Diocesan Synod Committee wants to hear from local faithful as part of global effort

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PROVIDENCE — With the diocesan phase of the global 2023 Synod of Bishops, invoked by Pope Francis, well underway, diocesan Office of Faith Formation Synod Committee contacts Edward Trendowski, Ph.D., and Michelle Donovan have been working with their Synod Committee on ways to engage the faithful, as requested by the Holy Father.
“Michelle and I formed a subcommittee to draft a survey,” said Trendowski, director of the Office of Faith Formation.
“We hope that many Catholics, non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians will be able to take the survey, letting us know about their experience of the Catholic Church. We hope to get feedback regarding both positive and negative experiences with the Church.”
Trendowski said that the survey is being crafted around the 10 themes found in the Vatican’s “Preparatory Document.”
He said that the 14-member Synod Committee will convene this month to begin the process of scheduling regional meetings, which are also called for in the Vatican’s guidelines for local committees, to hear from the Catholic faithful.
“While it is important to hear from non-Catholics, and the documents make this point clear, the main contributors to this diocesan phase of the synodal process are to be Catholics,” Trendowski said.
In October 2021, Pope Francis invoked the synod, officially titled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” but known colloquially as the Synod on Synodality, to discuss ways to broaden participation in the Church.
Each diocese around the world has been tasked with assembling a committee of priests, religious and lay people to begin by reviewing preparatory documents and questions for contemplation supplied by the Vatican. Over the next few months the committees will discern answers to these questions about how to better listen to and respond to the needs of the faithful in encouraging greater participation in the life of the Church.
“At this point of the process, it seems clear that the Vatican is not leading us through this synodal process to gather more information on why Catholics and others either love or hate the Church. It seems that the goal of the diocesan phase is for us to learn, as a Church, through the process itself, to communicate the life-saving Gospel message of Jesus Christ more effectively,” he said.
“One key element in the process of evangelization is listening as when we are dialoguing with other people, it is important to practice the art of listening, even when we are speaking with people that we fundamentally disagree with.”
Michelle Donovan, assistant director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Providence, said she hopes that throughout this synod process people will hear a sincere invitation to share their experience of the Catholic Church.
“We have already seen that people are taking an interest in our local synod process through letters, phone calls and emails, and we have also experienced the enthusiasm of the synod committee members,” Donovan said.
“We want to make it easy for people to participate.”
Trendowski said that parishes or other local Catholic groups might determine, after consultation with their individual pastors, that they would like to form their own gathering or listening sessions.
He said that anyone who is interested in doing that, or is looking for more information on the synod process, can visit https://discovercatholicfaith.org/synod2023. Also, Trendowski encourages anyone with comments or questions to reach out to either him or Donovan at faithformation@dioceseofprovidence.org or by phone at 401-278-4646.

Synod Committee Members

Father Joshua Barrow
Pastor, St. Teresa, Pawtucket

Marlyn Batista
Parishioner at St. Patrick, Providence and student at Notre Dame University

Nick Belt
Young Adult, St. Brendan, Riverside

Dr. Holly Taylor Coolman
Theology Professor, Providence College

Diane Castro
Parishioner at St. Francis, Wakefield

Carlene Fontaine
DRE at Holy Trinity Church, Woonsocket

Deacon John Fulton
St. Kevin, Warwick

Sister Anne Frances Klein, O.P.
Campus Ministry, Providence College

Nathan Ledoux
Seminarian

Devonn Pafume
Young Adult DRE at St. Francis Xavier

Dr. Miguel Romero
Theology Professor, Salve Regina University

Richard Stewart
Theology teacher, Bishop Hendricken High School

Celso Vera
DRE at Holy Spirit, Central Falls

Father Michael Woolley
Pastor, SS. John and Paul, Coventry

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