Burlington, Vt. — Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne has announced plans to convene the first diocesan synod since 1962.
Its purpose is to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont and to establish particular laws and policies to do so. This will be at least a yearlong project and is "a serious undertaking by the church," he said at the chrism Mass April 11. "It is not a simple convening of meetings."
The bishop will be convener and presider, and the membership of the synod will contain both ex-officio members of the clergy and laity as well as representatives of religious communities, lay fraternities and at-large representation such as young people, parents and minority communities.
Before the sessions of the synod are convened — the bishop hopes that will be next spring — all of the members of the Catholic community will be invited to participate in a preparation process in which they will be asked to pray, to listen, to learn and to discern what the future pastoral plan for spreading the "good news" of the Church in Vermont should be. This will take place on the parish level, the deanery level and the diocesan level. It will include personal meetings but could also make use of new digital and social media means of communication.
After this work of preparation is completed, the bishop will convene the synod to meet in the necessary sessions to complete the work of discernment and planning and to then enact the policies, laws and directives to carry out that plan in the Vermont Catholic Church.
"I will seek input from all. I will listen to all. And I will discern with you all," he said.