Diocesan Synod Opens with Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King Oct. 17

Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv. addresses a gathering at Hehman Hall for the diocesan kick-off of the Synodal Journey 2021-2023.

LEXINGTON – Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv. celebrated Mass to open the Diocesan Synod on Sunday, Oct. 17, kicking off the local stage of a global process for the Catholic Church, convened by Pope Francis.


The Diocesan Synod is the local component of the 2021-2023 Synodal Journey announced by the Vatican, which Pope Francis opened on Oct. 10. Following the Oct. 17 Mass, Bishop Stowe presented an overview of what a synod is and what this process means for the whole Catholic Church.


In early September, the Vatican published a preparatory document to help local churches get ready for this process. Local resources for the Diocesan Synod will also soon be available online at www.cdlex.org.


In his opening remarks as to what a synod actually is, Bishop John pointed to the inaugural gathering of the early Church known as the Council of Jerusalem, circa 50 A.D. This primordial synod brought together the original bishops – the Apostles – along with both Jewish and Gentile converts to engage in dialogue as to the ongoing direction of the Church. The hallmarks of that synod – and, indeed any synod – are not only fraternal dialogue, but hearts open to discernment and conversion.


Since the 11th century, when the Latin and Orthodox churches split in what is known as the Great Schism, the Western Church wandered away from a “synodal mindset” which the Eastern Church embraced, and continues to embrace to this day, according to the Bishop. What resulted in Roman Catholicism is a more hierarchical and clerical approach to the vision of the Church that often excludes the lay faithful.


The 2021-2023 Synodal Journey is being convened not to make decisions for the Universal Church or to vote on an agenda of issues, but to discern the direction of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. On the diocesan level, there will be gatherings of clergy and laity – open to all – to discuss and discern our ongoing journey as Catholics. The findings will be collected and collated for presentation to Rome in late March.