“…the purpose of this Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but to ‘plant dreams, draw forth prophesies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands’” (Preparatory Document, 32).

The word ‘synod’ says it all: it means ‘journeying together.’ The Book of Acts is the story of a journey that started in Jerusalem, passed through Samaria and Judea, then on to the regions of Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, ending up in Rome. A journey that reveals how God’s word, and the people who heed and put their faith in that word, journey together. The word of God journeys with us. Everyone has a part to play; no one is a mere extra. This is important: everyone has a part to play. The Pope, the Cardinal Vicar and the auxiliary bishops are not more important than the others; no, all of us have a part to play and no one can be considered simply as an extra.” (Address of his Holiness Pope Francis to the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, Sept. 2021)

During lent 2024, we are excited to host and invite many of you to attend the 2024 Regional Listening Sessions with the bishops of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We will submit our synthesis in April and the USCCB will provide a national synthesis in May 2024. This feedback will be used in for the Second Session of the Synodal Assembly (October 2024).

In the meantime, we will focus on formation and encourage the use of local listening sessions for ongoing practice of synodality.

What has happened until the current stage?

In a spiritual sense, discernment is the art of interpreting in what direction the desires of the heart lead us, without letting ourselves be seduced by what leads us to where we never wanted to go. Discernment involves reflection and engages both the heart and the head in making decisions in our concrete lives to seek and find the will of God.” (Vademecum 2.2)

Each parish, school or group who hosted a local listening session submitted a local report.  The archdiocesan Synod Team distilled the local and regional reports into one 10-page report that was submitted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pastors will be encouraged to publish or share their local reports with the local community.

Locally, the reports are not the end of this process. Archbishop Hartmayer has asked all parishes as well as each community each community that participated to share two or three ways they will continue to explore or support synodality. The Archdiocese of Atlanta’s bishops and Synod Team have entered a discernment phase, rooted in prayer, to determine what next steps the Holy Spirit may be calling the Church in Atlanta to take.

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