What's Next in Our Synod Process?

As our Church continues to journey together towards the Synod meetings being held in Rome in October 2023 and October 2024, we also continue seeking to become a listening church in our local church.

At St. Margaret Mary:

Ecumenical Vigil on the Opening of the 2023 Synod - September 30, 2023

As we listen attentively to each other’s lived experiences, we grow in mutual respect and begin to discern the movements of God’s Spirit in the lives of others and in our own. In this way,” we become “a Church increasingly capable of making prophetic decisions that are the fruit of the Spirit’s guidance.” (Instrumentum Laboris, N.31)

Journeying Together

The church’s journey to be a community that listens to one another and to the Holy Spirit continues with the release of a document to prepare for the General Assembly of Bishops, lay persons and religious from across the world  October 4th to 29th in Rome.

This document, called the “Instrumentum Laboris” acts as a “tool for the task.”  It was written through reading and reflection on consultations with the People of God - beginning with local level sharing during listening sessions and follow up meetings.  The text emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit through a method of discernment based on mutual listening and describes characteristics of a “synodal” church.

Three overarching priorities are presented as challenges with which the whole Church must measure itself:

  • A communion that radiates: how to be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?
  • Co-responsibility in mission: how to share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel?
  • Participation, governance and authority. What processes, structures and institutions in a missionary synodal Church?

You can access the Instrumentum Laboris and other documents for the Synod process at and keep up with the ongoing process at  The Synod invites us all to seek to grow into being a listening people who journey together engaged with our community and the needs around us.

Who will take part? 

  • 364 voting delegates
  • 70 lay people
  • 84 women (includes women religious)
  • 75 facilitators/experts (non-voting)
  • 20 from United States

For the first time, lay people will participate not as observers only but as full members, with the ability to vote on the contents of a final document at the end of the process.  Women will be participating as voting members. Marking the particular style and dynamics of this synodal approach, the gatherings will be in a large meeting room with seating at round tables, rather than in the auditorium style hall previously used, allowing for mutual sharing & listening to one another based on a ‘conversation in the spirit.’

The Vatican’s complete list of participants is available HERE.

What is a Synodal Church? 

The Instrumentum Laboris identifies several characteristics that mark a church “journeying together.  A  synodal Church:

  • is founded on the recognition of a common dignity deriving from Baptism.
  • cannot be understood if not within the horizon of communion, which is always also a mission.
  • is a Church that listens and a Church of listening.
  • desires to be humble & knows that it must ask forgiveness and has much to learn
  • is a Church of encounter and dialogue, which is not afraid of the variety it bears, but values it without forcing it into uniformity.
  • is a Church that is open, welcoming and embraces all.
  • is a Church willing and able to handle tensions without being crushed by them.
  • is a restless Church because she is aware that she is vulnerable and incomplete.
  • is also a Church of discernment.