‘Listening to the Faithful’ — Bishop Tylka hears hopes, struggles on Welcome Tour 2

At the end of the listening session for the LaSalle Vicariate, Bishop Louis Tylka offers a response to what he had heard that evening and thanked parishioners for being engaged in the process. The Sept. 21 gathering was held in the Holy Family School Gym in Oglesby. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In what he hopes will be a hallmark of his time in the Diocese of Peoria, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka has been listening to parishioners in each of the 12 vicariates as they shared their lived experience of the faith and their hopes and dreams, as well as their struggles.

As “Welcome Tour Part 2 — Listening to the Faithful” concluded Oct. 5, he said he came away with not only a better sense of the challenges ahead, but also a great deal of hope.

Susanna Prushinski of St. Louis in Princeton continues the conversation with Bishop Louis Tylka after the listening session in the Holy Family School Gym in Oglesby. The Sept. 21 gathering was for the parishes of the LaSalle Vicariate, the largest in the Diocese of Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“The fact that they were willing to be engaged in conversation” was one sign of that hope, Bishop Tylka told The Catholic Post. “I could hear their passion for building up the church.”

Mentioned more than once over the course of six weeks was a desire for dynamic evangelization and catechesis, and a willingness to bring renewal to the church, he added.

Bishop Tylka also heard calls for greater transparency, accountability and presence.

The listening sessions came at a time when the universal church is preparing for a Synod of Bishops in 2023. The theme for that gathering is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

Synodality refers to listening to and hearing one another.

“It’s a process for us to develop a deeper understanding of how we should be as church,” Bishop Tylka said, adding that the process is expected to put some “meat on the bones” of the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council.

The diocesan phase of synod preparations officially begins this month and is expected to last through March 2022. Bishop Tylka said feedback must be compiled into a report and submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by April 1, 2022.

Each conference of bishops will then prepare a report that will be sent to the Vatican.

WILL READ EVERY WORD

The synod had been called for by the time Bishop Tylka started to plan the vicariate listening sessions, but he didn’t receive instructions on what was to happen until early September. While it did “shake up” the process a bit, he was able to move forward.

Each parish was asked to send both of its trustees and two representatives chosen by the pastor to the listening sessions. Since the priests in each vicariate had an opportunity to meet with Bishop Tylka during his first “Welcome Tour” last fall, they were not included this time around.

Before they came to the meeting, parish representatives were asked to discuss and have written responses to four questions:

  • What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the Church today?
  • What would you consider to be the biggest challenge we are faced with in the Church today?
  • Name the top three priorities you are addressing in your parish?
  • What is some specific advice you would give to your new bishop about the Diocese of Peoria?

At the listening sessions, each parish was called upon. In large vicariates, such as the LaSalle Vicariate where there are 22 parishes, there was only time for each parish to respond to one question, chosen at random. Smaller vicariates were able to get through two rounds of questions.

Janet Smith, who represented St. John the Evangelist Parish in Walnut, answers one of four questions posed to parishes by Bishop Louis Tylka as part of the listening session for the LaSalle Vicariate. The Sept. 21 gathering was held in the Holy Family School Gym in Oglesby. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

All of the written responses were given to Bishop Tylka. Before the sessions ended he talked a little bit about what he had heard but promised to read every word of what he received. “There will need to be a response.”

More than a dialogue between parishioners and the bishop, the process was meant to encourage dialogue with pastors, fellow parishioners, and other parishes, he said.

AROUND THE DIOCESE

“Welcome Tour 2 — Listening to the Faithful” took Bishop Tylka to: Blessed Sacrament in Morton, Pekin Vicariate, on Aug. 26; the Motsett Center in Danville, Danville Vicariate, Aug. 30; St. Matthew in Champaign, Champaign Vicariate, Aug. 31; St. Patrick in Ottawa, Ottawa Vicariate, Sept. 1; Immaculate Conception in Monmouth, Galesburg Vicariate, Sept. 7; St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington, Bloomington Vicariate, Sept. 8; and St. Vincent de Paul in Peoria, Peoria Vicariate, Sept. 14.

The tour also included: St. Mary in Pontiac, Pontiac Vicariate, Sept. 15; Sacred Heart in Rock Island, Rock Island Vicariate, Sept. 16; Holy Family in Oglesby, LaSalle Vicariate, Sept. 21; St. Anthony in Atkinson, Kewanee Vicariate, Sept. 23; and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Newman Center in Macomb, Macomb Vicariate, Oct. 5.

Listening sessions with Spanish-speaking Catholics and young people are being discussed and logistics considered for how to make those happen.

Assisting Bishop Tylka were Philip Lee, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship, and Ben Wilson, one of his masters of ceremonies.

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