An invitation to journey together during 2021-2023 Synod

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Since 1967, the Catholic Church has regularly convoked a Synod of Bishops. This is a time when bishops from all over the world gather in Rome to “journey together” and discuss issues of theological or pastoral significance in the life of the Church.

In the months ahead, in view of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, Pope Francis has invited all Catholics from around the world to come together to reflect on their experiences and share input on how the Church can best fulfill her mission in these current times. (Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit).

The Synod is not about changing Church teaching but about reading the signs of the times and listening to what the Holy Spirit is speaking into the hearts of Church leaders and the faithful. The theme is: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

"This Synod will focus on how the Church can better serve the world," said Bishop Robert Gruss.

 You are invited to give of your time and talent by serving in support and leadership roles during the listening sessions in 2022. Please click here to sign up.

Synod 2023 “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” was convoked by Pope Francis on October 10, 2021, in Rome.  The objective of the Synod is to listen as an entire people of God to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church.  Broad global participation of all her members is desired with the Diocesan Phase taking place between now and August 15, 2022.  Each parish is asked to facilitate consultations or listening sessions around the question:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together:” How is this “journeying together” happening in your particular Church?  What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

Bishop Gruss Discusses Synod and More During First Friday 

The Diocese of Saginaw has assembled the team below to prepare parishes and other ministries for the synod.  The preparation includes organizing efforts for consultations, training of group and local coordinators, and preparation of materials to run the sessions. 


Team Member Area of Responsibility
Joe Stong Co-contact person
Don Buchalski Co-contact person Parishes Vicariate 5
Beth Bauer Parishes Vicariate 1
Peg McEvoy Parishes Vicariate 2
Kellie Deming Parishes Vicariate 3
Deb Popielarz Parishes Vicariate 4
Deacon Gary Patelski Catholic Schools
Deacon Jim Damitio Deacons
Fr. Steve Gavit Priest
Sr. Mary Dolora Keating Religious Sisters
Sr. Janet Pewoski Directors of Parish Life
Deacon Larry Gayton Multicultural
Dr. Dan Osborn Ecumenism
Chris Pham Communications



Click on image for larger view or click here to download a pdfSynod Phases

A timeline for the Diocese of Saginaw is displayed here.  Steps one and two are completed and step three will take place on November 30, 2021.  Step four will include each parish assigning a group coordinator no later than December 17, 2021.  More information on roles and responsibilities and capabilities for a parish group coordinator will be coming in a future clergy note.  Training will take place during the month of January and then consultation sessions can be conducted until early May when a consolidated summary should be sent to be included in the Diocesan Report.

The Synod provides a unique opportunity for us to invite participation from all parishioners, occasional mass attendees, non-practicing Catholics, those on the periphery, and the broader community.  The feedback obtained at the parish level can serve as valuable input for your local efforts and planning future outreach and programs.  The Synod and the Disciple Maker Index (DMI) are two separate but complimentary efforts.  Together they give a powerful set of quantitative and qualitative data for our parish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on questions below or download PDF

How can I learn more about the Synod?

The Synod on Syondality was called by Pope Francis and information from the Vatican is available at The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has additional information on the Synod at The Diocese of Saginaw has local information on the Synod available at

When will I get to be involved in the Synod process?

The consultation sessions for the Synod will take place from mid-January through early May in most of our parishes. Watch for local announcement from your parish on dates and times for the consultation meetings.

Why do we have to wait so long to get started with the parish consultation sessions?

The Vatican outlined a ten-step roadmap to complete the Diocesan Phase of the Synod. A key part of the process is to take time for discernment of the path, followed by planning, preparing the leaders, and then providing orientation of local coordinators. We are on track and the parishes will have three-and-a-half months to complete the consultation process. A complete timeline for the Diocesan Phase for the Diocese of Saginaw is available at our website (

How is this effort different from the Discipleship Maker Index (DMI) survey we already completed?

The Synod and the DMI are two separate but complimentary activities. The DMI was an effort by the Diocese of Saginaw to gather quantitative data for our parishes and the diocese. The Synod is an effort coming from the Vatican to gather qualitative information for parishes, the diocese, and the universal church. Together they give us a powerful set of information to help guide future decisions for our parishes and the diocese.

Will materials be made available to aid parishes in performing the consultations?

Yes, the Diocesan Synodal Team is working on training and a toolkit to help parishes with the consultation process. Training for volunteers is set to take place starting in January 2022.

How do I volunteer to help with the Synod?

 You are invited to give of your time and talent by serving in support and leadership roles during the listening sessions in 2022. Please click here to sign up. 

How can I participate if my local parish does not offer face-to-face consultations sessions?

As parishes schedule consultation meetings, the diocesan website ( will be updated with dates and times of the events for people to attend. 

How do we get people who don’t come to church to participate in the Synod?

The ideal way to gather feedback on “journeying together” is to personally invite people to participate. Additionally, the Diocese of Saginaw and local parishes will encourage attendance through various channels including websites, Flocknotes, social media, and bulletin announcements. For those who wish to be heard but will not attend a face-to-face session, an on-line survey option will be available at the diocesan website (

How will the information collected be used?

The information from the consultations will be consolidated at the parish level and the local staff is highly encouraged to share this with parishioners and develop action plans based on the feedback. All the information collected at the diocesan level will be consolidated and a ten-page summary will be presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in August 2022. The USCCB will again consolidate information to be part of a Synod of Bishops at the Vatican 2023

All dioceses are encouraged to offer an opening Mass. Bishop Gruss celebrated the Opening Mass of the Synod on Synodality on Wednesday, October 20 at 6 p.m., at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw, you can view the Homily from the Mass below.

Pope Francis’ hope is that this will be a time of encounter, listening, discernment and response to the Holy Spirt. In his homily message to open the synod, he shared an image of walking together on the same road.  

“Let us have a good journey together,” Pope Francis said. He shared his hope that we would be “pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit.”  

Bishop Gruss has appointed Joe Stong, Director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, and Don Buchalski, Vicariate Liaison and Coordinator of Evangelization, to oversee the diocesan synodal process. Your involvement in this process is both needed and desired. More information on how you are being asked to participate will be shared with all parishes, and here on this website, once it is available.

Please join Bishop Gruss in praying for this synodal journey.


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