Journeying Together: Cardinal DiNardo invites faithful to join in Synod process with new online survey available

April 12, 2022

A new survey is offering parishioners and non-parishioners a chance to join the local Synod process in the Archdiocese. (File photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Last month, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo shared a video message to the faithful encouraging participation in the local Synod process. To this date, more than 700 facilitators have been trained to host listening sessions at parishes and other venues around Galveston-Houston.

“We want to learn about your experiences in your family, in your parish and in your community,” Cardinal DiNardo said in the video message. “We want to know more about what matters most to you, about your joys and about the difficulties you may be encountering. Finally, we want to share and reflect on the many ways the Holy Spirit has been present to us — guiding us and our Church.”

For the Synod on Synodality (2021-2023), Pope Francis is inviting the faithful and those in the peripheries to engage with the process in following the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”

In the video message, Cardinal DiNardo said a synod session is “an opportunity to reflect and recollect with others in small groups … to be renewed in your participation in the life of the Church.”

Although the deadline for completing listening sessions was March 31, some additional listening sessions have been allowed to continue in April. In addition, an online survey is now available for those interested in sharing their experiences through that medium. Both Cardinal’s video invitation and the online survey can be found at

Margarito Cruz Jr., Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) chairperson, has been impressed with the positive feedback received from session and facilitator workshop attendees. “Many volunteered to also help out with the synodal response synthesis work that will eventually take place for the Archdiocese in the coming months,” he said.

Another APC member, Deacon Dennis Henderson of St. Laurence in Sugar Land, said the key element to effective listening sessions is in the name — simply listening to others.

“We are affirmed by these sharing experiences — there is nothing like having others hear you and actually listening to what you have to say,” he said. “Just giving people an opportunity to say what they think means so much. The sessions have provided a chance for so many to have a dialogue. You want the Holy Spirit to bring out what is in people’s hearts, and these listening sessions do just that.”

Outside of parish-hosted listening sessions, the Archdiocese hosted seven listening sessions for deacons and their wives at multiple parish locations; 10 listening sessions for Parish Catechetical Leaders (in three languages); and two listening sessions for Persons with Disabilities and families in English and Spanish.

Sister Francesca Kearns, CCVI, vicar for religious, has been active in facilitating and participating in listening sessions across all cultures and ages — from young adults to seniors — since last fall.

“The Synodal pathway calls us to new ways of being Church together,” Sister Kearns said. “The listening sessions for the Synod give us the opportunity to express our hopes and fears about how we might be part of making this dream a reality.”

Reflecting on her experiences with the listening sessions, Sister Kearns said there was both enthusiasm and anxiety expressed by participants, but as the sharing deepened, “there was the recognition that the Spirit was calling us to a different way of thinking and of being more trusting and working together for a better future. Many times, there was the recognition that none of us had the vision for the ideal way forward. Thus, there was a gradual development of our need to be open to how the Spirit might be leading us forward.”

Sister Kearns said session participants would often be enlightened on how to make their unique contribution and be willing to assume greater responsibility in working together with others.

“As the reflection on the sharing developed (during these sessions), there was a growing awareness that we experienced Synodality by doing it,” Sister Kearns said. “There was also a sense that as the people of God, we are called to assume more responsibility for what happens because we are the Church. The groups (ultimately realized) that listening together helped us to see things in a different way. There was a feeling of enthusiasm and an expressed desire that we have other listening sessions.”

For more information about the local Synod process and to take the survey, visit