activate parish life and spread the work of evangelization. May it confirm everyone in the spirit of faith, awaken the desire to strive for holiness, and revitalize the awareness of belonging to the universal Church and communion with the Successor of St. Peter.”
The main period of the 5th SDT has been divided by the Bishop of Tarnów into three main stages, during which consultations and discussions on family, parish and evangelization have been and are being undertaken. In order to show the essence of synodism, i.e., starting all discussion, consultation, listening to each other by listening first to the Holy Spirit, a monthly celebration of Synodal Sundays was started on each last Sunday of the month, during which the homily preached develops the monthly synodal theme. A monthly series of articles in the Tarnów Sunday Visitor was also conceived to explain the topic. Also providing an introduction to the depth of the synodation was a synodal retreat for priests with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the Higher Seminary in Tarnow. Demonstrating what the Synod is, there was also a Forum of Catholic Movements and Associations held in Tarnow dedicated to the subject.
During the main period, the various Synodal Commissions began their work, along with a broad group of consultants appointed by the individual Commission chairmen. At least one Parish Synodal Team has been formed in each parish, with a broad representation of the entire parish. From the very beginning, the premise of the PZS was the idea of representativeness of the entire parish community. Thus, the PZS is supposed to “bring” the opinions, suggestions and proposals of the whole parish to the monthly meetings, undertake discussion on them and, after the meeting, provide information on the conclusions reached. In addition, these applications are officially collected by the PZS secretary and sent to the decanal relator, who prepares the decanal synthesis. The Relatordecanal then sends it to the Synod Secretariat, which compiles a diocesan synthesis and sends it to the VSDT Main Commission.PZS responds monthly to consultation questions (mini-surveys) sent by the individual Synodal Commissions working on the issues. This way of working has the following benefits: it involves the entire diocese in the work of the Synod, it provides a “feedback loop” between the work of the Synodal Commissions and the realities of parish life in the diocese, and it expresses fully the idea of the Synod. In addition, for PZS members, each monthly meeting is a formation toward a deeper understanding of the Church and related issues, which is very evident in the testimonies of PZS members at the time of the synod.
During the synodal process, a multitude of meetings were held and are still being held for various groups, movements and associations. In addition to the cyclical Plenary Sessions, meetings of the Main Commission and Synodal Commissions of the 5th SDT, meetings of the PZS, of which there have been many thousands within the diocese over the years, synodal meetings have been held for the following groups, among others: Priests’ Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council, priests at priestly congregations, family life counselors, Catholic Action, Association of Catholic Families,organists, catechists, consecrated persons, senior citizens, Pastoral Care of the Deaf, decanal teachers’ chaplains, journalists, seminarians, decanal religious visitators, decanal marriage and family pastors, deans, vice-deans, participants in the Youth Forum, participants in the 11th Formation Forum, Association of Fathers in Defense of Children and Family Integrity,extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion., decanal synodal relators, those responsible for parish family counseling centers, the Domestic Church.
- Synodal meetings (all PZS and all others): ca. 19000
- People directly involved in the Synod (PZS and other bodies): ca. 11000
- Preparatory Commission meetings: 11 Main Commission Meetings: 43 Synodal Sundays: 51
- Individual PZS meetings (number of months): 40
- Number of sets of consultation questions for PZS/miniankiet: 40
- Number of individual applications: 472
- Number of Synodal Commissions: 14 (including the Main Commission)
- Synodal Commissions Meetings: Bylaws of the 5th SDT commit to meetings every 2 months
 Cf. Bishop of Tarnów Andrzej Jeż, Message of the Bishop of Tarnów for Synodal Sunday – October 17
2021, (ed.) Rev. Piotr Cebula, Bulletin of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, 3(2021), pp. 15n.
 Cf. Bishop Andrzej Jeż of Tarnów, “The Church after the model of Christ.” Pastoral letter of the Bishop of Tarnów announcing the 5th Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów [w:] (ed.) Rev. A. Dudek, Rev. P. Cebula, Bulletin of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, 1(2017), pp. 5-11.
 Calendar of the preparatory period of the 5th Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów [w:] (ed.) Rev. A. Dudek, Rev. P. Onion
Bulletin of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, 2(2019), pp. 103.
 Telegram to the Holy Father in connection with the 5th Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów [w:] (ed.) Rev. A. Dudek, Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów. Inauguration, Tarnów 2018, pp. 7.
 Rev. A. Dudek, Preparations for the inauguration of the 5th Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, Currenda, 2(2018)168, pp. 204.
- On September 29, 2021, Bishop Wieslaw Smigiel of Torun appointed a diocesan delegate for the diocese. The Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and the Diocesan Team for the Synod of Bishops. Synod: 9 people
- On October 6, 2021, Bishop Wieslaw Smigiel of Torun sent a special word to diocesans on the occasion of the beginning of the Synod of Bishops
- October 17, 2021, Mass, inaugurating the diocesan stage of preparation for the Synod, Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Toruń
- October 2021: preparation of synodal materials, which were distributed to parishes, groups, movements and communities and were placed in a special tab on the website of the Diocese of Toruń: Word of the Bishop of Toruń; general information on the Synod- calendar; composition of the Diocesan Synod Team. Synod; the text of the Prayer for the Fruits of the Synod; indications for the synodal path in the parish; indications for the synodal path in communities, movements and associations and other synodal groups; indications for the synodal path lived individually; the scheme of the Liturgy of the Word, which is part of the synodal meeting
- November 3 to 5, 2021: District Meetings of Priests- dedicated to the organization of synodal meetings in parishes
- November 7, 2021: Synodal Sunday in the Diocese of Toruń, a day of prayer in parishes for the Synod
- November 12, 2021: meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Toruń- dedicated to the conduct of the Synod in the diocese
- April 25 and 26, 2022: District Meetings of Priests- dedicated to the course of the Synod in the Diocese of Torun; conference by Fr. dr. hab. Tomasz Wielebski, prof. UKSW:Synodality a challenge for the Church in Poland
- May 7, 2022: synodal meeting of members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Torun, presided over by Bishop Wieslaw Smigiel.
- Synodal questionnaires were sent from 74 parishes, there are 196 parishes in the diocese
- separate questionnaires were sent by about 100 groups and communities and various circles existing in the diocese; members of groups and communities often took part in meetings as part of parish synodal meetings
- 87 individual synodal questionnaires were completed electronically
In the Archdiocese of Warmia, the synodal work was based on the already functioning institutions of the local Church. The body responsible for coordinating the synod, in addition to the coordinator appointed by the Archbishop Metropolitan of Warmia, was the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which established the directions for consultation activities during the meeting at the beginning of the Synod. Their foundation was to be laid by parish pastoral councils, which were tasked with conducting consultations at the parish level. The Archbishop addressed a pastoral letter to diocesans at the beginning of Advent, in which he encouraged them to take part in the consultation phase. Special booklets were also prepared, which included a catechism explanation of what the Church is and its essence, encouragement to undertake their own synodal deliberations, as well as four supporting questions to help the faithful participate in the consultation phase. They sounded as follows:
- What is the Church for you?
- Is the Church an important community for you?
- How do you find yourself in the Church and your parish?
- What opportunities and dangers do you see for the Church community?
These brochures were distributed to the faithful before the start of the pastoral visit, along with the encouragement that the traditional post-Christmas time of visiting priests in the homes of their parishioners should also be an opportunity to share their own reflections about the Church based on the above questions, on which this document will also be based.
Catholic movements and associations, high school students, for whom a special catechesis on synodality was prepared, were also invited to participate in the Synod, and a special email box was set up where anyone could send their reflections related to the Church and thus take part in the consultation phase.
The diocesan consultation phase of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Archdiocese of Warmia was attended by about half of the parishes, many catechists, Catholic movements and associations, specialized ministries, as well as a great number of the faithful individually, mainly through e-mail or letter contact. These were very often non-practicing people who had drifted away from the Church community at some stage in their lives, and the Synod became an opportunity for them to reflect on and share their relationship to the faith and the Church.
The launch of the synodal work and the various stages of the diocesan consultation phase attracted the interest of the local media, both Catholic and secular, which made it possible to reach more people, especially those who are not practicing Catholics.
In the Archdiocese of Warsaw, the 16th Synod of the Church of God began on October 17, 2021. With a solemn celebration of the Eucharist at the Warsaw Archcathedral. It was attended by dean priests and contacts from most parishes in the diocese. Three diocesan contact persons were appointed: a clergyman and two laymen. Synodal teams have been established in each parish, and consultation work has begun. Between a few and a dozen people participated in the work of the parish teams. The bishops met with representatives of these teams during their caroling visits to the deaneries. In addition to the synodal work undertaken in the parishes, consultations were held at the diocesan level (six meetings) and at the level of church associations. Responses to synodal questions compiled by individuals were also sent to the synod secretariat.
The diocesan document was created based on the principle of subsidiarity. An account of the synodal work in the parishes was prepared by the parish priests with their contacts. The parish documents were sent to the dean priests, who, together with the decanal children’s and youth ministries, developed the decanal documents. These, in turn, were sent to the Diocesan Synod Secretariat. Diocesan contact persons and members of the Diocesan Synod Secretariat worked on the diocesan document, taking into account the results of decanal and diocesan consultations, as well as materials sent to the secretariat from various church circles and individuals. After the proposal was submitted to the Archbishop Metropolitan of Warsaw and the project was approved by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, the diocesan document received its final form and was presented at the closing celebration of the diocesan stage of the synod at the Archcathedral of Warsaw, on June 24, 2022.
The Synodal Report on the Synodality of the Warsaw-Praga Diocese contains the most important conclusions of the synodal work done in the Warsaw-Praga Diocese. The DWP Synod Secretariat received: 468 questionnaires filled out communally, giving the name of the community, the number of members filling out the questionnaire and their ages; 634 questionnaires filled out by individuals giving their details (name, address, parish, age, gender) and 891 questionnaires which were filled out anonymously. A total of 1,993 questionnaires were received by the DWP Synod Secretariat and some 12,552 of our diocesans participated in completing them.
The analysis of the community questionnaires showed that the community (movement, group in the parish) is the place where the faith of those completing the questionnaire is realized most fully. For believers, communities are very important in the life of the modern Church, and they appreciate their functioning and thriving activities in the diocese. Significantly, for some people the community is even more important than the parish, so the danger of leaders, communities and their members becoming too separated from the Church or parish as a whole is apparent. Sometimes religious life in the communities takes on a character separate from the parish, the communities become peculiar islands of faith, and for some respondents, activity in the community takes on more of a psychotherapeutic and less of a typically religious character.
In the surveys, it came out that the communities are “small churches” for their members, pursuing those goals that the parish and universal Church do not. Mainly it’s about the need to speak out, to show your faith, to sacrifice for others, and (very strongly) the need for acceptance in the group. Communities fulfill strictly religious needs – they are places for prayer, recollection, formation, discernment and making life decisions, pondering the Word of God, contemplation, seeking closeness with God and family and community members, a space for celebrating religious rituals.
In the studies of community surveys, a picture emerges of a decentralized Church, in which the community appears to its members as the most important. The lack of communities in many cases would result in parishioners having less faith and even leaving the Church, as many times many people do not realize themselves in the Church outside the community. In the community everyone knows each other, there is anonymity in the parish. Surveys have shown that in parishes there is also a phenomenon of competition between communities (especially for the priest, his interest and activity). The communities themselves tend to have a cooperative atmosphere, although there are conflicts and differences of opinion there as well.
Those who filled out the questionnaire individually are mostly people who are not members of communities, but are deep believers. The questionnaires show that they have much lower expectations and needs for the parish, its activities and actions than people from the communities. They expect the parish to be well (properly) prepared to carry out pastoral tasks and religious rites. Lack of membership in communities is not caused by dislike of communities but rather by lack of time, which has to do with professional activity, raising children or health. In-depth formation and spirituality is not necessary for these people. They are generally satisfied with what they receive at the parish level, and do not have exorbitant expectations of priests and parishes. They realize their religiosity mainly based on attendance at Mass on Sundays and during important church celebrations.
This group of people did not disclose their data in the surveys. The surveys show that this anonymity was not due to dislike of the Catholic Church, attacks on the Church or priests, resentment or aggression directed at anyone. This type of questionnaire was filled out by people who do not find themselves in the current structures of the Catholic Church, and identify least with what the parishes of our diocese are doing, offering and living today. This distance is due, as they themselves note, on the one hand to their lack of religious awareness and desire to be involved in building up their parish, and on the other hand to their inability to find their way into church structures, which are often seen as closed and inaccessible.
Inaugurated at the Vatican on October 9-10, 2021, by Pope Francis, the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church. Communion, Participation, Mission,” became a unique event. The Holy Father invited all people to speak on issues affecting the Church. Everyone could join the discussion; no one could feel left out or excluded.
October 17, 2021 The inauguration of the synod in the Diocese of Wloclawek took place. Mass. The diocesan bishop, Krzysztof Wętkowski, presided at the Cathedral Basilica in Włocławek. In his homily, he stressed that the synod that is beginning is about hearing what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today. The diocesan coordinator of the synod was appointed Fr. Andrzej Tomalak, who invited the following to work together s. Oliwia Kusek SCM and Hanna Krzemieniewska.
The idea, main goals and deadlines related to the work of the synod in the diocese were communicated to the deanery priests during a meeting attended by Msgr. Krzysztof Wętkowski, on October 27, 2021. The dean priests were asked to pass on the messages they received to the parish priests and vicars in their deaneries. They were also invited to take on the duties of decanal synodal coordinators. Animators of pastoral groups also received written invitations to join the synod’s work. A tab has been set up on the diocesan website, where basic information on the synodal process is posted, as well as reports on meetings of synodal groups in the Diocese of Wloclawek. An e-mail box has also been set up to facilitate contact.
Numerous synodal groups have been formed in the diocese.
Synodal discussion was held on issues proposed by the Synod Vademecum. Based on the topics identified there, synodal questions tailored for young people were prepared. 21 open-ended questions were created. Questionnaires for catechists were similarly modified.
What shone through from the first accounts of synod meetings was uncertainty about whether the voice of the laity, who describe themselves as “ordinary people,” would really be heard and whether they could freely express their opinions even if their voice was critical of the priest or the reality observed in the Church. Over time, the participants in the meetings gained confidence and trust in each other. Midway through the synod, the fact that each participant in the synod meetings had the opportunity to speak and was not afraid to express their comments was pointed out as an important fruit of the event, although “initially there were concerns about whether anyone would really listen to us, or maybe it would just be a ‘tick off’ event.” They also emphasized the wide variety of issues raised during the discussion. – “These were fruitful meetings that strengthened the individual communities,” added a participant in the synod meeting.
During the Mass for the opening of the synod, October 10, 2021, Pope Francis said, among other things: “Holding the Synod means walking the same road together, wandering together. Let’s look at Jesus, who on the road first meets the rich man, then listens to his questions, and finally helps him discern what to do to have eternal life. Meet, listen, discern: these are the three verbs of the Synod that I would like to focus on.”
Thus, looking at the first premise of the synod, it can be said with all responsibility that it has been achieved. After two years of isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, people began to meet and talk to each other: honestly, openly, without fear or criticism. From the accounts of the priests and lay coordinators, one could learn that with the following weeks and months, interest in the synod grew on the part of the laity, who themselves sought contacts and opportunities to speak. This was obvious evidence that the laity felt responsible for the Church, felt that they were in the Church and were the Church.
In some parishes, it has been possible to invite people who are involved in the life of the parish, as well as those who are indifferent or even hostile to the Church, to join the table. It was an opportunity to express their doubts, as well as to clarify misunderstandings, which were primarily based on personal animosities and injuries. The synod therefore became an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings. All it took was a little goodwill from all sides of the dialogue.
The direction and progress of the synodal work was presented at the second meeting of the dean priests, which took place on March 17, 2022. At the Higher Seminary in Włocławek. The Diocesan Bishop also attended this meeting.
In addition to two meetings at the diocesan level, the diocesan coordinator attended several meetings of parish groups. There were also individual consultations with coordinators of parish and inter-parish groups and individuals.
It is noteworthy that the meetings of the synodal groups always began with Mass. and/or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
By the end of May this year. 128 syntheses were submitted to the synod secretariat of the Diocese of Wloclawek. Among them are collective syntheses of deanery, parish, communities operating in the diocese, and 21 individual syntheses, among which is the voice of Senior Bishop Wieslaw Mering, who expressed the hope that “the synod will revive the faith of God’s people that in the Holy Scriptures the Church hears the voice of the living God from Sinai and the voice of Jesus Christ – its Founder and Lord.” Bishop Wloclaw Senior reminded that the task of the Church is to uphold Tradition and care for the family. He also stated that “the laity today defend the Gospel, preaching it selflessly and zealously; they defend their pastors; many times they embarrass the clergy with their courage and uncompromisingness.”
“…The church is like an apartment with separate rooms that do not even connect to each other by walls.” So begins the description of the experience of the Church expressed at the synodal meeting of the youth of the Archdiocese of Wroclaw within the framework of the Youth Parliament. “In each room different groups are gathered: young people, non-believers, priests, parishioners, the bishop. Theoretically they are together, but in fact – separately. Between the two is a cold corridor that no one wants to go out into, for fear of losing the warmth of their room. There are also people in the cold corridor. Since they cannot enter any room, they start to leave the apartment. What makes the apartment look like this is the lack of willingness to understand others. The apartment is in need of renovation. Restoration is about building roads that lead to Christ. It can only be carried out by people who notice the current situation.”
In turn, the “inspiring image” repeatedly recurring in conversations among Olesnica parishioners was that of a train. “Together we are riding in a train whose destination is salvation. The destination is not visible, as it is on a train. But it’s probably worse – those sitting on the train often don’t know where they’re going. What’s going on that some people are getting out of it? Why aren’t the others standing on the platform joining us? Why don’t they join – here the answer is quite simple – because they don’t envy us. Our life, looking at average Catholics, is not an encouragement to anyone. Catholics, except perhaps in small communities, are not joyful people, they are not the kind of mutually loving people you want to be with. So if the question is asked, “who is asking us to walk together?” – then the answer is: no one is asking us. Yes, there are compartments on this train happy and aware of the destination. All the rest are driving out of habit, just a kind of Catholic culture, increasingly unfashionable anyway.”
The reflections collected below largely agree with the intuitions presented in the metaphors. They are the fruit of prayers and small group meetings that took place during the first stage of the synodal process in the Wroclaw archdiocese in many parishes, movements and communities, at the Synod Secretariat itself, as well as during diocesan-wide meetings for coordinators of the synodal process, catechists, a day of recollection for women’s religious congregations, meetings of the Pastoral Council, the Priestly Council and the presynodal assembly. A small part of the syntheses that flowed to the Secretariat was a compilation of the results of surveys conducted in some parishes and schools.
Individual letters and e-mails sent to the address of the Synod Secretariat in the Wroclaw archdiocese were also taken into account in the preparation of the diocesan synthesis. A total of 138 syntheses (68 – urban parishes, 47 – rural parishes, 18 – communities and groups, 5 – individual parishes) were submitted to the Synod Secretariat for 298 parishes.
From the beginning of the synodal process in the archdiocese, meetings in small groups, open to all willing, preceded by prayer and meditation on the Word of God, were encouraged so that people of different states and at different stages of the journey together could hear each other, and syntheses were the fruit of discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit together. In places where these encouragements have met with a positive response, the process of building a community ready to take on the burden of mutual understanding has begun.
The diocesan inauguration of the synodal process took place on October 24, 2021. As part of the plenary session of the First Synod of the Diocese of Zielona Góra and Gorzów. During it, diocesan synod participants – after praying together – undertook reflection in smaller groups on the issues identified in the Vademecum of the Synod of Bishops.
The same material was also reflected on in parishes throughout the diocese. Parish consultations were held in November and December 2021. These took the form of open meetings of parish pastoral councils, which could be attended by anyone interested in becoming involved in the synodal process. Written reports of the parish meetings were submitted to the deans, who in January and February 2022. organized decanal consultations with the participation of clergy and lay faithful representing each parish in the decanate. At the same time, reflection within the framework of the synodal process was also undertaken, within the framework of their own structures, by some church movements and associations operating in the diocese. For those who, for various reasons, were unwilling or unable to participate in the synodal consultations described above, an opportunity for individual reflection was created by posting relevant aids on the diocesan website.
The material collected in all these consultations was forwarded to the members of the diocesan pastoral council, who, after reviewing it, expressed their suggestions for the content that should be included in the diocesan synthesis, at a meeting on May 11, 2022.
Based on these indications, a diocesan synthesis was developed and presented to the public on June 20, 2022. At the next plenary session of the First Synod of the Diocese of Zielona Góra and Gorzów. The diocesan synthesis was then made available to all interested parties by publishing it on the diocesan website.
The Field Ordinariate in Poland inaugurated the diocesan stage of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on October 17, 2021. The Rev. Capt. Dr. Rafal Kaniecki was appointed diocesan coordinator. The Synodal Team of the Field Ordinariate was established, consisting of 6 men, 5 women, 3 priests and 1 nun. Due to the peculiarities of the particular Church, the parish coordinators became chaplains – parish priests, chaplains of Polish military contingents, military representations, pastoral centers, organizational units of the Border Guard, the State Protection Service, the Police and the Railway Protection Guard. After initial preparations, “parish consultations” were launched on November 27, 2021, and lasted until March 31, 2022. During the meetings, the topics proposed by the “Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality” were most often discussed. The meetings ended with the development of syntheses by the above-mentioned chaplain-coordinators. Subsequently, decanal syntheses were developed, which became the source material for the working version of the diocesan synthesis. The final version of the synthesis was preceded by consultations with the Synodal Team of the Field Ordinariate, the Deans and the College of Consultors, as well as with all the faithful by posting it on the Ordinariate’s website. In addition, a synodal questionnaire was prepared, available both electronically on the Ordinariate’s website and in print in the monthly magazine “Our Service,” including the following questions: “What is the Church for you? What is valuable to you in the community’field diocese’? What is missing from the Church for you? How do you understand the role and involvement of the laity in the Church? How do you encourage the return of those who have left? What do you expect from Christians in a uniformed environment? What questions do you have about the future of the Church that you would like the Synod to answer?” About 300 people, rather middle-aged and from smaller towns, responded to the questionnaire. Their opinions are also included in this synthesis. On average, 4 meetings for 12-13 people were held in each parish/place (about 80 places in total), which translates into an estimated 4,000 people. Thus, a total of about 4,300 people participated in the synodal process, which is about 1.1% of the faithful of the Field Ordinariate in Poland.
Participants in the consultation included soldiers (including those on foreign missions), civilian employees, officers of the Border Guard, the State Protection Service, the Railway Protection Guard, the Police, retirees, families, school and academic youth, cadets, supporters of military parishes, and religious people. In addition, people involved in various church movements and associations, such as the Light-Life Movement, the Domowy Kościół (Home Church), the Radio Maryja Family, the Rosary Roses, Catholic Action, the Confraternity of St. John the Baptist, and the St. John of God. These include the St. James the Elder Apostle Church at the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army, Bible study groups, lectors, members of parish councils, catechists, extraordinary ministers, supporters of the so-called “Church of St. James”. traditionalism.
The synodal meetings generally took place in an atmosphere of friendliness and openness. However, there was no shortage of diverse opinions, including critical and sometimes heated discussions. Participants taking part were at different levels of involvement in the life of the Church and at different levels of religious knowledge, ranging from the deeply believing and frequently practicing to those on the “periphery” of faith and Church life. Some participants did not identify the synod as a means to change the Church’s teaching, but to modify its functioning and further development. Others expressed concern that the synod would become a pretext for radical doctrinal changes. In fact, a genuine concern for the welfare of the Church could be seen in all of them.
List of synodal topics
W Kościele i w społeczeństwie jesteśmy na tej samej drodze, ramię w ramię.
Kiedy mówimy „nasz Kościół”, to kogo mamy na myśli? Kto w naszym Kościele „podąża razem”? Kto oczekuje, aby bardziej ku niemu wyjść i zaprosić go do wspólnej drogi wiary? Jakie osoby lub grupy są zaniedbane i nie objęte troską o to, by iść razem drogą wiary i stanowić jedną wspólnotę Kościoła?
Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.
Słuchanie jest pierwszym krokiem, ale wymaga otwartego umysłu i serca, bez uprzedzeń.
Czy umiemy słuchać siebie nawzajem w naszym Kościele? Czyj głos jest pomijany lub za mało słyszany? Z jakiego powodu? Czy potrafimy określić uprzedzenia i stereotypy, które utrudniają nam słuchanie innych? Czy z otwartym umysłem i sercem umiemy wsłuchiwać się w poglądy inne niż nasze; także osób spoza wspólnoty Kościoła?
Wszyscy są zaproszeni do mówienia z odwagą i zaufaniem, to znaczy łącząc wolność, prawdę i miłość.
Czy w Kościele nasz/mój głos ma znaczenie i czy znajdujemy przestrzeń do wypowiedzi i bycia wysłuchanym? Czy czujemy, że przemawiający w naszym imieniu faktycznie reprezentują także nas? Jaki mamy na to realny wpływ?
„Wspólna droga” jest możliwa tylko wtedy, gdy opiera się na wspólnotowym słuchaniu Słowa Bożego i sprawowaniu Eucharystii.
Czy liturgiczne celebracje i doświadczenie wspólnotowej modlitwy w naszym Kościele mają realny wpływ na moją/naszą praktykę codziennego życia: decyzje, wybory, inspiracje? Czy czujemy się zaproszeni do czynnego (praktycznego) zaangażowania w liturgię, czy też pozostawia nam się rolę „widza”? Czy sami pielęgnujemy w sobie pragnienie zaangażowania? Czy przeżywanie liturgii umacnia i motywuje mnie/nas do podjęcia misji ewangelizacji?
Synodalność służy misji Kościoła, do udziału w której powołani są wszyscy jego członkowie.
Czy mamy świadomość, że jako ochrzczeni wszyscy jesteśmy powołani do misji ewangelizowania? Co nas hamuje w podejmowaniu tej misji i wspieraniu w niej innych: w nas samych, w środowisku życia, we współczesnej kulturze?
Dialog wymaga wytrwałości i cierpliwości, ale umożliwia także wzajemne zrozumienie.
W jaki sposób w naszym Kościele rozwiązywane są konflikty i trudności wynikające z różnicy poglądów, dążeń, oczekiwań? Czy dialog jest naszym sposobem wychodzenia z tych problemów? Jak w tym kontekście wygląda współpraca różnych instytucji, organizacji i ruchów kościelnych? Czy umiemy uczyć się form dialogu od instytucji niekościelnych? Czy dialog jest również przestrzenią naszego spotkania z wyznawcami innych religii i zniewierzącymi?
Dialog między chrześcijanami różnych wyznań, zjednoczonymi przez jeden chrzest,
zajmuje szczególne miejsce na drodze synodalnej.
Jakie relacje ma nasza wspólnota kościelna z członkami innych tradycji chrześcijańskich i wyznań? Co nas łączy i jak razem podążamy? Jakie owoce przyniosło nam wspólne podążanie? Jakie są trudności? Jak możemy zrobić następny krok we wspólnym podążaniu naprzód?
Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.
Kto w naszym Kościele podejmuje decyzje i czego one dotyczą? Czy jest to wyłącznie forma indywidualnego przewodniczenia czy jest też w tym wymiar wspólnotowy? Czy istnieje współpraca zespołowa i czy w tym kontekście promowane jest zaangażowanie świeckich, np. w radach duszpasterskich i ekonomicznych, w kierowaniu wspólnotami? Czy jesteśmy gotowi podjąć się współodpowiedzialności za podejmowane decyzje i działania?
Na drodze synodalnej podejmujemy decyzje poprzez rozeznawanie tego, co Duch Święty mówi przez całą naszą wspólnotę.
Jak rozumiemy to, że Kościół jest hierarchiczny a nie demokratyczny? Czy w tak zorganizowanym Kościele widzimy miejsce dla wspólnego rozeznawania i podejmowania decyzji całego ludu Bożego wraz z pasterzami? Jak możemy wzrastać we wspólnotowym rozeznawaniu duchowym?
Synodalność pociąga za sobą otwartość na zmiany, formację i ciągłe uczenie się.
Jak formowane są osoby, zwłaszcza te, które pełnią odpowiedzialne funkcje we wspólnocie chrześcijańskiej, aby były bardziej zdolne do słuchania i dialogu, rozeznawania? Czy mamy świadomość odpowiedzialności za własną nieustanną formację do odpowiedzialności i misji ewangelizacyjnej w Kościele?