Synod for a Synodal Church

Communion, Participation, Mission

On Oct. 10, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica for the solemn opening of the Synod of Bishops, which is taking place in three stages over the next two years (Oct. 2021-April 2023). We are participating along with the other Diocese across the world in this very important undertaking in Church history. 

It is the Holy Father’s prayer is that through this synodal process of gathering together to prayerfully listen, reflect, and share dialogue on our lived experiences as Pilgrim People, the Church will discern “..which processes can help Her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open Herself to mission.” (PD 1) 

The fundamental question our Holy Father is asking us, as People of God, to consider is as follows:

“A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow in ‘journeying together’?” (PD 27)

What is a Synod?

The question the world is asking is “What is a synod?” The answer, simply put, is the Church journeying together. Quite literally, Synod comes from two words meaning “way” and “together.” The church since her very beginning established the practice of coming together at various levels to make decisions on important matters.

Pope Francis is asking us (laity, religious, deacons, priests, and bishops) to gather as the early church did to describe and discern the movements of the Holy Spirit in the Church today. By gathering together to prayerfully reflect, listen, share, and dialogue, we seek to understand how we are journeying together and discern how we can do it better. 

After several months of Synod Prayer and Discernment Sessions and the Self-Guided Synod Prayer and Discernment Survey, our Catholic Diocese of Memphis recently submitted a Synod Diocesan Report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops based on input received from across our four Deaneries at many of our parishes, missions, schools and other West Tennessee groups. Our Diocesan Synod Team, led by Sam Mauck, Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation for our Diocese, reviewed the Synod Diocesan Report with Bishop David P. Talley and then sent it to the U.S. Bishops. The submission completes Phase One of the Synod Process for our Diocese. Here’s our Report: SynodDiocesanReportMemphis.

Next Step

The Synod Process is now in the Second Phase with groups working to synthesizes Diocesan Reports into Region Summaries by the end of this summer. Our Catholic Diocese of Memphis is part of Region V, which includes our state of Tennessee (three Dioceses) along with Kentucky (three Dioceses and one Archdiocese), Louisiana (six Dioceses and one Archdiocese), Mississippi (two Dioceses) and Alabama (one Diocese and one Archdiocese). This past Fall 2021, Pope Francis asked Dioceses all over the world to take part in this Synod Process that will culminate with a celebration in Rome in October 2023 (Phase Three).


Here’s a bit more of the Synod Process…on May 21, 2021, Pope Francis announced to the Church that the Synod of Bishops (postponed due to the pandemic) would be preceded by a Synod Process that includes listening to all baptized in every Diocese before the Bishops gather again in the Fall 2023. In comments about the Synod Process, Cardinal Mario Grech, Head of the Vatican’s Office of the Synod of Bishops, said the change from an event into a process was chosen because this was an excellent time for a wider participation from the people of God in a decision-making process that affects the whole Church and everyone in the Church. God willing, one of the key aspects of the Synod is that we might all understand that a decision-making process in the Church always begins with listening, because only in this way can we understand how and where the Holy Spirit wants to lead the Church.


The Synod Process has Three Phases in two years (October 2021 to October 2023) and the word Synod refers to certain types of important church meetings and the root meaning has to do with journeying together, walking together in the way of Our Lord.

  • Oct. 9-10, 2021: Pope Francis opens the Synod Process Three Phase event from the Vatican.
  • Oct. 16-17, 2021: Each Church, including our Memphis Diocese, solemnly opens the Synod of Bishops.
  • Fall 2021-Summer 2022 (Phase One): The first phase was held in Dioceses. Each Diocese conducted meetings with local Catholics and produced a Synod Diocesan Report that was submitted to the U.S. Bishops. In a period of discernment, each Region reviews the Reports and composes its own document to submit to the Vatican’s office for the Synod of Bishops. Vatican officials will create a first draft of the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris (working document) from the submitted Reports by this Fall 2022.
  • Fall 2022-Summer 2023 (Phase Two): In the second phase, Bishops will meet at the Continental level. They will gather on each Continent to create a Report about their discussions and submit them to the Vatican. A second draft of the Instrumentum will be created from these Reports and released by Summer 2023.
  • October 2023 (Phase Three): For the third and final phase, the Bishops will meet in Rome for a celebration of the Synod Process.

Phase One

The results of Phase One – Synod Instrumentum Laboris – are contained in the documents listed here.

FAQ National Synthesis

Highlights – US Synod

Synod Next Steps

Talking Points National Synthesis

US National Synthesis 2021-2023 Synod (Spanish)

US National Synthesis 2021-2023 Synod

North American Synod Report

Memphis Synod Report

For additional information on the Synod Process, click on the following link: CDOMSynodProcess.

¡Adelante! Going Forward Together, On Mission…That All May Be One (John 17:21)!

What did we do locally?

  • February 10 – St. Louis’ Parish at 6:30pm
  • February 10 – St. Mary’s Parish in Jackson at 6:30pm
  • February 17 – St. Patrick’s Parish at 6:30pm
  • February 17 – Holy Angels Parish in Dyersburg at 6:30pm. BILINGUAL
  • February 17 – St. Philip Parish at 6:00pm
  • February 22 – St. Jude Parish in Martin 6:15pm SPANISH ONLY
  • February 24 – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish at 6:30pm
  • February 24 – Immaculate Conception Parish in Union City at 6:00pm
  • March 10 – Church of the Ascension 6:30pm SPANISH ONLY
  • March 24 – Church of the Incarnation 6:30pm
  • March 24 – St. Augustine Parish – 6:30pm
  • March 17-31 – Online Self-Guided Payer and Discernment Session – See the link below.

Please click on the link to start the Online Self-Guided Prayer and Discernment Session Click here for Online Prayer Session

The Diocese of Memphis held Prayer and Discernment Sessions to support the work of the Synod throughout all of West Tennessee. These sessions begin in February 2022 and lasted through March. 

Where can I learn more?

Check out these links for more information about the Synod for a Synodal Church:

Who are your Diocesan Synod Team Leaders?

Sam Mauck, Diocesan Contact

Irma Hernandez, Catholic Church of the Ascension

Kelley Henderson, St. Peter Catholic Church

Sr. Mary Lawrence Wright, St. Paul Church and School

Ron Redwing, St. Augustine Catholic Church

Yissel Carroll, St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church

Kiki Hall, St. Michael Catholic Church

Who can I contact?

Contact Sam Mauck, Diocesan Contact for the Synod for a Synodal Church at synod@cc.cdom.org

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