‘Listen and learn’ — Bishop Tylka opens diocesan phase leading to 2023 Synod

This is the official logo for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The synod will take place in October 2023 and will be preceded by broad consultation at the diocesan, national and regional levels. (CNS photo/courtesy Synod of Bishops)

Saying “we have to listen and learn from each other, know each other, so we can be the church God wants us to be,” Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka on Sunday officially opened the Diocese of Peoria’s phase of the worldwide process leading to a Synod of Bishops in 2023.

Bishop Tylka was celebrant and homilist at a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Oct. 17, one week after Pope Francis opened the process at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

“We need to talk about who we are and who we’re called to be and to welcome people in so they, too, can share the experience of God’s love and mercy.” Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka

The cathedral Mass featured special prayer texts in preparation for the synod, including Prayers of the Faithful petitions.

Bishop Tylka also led the assembly in a “Prayer for the Synod on Synodality” that invites the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The diocese has invited parishes to use the prayer when they have parish council or finance meetings and other such gatherings.

LISTENING AND LEARNING

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel reading, in which James and John caused a stir among the apostles by asking to sit at Jesus’ right and left in the Kingdom, Bishop Tylka noted that squabbles were common among the apostles because Jesus called them from different places.

“They needed to come to know each other on a much deeper level to understand who they were and who they were called to be as followers of Christ,” said Bishop Tylka.

“Isn’t that the same with the church?” he asked. The synod process, he said, invites the church to better listen and learn from one another “as we all try to live out our discipleship in the Lord.”

Bishop Tylka and the diocese got a significant head start in that process in the past few months as he traveled to each vicariate for listening sessions that invited representatives from each parish. Those sessions, described in a front page story in the Oct. 10 edition of The Catholic Post, will provide much of the material needed for a pre-synod report from the diocese to the Vatican in March.

Bishop Tylka added that there will be additional opportunities for other groups — the Hispanic community, youth, deacons, and Religious — to offer their input.

“LIKE A FAMILY DINNER”

In his homily, Bishop Tylka told how a participant in a recent small group discussion likened the synod process to a family dinner.

“I really like that image,” he said. Sometimes, there may be a “crazy” aunt or uncle present who asks uncomfortable questions or says odd things. Often an unexpected guest arrives, and room is made at the table for them. “By the time they leave the table, they’re no longer strangers, they’re part of the family,” said Bishop Tylka, adding families always learn more about one another and themselves in these settings.

“So in one sense the synod is that family dinner,” he continued. “We all have to gather around the table of the Lord to pray and discern and share our stories. We need to talk about who we are and who we’re called to be and to welcome people in so they, too, can share the experience of God’s love and mercy.”

Bishop Tylka emphasized the synod is not a one-time event. “This is the way the church is called to be . . . always willing to encounter and engage and discern, and then move forward.”

Parishes throughout the diocese will continue to pray for the synod at Masses, and Bishop Tylka hopes the process “will renew our means of regular consultation and consultation” both locally and at the diocesan level.

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