SCRANTON – Calling the moment “historic,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera celebrated an opening Mass for the 2023 Synod of Bishops locally on Oct. 17 at the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Faithful from around the diocese participated in the Mass in-person and via Catholic Television.

“We join with dioceses from around the world at Pope Francis’ request to begin a process of reflection, a process of dialogue and a process of discernment, as we as a local Church, contribute our perspective, our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our prayers, to a worldwide Synod of Bishops that will convene in Rome in 2023,” Bishop Bambera said.

Over the next six months, the Diocese of Scranton will encourage all people – including those in parishes, schools and other diocesan structures – as well as those who have fallen away from the Church or are on the margins of society to offer their thoughts on various aspects of Church life. The process will include both in-person listening sessions and an online survey that will be made available to everyone in the Diocese of Scranton.

“From the earliest days of Christianity as noted in the Acts of the Apostles, the Church has sought to listen to the voice of Christ alive in each member of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Bambera said during his homily. “Today, under the leadership of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and with the Church throughout the world, we begin here in the Diocese of Scranton, that process of listening; listening to the hearts of the people of God and the movements of the Holy Spirit found therein.”

After the local listening sessions are complete, the Diocese of Scranton – and all other dioceses in the United States – will submit a summary of local discussions by April 1 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That information will then be synthesized at the national level and forwarded to the Vatican.

“By virtue of our Baptism, all of us are called to be active participants in the life of the Church through discernment, participation and co-responsibility,” Bishop Bambera noted. “By means of a process of careful listening, our participation in the Synod process will hopefully enable us to better understand how the entire Christian community is called to participate in the life of our Church and how that shared participation among our members might grow in the future.”

In addition to sending the summary of listening sessions to the USCCB, the Diocese of Scranton also plans to utilize the feedback provided locally.

As he reflected on Jesus’ life and ministry, Bishop Bambera reminded the faithful that He spent a great deal of time listening.

“The Holy Father’s hope, which is my prayer as well, is that the experience of this unique worldwide opportunity will bring about a new springtime for listening, discernment, dialogue and decision-making in our Church,” the bishop noted.