The church is listening

Last summer, when newly arrived Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka set out on his ambitious “Welcome Tour” around the Diocese of Peoria, The Catholic Post was present at each stop — camera and notebook in hand — as he celebrated Masses in the various vicariates and greeted the faithful afterward. What we did not report on were private meetings Bishop Lou had with the priests of those regions as he came to know them and their viewpoints.

Bishop Lou has since logged thousands of additional miles across the diocese, and this month he completed what he called “Welcome Tour 2 — Listening to the Faithful.” Again, there were visits to all 12 vicariates. But like the discussions with priests, these were quieter affairs, out of the public spotlight. As our story explains, the six-week tour drew four representatives from each parish — priests were not included this time — to discuss questions about the church’s challenges, opportunities, and priorities.

The bishop listened, and is planning a response.

“Listening” is a key word as the universal church opens preparations for a Synod of Bishops in 2023. Pope Francis is calling the church to practice “synodality,” that is listening to — and hearing — one another in all facets of church life. Last week he chose “Listen” as his theme for next year’s World Communications Day.

“Every dialogue, every relationship begins with listening,” said a statement announcing the theme.

Bishop Tylka’s listening sessions have our diocese off to a fast start. May we follow his lead and prioritize listening in our relationships, be it at home, work, school, parish, or in our prayer. — Thomas J. Dermody

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