Synod Training Sessions in Dunkeld Diocese


Parish Facilitators’ submission

Mar 13, 20221 min read
Each parish will have its own plan for holding Synodal Listening Sessions

Feedback from these sessions is a very important part of the synodal journey we are on.

You must fill in a separate form for each Listening Group.

Please complete the following as best you can.
In our parish we held the following listening sessions
In our parish we held the following listening sessions
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Number of people who took part in the listening session.
Number of people who took part in the listening session.
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Synod Listening Session
Please state the question presented to your group for discussion. Add all the positive responses first followed by those indicating a need for change. Please enter in bullet point form.
What was the main question asked?
What was the main question asked?
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Positive responses
Positive responses
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Negative responses
Negative responses
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Any further comments 
Any further comments 
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Diocese of Dunkeld - Synod Survey

On Saturday 19th February, Dunkeld’s Synod Core Group Coordinator, Mrs Maureen Ruddy, led a series of workshops for the parish facilitators who will help to take forward the dialogue about Synodality. The process was started last October by Pope Francis and is being continued in our diocese by Bishop Stephen.

Mrs Ruddy said, “Their work will build on the rich and prayerful responses which are coming in through the online questionnaires, and on paper. A series of parish group listening sessions will now bring further feedback which will assist Bishop Stephen to compile the diocesan synthesis which he will submit to the Holy Father in the autumn.”

“Synodality starts with coffee,” said the French nun, Xavière Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart who serves as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.

So, how about a conversation over a cup of coffee about people’s experience of Church. This was the brainchild of a parishioner in the Davenport Diocese in Iowa U.S.A.  Like many parishes throughout the world attendance at church services in his diocese had been affected by the pandemic. It was proving very difficult to get some people to make a return and he wanted to know why and what could be done to help bring them back.

Perhaps this idea might suit some parishes in our own Dunkeld Diocese and be an ideal way to reach out to parishioners, friends and family as well as those who are disaffiliated and others who may not be too happy to turn up for a more formal listening session.

The idea is for Mass goers to sign up for a coffee date and conversation with three different people: one who continues to practise, one who has not returned since the pandemic and one who is either part of a different faith group, no faith group or even someone who has stopped practising altogether. 

It’s a novel way for Catholics in the diocese to engage other people on the topic of the Catholic faith. So, put the kettle on for a synodal conversation in the Diocese of Dunkeld during the 40 days of Lent. 

Each conversation focuses on the essential question of the Synod: 

Based on your personal experience, what fills your heart and what breaks your heart about the Catholic Church (e.g., in your parish and beyond your parish)?

It’s not a debate. It’s not about giving a response. It’s not even a deep discussion. It’s an opportunity to talk to others about the faith in a relaxed and pleasant way. In fact it’s mainly about listening to the experience of your invited guests to try to understand and learn from them.

When all is said and done you are asked to share the thoughts of your group experience with:                   

or send them on to:                                                                                       Bishop Stephen Robson                                                                                                Curial Offices
30 Lawside Road, Dundee, DD3 6BJ

What is a synod?

Synod is from the Greek words:
syn= together and hodus= the way)

journeying together or walking together. 

Synods historically are church/ecclesial councils.

They are not a new idea in the history of the church but Since Vatican II when Pope Paul VI established the synod of bishops, different popes have convoked synods every few years to consult the bishops to pray, listen deeply, reflect, discuss, discern and reach consensus about matters concerning the church.  

The next Synod of Bishops will take place in 2023, but Pope Francis wants to open this synod to the whole of the People of God.

He believes that the People of God have a profound grasp of the faith, what we call  Sensus Fidelium,  and they must be listened to and so he invites us all to be involved in the Preparation for that Synod of Bishops next year.

The most important is a spiritual journey: Pope Francis says, ’‘If the Spirit is not present there will be no synod’

We are missionary pilgrims of God led by the Holy Spirit who can speak through anyone.  Requires /prayer, listening, reflecting, patience, tolerance to discern where the Holy Spirit may be leading the Church as it continues to evolve in our time.

Theme Synod in Synodality: Communion,Participation, Mission:   How we, as the Church of Christ, travel in communion cooperating with one another and not in competition-  are encouraged to participate – reach out to others-  no one  left behind on our mission to build stronger, more vibrant and hope filled communities living out the promises and responsibilities of our baptism as we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus.

The Pope sees this as a ‘Conversion Process’,  a way of consulting the faithful about the future of the church listening, reflecting and discerning what the Spirit is asking the Church to be: embrace reform, make changes and shape the future for the People of God in the 3rd millennium.    

In the Preparatory Document (32)  for the Synod Francis has these words for us which for me sum up what a synodal encounter is about.  Let’s read them together. 

The purpose of this Synod is to  inspire people:

to dream about the church we are called to be; to make people’s hopes flourish; to stimulate trust; to bind up wounds; to weave new and deeper relationships; to learn from one another; to build bridges; to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands….’
Pope Francis


It’s not easy and it can be tempting to be pessimistic and perhaps even cynical but we are a people of hope and Pope Francis has given us this opportunity now in this safe place to reveal what breaks our hearts and what dignifies us.

9.The pandemic has taught us that we cannot stand alone. We need each other. On our own we have little power. 

Stand together in solidarity. It’s about Unity not uniformity.

Reach out with kindness to different views, different faiths or no faith at all those who have left the fold, hurting or feeling excluded or judged.  The sheep that Jesus says in St John’s Gospel are not of this fold but will hear his voice. That’s the kind of Church that Jesus wants us to be.

10.‘Synodal Journey not a temporary or one-time experience of synodality, provides an opportunity for the entire People of God to work to create synodal parishes in their own communities going forward. It’s the beginning of a new way of being Church 

Put in practice in every parish starting now. Gathering the fruits of what the Spirit is saying to us here and now!

Pope Francis tells us ‘There is no need to create a new Church but to create a different Church.’

It is a challenge for us all, but one we must take, together, to continue to bring the Gospel message of Christ Jesus to others and ensure a dynamic future for the Church we love.

So as we journey together St Paul asks us to:

  • Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace that binds you together.’ Ephesians 4:2,3
  • We are entering upon a great project, and our responsibility for its success is as great as the project itself.
  • May the spirit of the living God fall afresh on all of us as we begin this journey together.

Parish Facilitators Booklet