Facilitating Synodal Conversations

Role of the Diocesan Delegate

The Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team

Each diocese* should select one or two individuals to serve as the Diocesan Contact Person(s) or co-leaders for the diocesan phase of the synodal consultation. If possible, they should organize a team of people to collaborate with them.

A model of co-leadership is recommended, instead of appointing a single contact person, since this reflects the synodal nature of the process. We encourage you to work together with a fellow co-leader, and to collaborate with a team, in order to learn from one another, share responsibility, and enrich the creativity and vitality of the Synodal Process in your diocese. The work of the Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team will involve the following general functions or tasks:

  • Serve as liaison between the diocese and the episcopal conference (and their contact person or team).
  • Serve as the point(s) of reference for parishes and other ecclesial groups in the diocese regarding the synodal consultation.
  • Serve the main contact person(s) for the Bishop of the diocese regarding the Synodal Process.
  • Work in a synodal manner with a team to develop how the diocesan process will unfold and discuss the topics and issues related to synodality (as outlined by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the episcopal conference), as well as the process of collecting, analysing, and synthesizing the consultation input from across the diocese
  • Invite all parishes to take part in the consultation process, organizing gatherings to participate in the Synodal Process on the local level. Parishes can join together with other parishes to promote a greater sense of communion and journeying together. The Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team should encourage parishes to foster a spirit of fraternity, co-responsibility, and the full and active participation of the ordained, consecrated religious, and lay women and men of the community, including children, young people, single persons, married couples, families, and the elderly. In this way, the consultation process will represent the diversity of socio-economic and cultural/ethnic backgrounds and abilities in the local area, as well as encouraging consultation with those who are less active in the practice of the Catholic faith, those from different Christian denominations and other faith traditions, and residents in the local or civic community who have no connection to the parish.
  • Invite each ministry, movement, ecclesial body, and department/office within the diocese to provide input to the questions included in the Vademecum and the accompanying documents from the vantage point of their specific ministry or focus area. Each of these groups can hold its own consultation, or work together with one another and/or with parishes in the diocese. Efforts should be made to involve all the various apostolates, cultures, communities, groups, initiatives, and ecumenical/interreligious efforts within diocese in the consultation process, fostering an authentic experience of synodality in the local Church.
  • Offer training and accompaniment (in the form of workshops, webinars, videos, materials, and/or personal support) to those who will be responsible for carrying out and facilitating the consultation process on the local level (in parishes, communities, etc.), in order to help them to understand the meaning of synodality, the objectives of the current Synodal Process, and the characteristics of the synodal experience that they are trying to foster (for more information please consult the Vademecum or the Synod website).
  • Develop methods for receiving input from the consultation process across the diocese and communicate this process to parishes, diocesan groups, religious communities, and movements, engaging the widest participation possible. This may include:
    • Suggesting that parishes/communities appoint their own contact person/team to carry out the consultation.
    • Suggesting that parishes/communities conduct one, two, or more consultation meetings with people in the local community. Parishes/groups may wish to have a special consultation for certain groups (for example, adolescents, young adults, married couples, migrants and refugees, those who are less active in the faith, and those who experience poverty and marginalization).
    • Suggesting that parishes find a way of synthesizing or take note of each consultation/conversation (either by means of a secretary/ note taker, through recording the meeting electronically, having participants or facilitators upload their notes online, or other means).
    • Setting up a specific deadline and the process/means by which all input is sent on to the Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team.
    • Encouraging gatherings after the consultation process with those who participated and others, to share what has been done to follow-up on the input provided, and to discern the next steps for integrating the spirit and style of synodality on the local level.
  • Regularly check in with each parish/community throughout the consultation phase, providing support, encouragement, accompaniment, and reiterating gratitude along the way.
  • Gather the syntheses/input/insights from the local consultations in a timely manner.
  • Oversee the organization of the Diocesan Pre-Synodal Meeting (see Appendix C).
  • Analyse and synthesize the input gathered, developing one succinct diocesan synthesis totalling a maximum of ten pages, which will then be communicated to the episcopal conference by their stated deadline. This synthesis should be developed by the team working with the Diocesan Contact Person(s), in collaboration with the Bishop and/or his designate (see Appendix D).
  • Send the diocesan synthesis to the episcopal conference in a timely manner.

The Diocesan Contact Person(s) and team should have the following qualities:

  • A spiritually mature person with a living faith.
  • A natural collaborator.
  • An effective communicator.
  • The ability to synthesize a variety of information.
  • The ability to interact well with people of diverse cultural, generational, and ecclesial backgrounds.
  • Familiarity with diocesan structures and processes.
  • Prior experience working in collaborative initiatives or synodal 
  • Humility in working with a co-leader and/or team, graciously open to 
the insights and gifts of others as well as trying new ways of proceeding.

It should be noted that the Diocesan Contact Person(s) does not have to be a member of the clergy. If a co-leadership model is used, it is highly recommended that the co-leaders be one man and one woman. At least one of them should be a lay person.

The team collaborating with the Diocesan Contact Person(s) should reflect the diversity of the diocese and include key diocesan leaders: lay women and men, clergy, and consecrated religious, of different cultures, generations, and backgrounds, representing the Church’s diverse ministries and charisms in particular the diocese’s pastoral work with young people, families, migrants and refugees, and the poor. It would be helpful if some members of the team had previously/recently worked with local, diocesan, or national synodal processes, or similar endeavours.

* Note: In the Vademecum and all of the accompanying appendices and resources, the term “diocese” refers to local Churches in general, and can be substituted with the terms eparchy, ordinariate, or any other equivalent ecclesial body. 

Planning and Discerning the path for the Diocese

Discerning the path for your diocese

Suggested points to consider

The Synod is an invitation for every diocese to embark on a path of profound renewal as
inspired by the grace of God’s Spirit. As stated in the Preparatory Document, the Synod
considers a main question: How is our “walking together” in synodality realized today in the
Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “walking together”?

The sensus fidei of the whole People of God is sought on this question. Since each diocese has
a unique context, its path for seeking, promoting, and reaping the fruits of this sensus fidei will
be unique. Overall, the Synod guidelines remind us that:

  • The goal is to ensure the participation of the greatest number possible, in order
    to listen to the living voice of the entire People of God.
  • This is not possible unless we make special efforts to actively reach out to people
    where they’re at, especially those who are often excluded or who are not involved
    in the life of the Church.
  • There must be a clear focus on the participation of the poor, marginalized,
    vulnerable, and excluded, in order to listen to their voices and experiences.
  • The Synodal Process must be simple, accessible, and welcoming for all.

Planning for such a process is already the beginning of synodal conversion! Below are some
suggested points you can use in discerning the path for your diocese. The Diocesan Contact
Person(s) and Synodal Team together with the Bishop could discuss them together:

  1. After reading the Preparatory Document and Vademecum in a prayerful and
    reflective way, which points move or stir us most deeply? Why?
  2. Who are the groups of people in our diocese to whom we feel the need to make
    a special effort to reach?
  3. What are some effective ways to reach them? Who can we partner with?
  4. What is the level of experience in synodality or the readiness and skills of
    people? What are the relevant processes in the recent past, if any?
  5. What existing structures are available in our diocese to facilitate participation?
    What improvements might be needed in these structures to make them more
    effective for synodality?
  6. What might be some new or creative structures and processes that we can try?
  7. What are the significant factors in our local context that will affect our Synodal
    Process? (e.g. Severe pandemic situation, political conflict, natural disaster,
    recent local synodal processes, etc.)
  8. Which aspects of the Synod question should we focus on, if any? Why? What
    might be some aspects of synodal conversion which the Holy Spirit is inviting
    the diocese to undergo?

Some dioceses are already engaged in synodal processes either at the local, national, or
continental level. In recent months, these include the Bishops’ Conference of Latin the Ecclesial
Assembly in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Plenary Council in Australia, and the
synodal journeys in Germany and Ireland. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences is
also in the midst of celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Certain individual dioceses might also be
undergoing diocesan pastoral planning or commemorating special anniversaries.

The Synod 2021-2023 is not meant to supplant but to complement these existing celebrations
and synodal processes. After all, it is the same Spirit of God leading and transforming the
Church, whether at the local, regional, or global level. The Diocesan Phase of the Synodal
Process 2021-2023 is thus an opportunity to listen more deeply to the voice of the Spirit,
enhance participation and outreach, improve the quality of dialogue, discern about further
issues, strengthen conversion in attitudes and skills, and animate people’s sense of connection
between the local, regional, and global church. The following are some reflection questions
that can aid discernment of the process for dioceses that have been undergoing pastoral
planning, diocesan synods, or other similar consultation processes:

  • What was the extent of participation?
  • What graces and fruits were experienced?
  • What can be improved? What were the gaps?
  • What decisions, proposals, suggestions or key points emerging from the recent
    process would benefit from further reflection, dialogue, elaboration and reception
    among people?
  • What new questions or further issues need to be reflected upon especially with
    regard to the theme of communion, participation, and mission?
  • What new ways of dialogue and communal discernment can people learn and put
    into further practice?
  • What other groups of people can be reached out to, especially at the grassroots and
  • In what other ways might the Diocesan Phase of the Synod 2021-2023 be a good
    opportunity to progress in the calls we heard from God’s Spirit in our recent

Links and other suggested resources

General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishop’s website for the Synod on Synodality. To access click here.

Synod on Synodality’s resource website. To access click here.

Diocesan links and other resources for the Synodal Pathway.

Video Resources:

Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. speaks about the meaning of listening for the Dominican tradition. To access click here.

The Primat Abbot Gregory Polan of the Benedictine order tells us about the meaning of listening in
its monastic tradition. To access click here.

Sister Natalie Becquart, the first woman to be given a vote on the Synod of Bishops, talks to
Christopher Lamb in a Tablet webinar about synodality, what it means and why Pope Francis is
promoting the concept. To access click here.

Sister Natalie Becquart speaks on Synodality and Lay people. To access click here.

Discernment Resources:

Essential Ignatian Resources: This is a good resource to assist with discernment, listening and planning. The resources may help with deciding what is the best way forward for your diocese or parish and reflecting on what is important. To access click here.

Discerning Leadership Website and YouTube Channel

Personal Discernment: To access click here

Discerning leadership programme speaks on Communal discernment. To access click here.

Sr. Nathalie Becquart, Sub-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, shares about her experience in the
Synod of Youth and how Synodality is unfolding as an essential element in the Church. To access click here.

Listening, Reflection, Facilitation

Conversation in the Spirit

A conversation in the Spirit focuses on the quality of one’s capacity to listen as well as the quality of the words spoken. This means paying attention to the spiritual movements in oneself and in the other person during the conversation, which requires being attentive to more than simply the words expressed. This quality of attention is an act of respecting, welcoming, and being hospitable to others as they are. It is an approach that takes seriously what happens in the hearts of those who are conversing. There are two necessary attitudes that are fundamental to this process: active listening and speaking from the heart.

The aim of conversations in the Spirit is to create an atmosphere of trust and welcome, so that people can express themselves more freely. This helps them to take seriously what happens within them as they listen to others and speak. Ultimately, this interior attentiveness makes us more aware of the presence and participation of the Holy Spirit in the process of sharing and discernment. The focus of a conversation in the Spirit is on the person to whom we are listening, on ourselves, and what we are experiencing at a spiritual level. The fundamental question
is: “What is happening in the other person and in me, and how is the Lord working here?”

a) Active Listening

  • Through active listening, the goal is to try and understand others as they are. We listen not only to what the other person says, but also to what he or she means and what he or she might be experiencing on a deeper level. This means listening with a heart that is open and receptive.
  • This way of listening is “active” because it involves paying attention to more than one level of expression of the other. In order to do so, one must participate actively in the listening process.
  • We listen to the other while he or she is speaking, and do not focus on what we are going to say afterwards.
  • We welcome, without judgment, what the other person says, no matter what we think about the person or what they have said. Each person is an expert on his or her own life. We must listen in a way that is “more disposed to giving a good interpretation to what the other says than condemning it as false” (Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, no. 22).
  • We must believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Conversation in the Spirit other person.
  • Welcoming without prejudice is a deep way of welcoming the other in his or her radical uniqueness.
  • Active listening is letting oneself be influenced by the other and learning from the other.
  • Active listening is demanding because it requires humility, openness, patience, and involvement, but it is an effective way of taking others seriously.

b) Speaking from the Heart

  • This means sincerely expressing oneself, one’s experience, one’s sentiments and thoughts.
  • It involves speaking about one’s own experience and what one truly thinks and feels.
  • We take responsibility not only for what we say, but also for what we feel.
  • We do not blame others for what we feel.
  • We share the truth as we see it and as we live it, but do not impose it.
  • Speaking from the heart is offering a generous gift to the other, in return for being actively listened to.
  • This process is greatly enriched by a regular personal practice of prayerful self-examen. Without a habit of discernment and knowledge of oneself and how God is present in one’s life, one cannot actively listen or speak from the heart.

In summary, what are the desired attitudes for a conversation in the Spirit?

  • Listen actively and attentively.
  • Listen to others without judgment.
  • Pay attention not only to the words, but also to the tone and feelings of the one who is speaking.
  • Avoid the temptation of using the time to prepare what you will say instead of listening.
  • Speak intentionally.
  • Express your experiences, thoughts, and feelings as clearly as you can.
  • Listen actively to yourself, mindful of your own thoughts and feelings as you speak.
  • Monitor possible tendencies to be self-centred when speaking.


Carrying Out A Conversation in the Spirit
The Basic Steps
Estimated time: About 2 hours

1. Preparation: Before coming to the group meeting, participants carry out a time of personal prayer and reflection over the question at hand. Usually some background information as well as some points and questions for prayer are provided. An adequate time of about 30 min to 1 hour can be set aside for this. At the end of the prayer period, participants take stock of the fruits of their prayer and decide what they will share with the group.

2. Gathering: Ideally each group can comprise about 6-8 persons. A facilitator is appointed for the group meeting and he or she welcomes all the participants. An opening prayer is said, and each person may share one or two words that describe his or her interior state at that moment. The facilitator may also briefly recap the sequence of steps as below. Usually volunteers are also requested for note-taking and time-keeping.

3. The First Round: Each person takes turns to share about what happened during the personal prayer time and shares the fruits of his or her prayer. Everyone is given the same amount of time to speak (e.g. 3 minutes). The focus is to listen to one another rather than simply think about what one wants to say. Participants are invited to open their hearts and minds to listen to the one who is speaking, and be attentive to how the Holy Spirit is moving. Between each person, the group may take a brief pause to absorb what was said. During this round there are no discussions or interactions between participants except to ask for clarification about a word or phrase if necessary.

4. Silence: A time of silence is observed, during which participants attend to how they have been moved during the first round, what struck them as they listened, and what were the notable points of consolation or desolation if any.

5. The Second Round: Participants share what emerged within them during the time of silence. No one is obliged to speak, and participants can share spontaneously without any particular order. This is not a time for discussing or refuting what someone else says, nor for bringing up what participants forgot to mention in the first round. Rather, it is an opportunity to respond to questions like:

  • How was I affected by what I heard?
  • Is there a common thread in what was shared? Is there something missing that I had expected would be said?
  • Was I especially touched by a particular sharing?
  • Have I received any particular insight or revelation? What is it?
  • Where did I experience a sense of harmony with others as we shared with one another?

This second round enables the group to realise what unites them. It is here that signs of the action of the Holy Spirit in the group begin to manifest themselves, and the conversation becomes an experience of shared discernment.

6. Silence: Another time of silence is observed for participants to note how they were moved during the second round, and particularly what key points seem to be emerging in the group.

7. The Third Round: Participants share what emerged from the preceding time of silence. They may also take note of the ways in which the Holy Spirit may be moving the group. A prayer of thanksgiving can conclude the conversation.

8. Review and Report: Finally the group can briefly review and reflect on how the conversation proceeded, and decide on the main points they will report from the conversation.

Note: The term “diocese” refers to local churches in general, and can be substituted with the terms parish, movement, association, group, etc. This resources has been taken from the Vademecum (the original preparatory document for the Universal Synod) and adapted for the Irish Synodal Pathway.


The Suggested tools for reflecting, sharing, and responding to the questions of the Synod

The following are some tools for reflecting, sharing, and responding to the questions of the Synod. Some of these tools are particularly suitable for children, youth, and people who prefer approaches that are simple and easy to relate to.

Narrative approach: Telling or writing one’s own faith story and journey with the Church

One’s life story. People can be invited to tell their story, their view of faith, the way they have sought to take their place in the Church. During the diocesan or national synthesis, care should be taken not to read these stories as simple testimonies, but to hear what paths they open up for the local churches.

A text that drives exchanges. We can invite a small group of people to write a joint text; then other groups of people react to this text and comment on it from their own daily lives. This way of doing things can be applied to hearing one another’s life stories, which can be shared with groups of other people. All these words can also open the eyes of other Christians on the mission of the Church and its capacity to “reach everyone.”

Finding the right words. Participants can be invited to say what the Church evokes in them, or to name the words that designate what it takes to “walk together with Jesus” (a possible translation of synodality), and then which words are opposed to “walking together”; they can then be invited to explain why they evoked this or that word. The participants can then choose which words are the most significant and the most apt to convey the group’s message.

Using images and artistic creation

Communicating through images. Presented with various images, people are invited to find those that best capture what walking together in the Church means to them. Participants can then share why they chose that particular image. On the basis of these exchanges, a joint text can be written.

An individual or shared artistic creation. People are invited to draw an image of the Church in which they walk together, and they are asked to comment on their drawing. People can also make an artistic creation together, as a way of visually representing the Church or their place in it. In any case, once the work has been created, participants are invited to share about what they have created; their comments can then be transmitted as well as their creative works.

Writing together. Participants are invited to write a story, a poem, a prayer, a psalm, or a songon the theme of “walking together with Jesus” or “walking together in the Church.” This piece of writing may be intended to update selected passages from the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles. What they write can be passed on as it is. It can also be proclaimed during synodal celebrations (for example, if it is a song, it can become a dance for the synodal celebration). Acting it out. A group of participants can write a short play that expresses what it means to “walk together” in the Church, why it is important, why it is difficult, etc. This story can then be acted out and performed at a Synodal assembly.

Scriptural approach

Gospel sharing. The Word of God inspires and enlightens our journey together, giving us food to share with one another on the way. Participants are invited to comment on the attitudes of the characters and to react to them; they may be asked if a particular gesture or word of Jesus reminds them of, or sheds light on, something in their daily lives. We can then look for how a particular Gospel passage renews our way of living in the Church. For example, we can read Mk 10:46-52, observing the attitude of the different characters, what it evokes of the Church as we know it, and then how Jesus allows the excluded Bartimaeus to walk forward with everyone. We can likewise pray over Luke 24:13-35, seeing Jesus transform the disciples’ disappointment into missionary joy and dynamism on the road to Emmaus, as he made their hearts burn within them, walking with them on the way.
(Cf. Note of the Centre Sèvres on the Voice of the Poor)

Links and other suggested resources

General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishop’s website for the Synod on Synodality. To access click here.

Synod on Synodality’s resource website. To access click here.

Diocesan links and other resources for the Synodal Pathway
(Please let us know of any updated links and resources)


Guide for Organising a Conversation

Suggested guide for organizing a synodal consultation meeting

Synodal consultation meetings can be organized among various groups in a parish or by bringing diverse peoples together from different parishes. Other diocesan bodies or religious and lay organizations can also collaborate to hold consultation meetings. The following is a general outline of the steps that can be taken.

1. An organizing team can be formed to plan and carry out the consultation process and gatherings on the local level, including discerning how to reach out to people and the most suitable methods for fostering dialogue and participation in an authentic synodal experience.

2. Participation can be encouraged through parish announcements, social media, letters, etc. With the help of local neighbourhoods as well as church institutions such as schools and social centres, a special effort can be made to identify and reach out to those who have not been in regular contact with the church community for some time. Care should be taken to involve those who are excluded or whose voices are often not taken into account.

3. Participants should ideally include people from a diversity of communities, experiences, cultures, ages, and walks of life. The total group size may depend on the available venue and the number of facilitators.

4. About 2-3 weeks before the gathering, preparatory materials for prayer and reflection should be sent to all participants. These can include a brief background reading on synodality, the main reflection question(s), and suggested ways of praying and discerning about these questions, including recommended Scripture passages. Participants should also be informed about the method to be used at the synodal meeting. They should set aside time for personal preparation using all these materials because this is crucial for a fruitful dialogue.

5. The main reflection questions should be relevant and brief. It is often better to have fewer questions which can be explored deeply, rather than have many questions that would be covered superficially. This Synod poses the following fundamental question: A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”? (PD, 26)

In responding to this question, we are invited to:
– Recall our experiences: What experiences of our local Church does this question call to mind?
– Re-read these experiences in greater depth: What joys did they bring? What difficulties and obstacles have they encountered? What wounds did they reveal? What insights have they elicited?
– Gather the fruits to share: Where in these experiences does the voice of the Holy Spirit resound? What is the Spirit asking of us? What are the points to be confirmed, the prospects for change, the steps to be taken? Where do we register a consensus? What paths are opening up for our local Church?

It is often very fruitful for participants to reflect on the journey of their local community up until now. What has been the history of the faith life of the community? How has the community travelled to where they are now? How has God been present? Recollecting the past together often helps to build up the community and guide its path forward.

To help people explore this fundamental question more fully, ten themes have been developed to highlight significant aspects of “lived synodality” (PD, 30). The questions accompanying each of the ten themes can be used as a starting point or helpful guideline for enriching the consultation. These questions can be found in Part 5 of the Vademecum and a more detailed version is available in the accompanying materials on the Synod website.

6. It should be ensured that there are enough group facilitators according to the chosen method and format of the consultation gathering, and that they have been adequately prepared to conduct the process. The team of people who will prepare the synthesis of the consultation should also be identified.

7. At the gathering, communal prayer and liturgy will play a vital role. Listening to one another is grounded in listening to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Meaningful forms of prayer can be used to ask God’s guidance and inspiration and let him deepen our communion with one another. The liturgy and meditating together on Scripture can be very helpful means in this regard.

8. A suitable method for group dialogue which resonates with the principles of synodality can be used. For instance, the Spiritual Conversation method promotes active participation, attentive listening, reflective speaking, and spiritual discernment. Participants form small groups of about 6-7 persons from diverse backgrounds. This method takes about at least an hour and comprises three rounds. In the first round, everyone takes equal turns to share the fruit of his or her prayer, in relation to the reflection questions circulated beforehand (see #5 of this Appendix). There is no discussion in this round and all participants simply listen deeply to each person and attend to how the Holy Spirit is moving within oneself, within the person speaking, and in the group as a whole. This is followed by a time of silence to note one’s interior movements. In the second round, participants share what struck them most in the first round and what moved them during the time of silence. Some dialogue can also occur, and the same spiritual attentiveness is maintained. Once again this is followed by a time of silence. Finally in the third round participants reflect on what seems to be resonating in the conversation and what moved them most deeply. New insights and even unresolved questions are also noted. Spontaneous prayers of gratitude can conclude the conversation. Usually each small group will have a facilitator and note-taker. (A detailed description of this process is provided on the Synod website.)

9.Once the group dialogue has taken place, participants should review and share about their experience of the process within their small group. How was their experience? What were the ups and downs? What new and refreshing insights might they have discovered? What have they learned about the synodal way of proceeding? How was God present and at work during their time together?

10. Participants should then decide on the feedback they wish to communicate to the organizing/facilitation team. The guiding questions for the diocesan synthesis as outlined in Part 4 of the Vademecum can be used as a basis for this feedback on the local level (see also Appendix D).

11. All participants can then come together to conclude the gathering. One representative from each small group can briefly share about the experience of the group. The participants should be informed about the next stage of the Synodal Process, so that they know how their input will contribute to the whole Church. It is recommended that the gathering conclude with a prayer or song of thanksgiving.

12. After the gathering, the organizing/facilitation team members can meet to review the whole experience and to prepare the synthesis based on the feedback submitted by all the small groups. They can then forward their synthesis to the Diocesan Contact Person(s).

13. If people are unable to attend a meeting in person or online, efforts should be made to reach out to them through text messaging, phone calls, radio, or other appropriate means. It is important that we try our best to listen to the voices of everyone, especially those who are marginalized.

For more resources, please consult the Synod website.

Diocesan Pre Synodal Meeting

Diocesan Pre-Synodal Meeting

Each local Church culminates the diocesan phase with a Diocesan Pre- Synodal Meeting. This gathering provide the opportunity for diverse members of the diocese to come together for a liturgical celebration, to pray together, to reflect on their experience of the Synodal Process in the diocese, to listen to feedback that has emerged from the synodal consultation meetings across the diocese, to dialogue about the current reality of the local Church and the signs of the times, and to discern the Holy Spirit’s call for the diocese on the path of synodality. While much of the consultation process during the diocesan phase might have occurred within specific communities of the local Church, such as parishes, ministries, and other ecclesial groups, the objective of the Diocesan Pre-Synodal Meeting is to bring together a representative cross-section of the whole diocese, including minority groups and people on the peripheries, and to enable participants to pray, listen, reflect, and discern together. After this gathering, the outcome of the Diocesan Pre-Synodal Meeting should be included as part of the diocesan synthesis, together with the feedback that emerged from the synodal consultation meetings from across the diocese. (See Appendix D for more information on the diocesan synthesis.)


  1. To culminate the months of the diocesan phase of synodal consultations with the People of God.
  2. To celebrate and reflect on the emerging realities and experience of the diocesan journey of travelling together on the synodal path.
  3. To highlight the main themes of the diocesan consultations with a chosen group of representatives from different communities of the diocese.
  4. To involve members of diverse communities (parishes, ministries, movements, schools, clergy, religious communities, the marginalized, young persons, cultural groups, etc.) in reflecting on the experience and input of the consultation process, in view of the diocesan synthesis on the basis of the feedback received from across the diocese.
  5. To listen to what God has been saying through the people of the diocese, to discern his will for the local Church and the pathways he is inviting the Church to follow in the diocese towards deeper communion, fuller participation, and more fruitful mission.
  6. To bring out the best practices, synodal pathways, and a new momentum and vitality towards being a more synodal Church of journeying together, mutual listening, and co-responsibility.
  7. To develop the diocesan synthesis that conveys what was shared by the People of God during the consultation process in the diocese, as a contribution to the current Synodal Process of the entire Church.


The members of this Synodal meeting depend on the local situation of the diocese. Dioceses may adapt these guidelines according to population size, geographical distances, resources available, cultural background of people, etc. Ideally the members should include:

  • The diocesan Bishop, auxiliary Bishops, and the Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team
  • People whose voices are often inadequately heard, such as those who experience poverty, the elderly, minority groups, isolated persons, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees, indigenous communities, etc.
  • Lay leaders (men, women, young people of various ministries and diocesan bodies)
  • Other lay persons (men, women, and young people invited from parishes and other Church organizations)
  • Clergy (diocesan priests, religious priests, deacons, etc.)
  • Members of Institutes of Consecrated life and Societies of Apostolic life (reflecting the diversity of charisms) and leadership of institutions of apostolic and charitable works
  • Interested ecumenical and interreligious delegates (and others who may not be Catholic but who can contribute helpful perspectives for the Church)
  • People with specialized skills required for the meeting, including facilitators and pastoral or theological experts in ecclesiology


The agenda of this gathering would be to celebrate the synodal journey in the diocese so far, to reflect on the feedback received from the consultation process across the diocese, and to move towards developing the diocesan synthesis that represents the fruits of the listening and discernment of the People of God in the diocese. This diocesan synthesis will be the contribution of the diocese sent to the episcopal conference.

The form of this gathering would be shaped in discernment with the Bishop and the Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team, to most effectively pursue the objectives mentioned above in the context of the diocese. (See the Synod website for more suggestions and resources.) It is highly recommended that the diocesan phase culminate in a liturgical celebration, giving thanks to God for what has been experienced and invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit on the journey ahead. How to put in place the other elements of the gathering can be discerned by each diocese. The Diocesan Contact Person(s) would be responsible for assembling all the feedback received from the consultation process throughout the diocese. The feedback could be presented to the participants at the gathering that culminates the diocesan phase.


It may be necessary or helpful to arrange for online or hybrid meetings, either for the local consultation sessions or for the diocesan celebration that culminates the process across the diocese. Online meetings or a combination of in person and online meetings can be an effective option, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Special care should be taken to ensure that these online or hybrid meetings take place in a spirit of prayer, communion, and attentive listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit. Facilitators or moderators should ensure that all participants are able to contribute and have their voice heard, including those who are less comfortable or familiar with technology.


We encourage dioceses to involve young people in the planning and execution of these e-synodal meetings, thus exploring creative ways of making it accessible and user friendly for all participants, keeping in mind the various needs of different age groups. Tools like social media, virtual platforms, and interactive technology could be put to great use in reaching out to more people and collecting responses that could be handed over to the Diocesan Contact Person(s) Team. Young people can play a key role in contributing creatively and effectively to these efforts.

Links and other suggested resources

General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishop’s website for the Synod on Synodality. To access click here.

Synod on Synodality’s resource website. To access click here.

Diocesan links and other resources for the Synodal Pathway
(Please let us know of any updated links and resources)

Preparing Diocesan Synthesis

Preparing the diocesan synthesis

The diocesan synthesis conveys the main fruits of the discernment of the whole People of God across the diocese. It is recommended that this be captured in a written document of up to 10 pages. Other materials such as images, videos, stories, artistic expressions, and personal testimonies can be submitted as attachments, insofar as they help to bring out the experience and input of participants.

The diocesan synthesis should reflect the diversity of views and opinions expressed, and pay particular attention to the lived experiences of participants, both positive and negative. The synthesis should be faithful to the people’s voices and to whatever emerged from their discernment and dialogue, rather than a series of generalized or doctrinally correct statements. Points of view that are contrary to one another need not be omitted but can be acknowledged and stated as such. Views should not be excluded simply because they were expressed by a small minority of participants. Indeed, sometimes the perspective of what we could call the “minority report” can be a prophetic witness to what God wants to say to the Church.

The content of the synthesis may be organized according to the following questions, which are offered as suggestions. The aim is to aptly convey the diverse fruits, insights, joys, and challenges of the synodal experience and discernment among the people of the diocese:

  • In terms of the process of the consultation, what were the main steps taken in the diocese? What were the main questions posed? What was done to engage as many participants as possible and to reach out to the peripheries? Approximately what proportion of people in the diocese participated in one way or other? Were there any groups of people whose participation was especially noteworthy? Where there specific groups of people who did not participate for any reason?
  • What was most significant about the whole experience of the consultation? What were the high points and low points, or the consolations and desolations? What dispositions, attitudes, or feelings were notable? What tensions or disagreements emerged from the listening process? What topics or issues gave rise to diverse points of view? Overall, what were the fruits that the Holy Spirit has brought about through this experience?
  • Among the feedback from the local meetings, what was particularly significant, surprising or unexpected? What new perspectives or new horizons opened up? Which particular stories or real-life experiences were especially moving and why? Which points of view seem to have strong resonance? Which points of view were mentioned less but are interesting and noteworthy?
  • Overall, what has the Holy Spirit inspired the community to see regarding the current reality of synodality in the local church, including the present lights and shadows? What did participants have to say about areas where the Church is in need of healing and conversion, in its spiritual life, culture, attitudes, structures, pastoral practices, relationships, and missionary outreach?
  • In what ways is the Holy Spirit inviting the local church to grow in synodality? What dreams, desires, and aspirations for the church were expressed by participants? Based on their feedback, what steps does the diocese feel called to take in becoming more synodal? What are the next steps forward for our diocese on the path of synodality, in communion with the whole Church?
  • What cultural image(s) articulate(s) our experience of synodality?

It is recommended that the synthesis be prepared by a small team of persons rather than a large assembly. This team will carry out its task in collaboration with the diocesan Bishop and the Diocesan Contact Person(s). They should read all the submissions in a spirit of prayer. The team meetings themselves should be synodal and spiritually discerning, listening to the living voice of the People of God across the diocese under the guidance of the Holy Spirit

Links and other suggested resources

General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishop’s website for the Synod on Synodality. To access click here.

Synod on Synodality’s resource website. To access click here.

Diocesan links and other resources for the Synodal Pathway
(Please let us know of any updated links and resources)