A springtime of renewal for the diocese

February 2014

Dear Friends in Christ:

Our recent snowy days make me long for the coming of Spring, with its warm weather and the new life that comes when nature wakes up from its winter slumber. However, they also reminded me about our common desire to foster a Springtime of Renewal for our diocese. At the heart of that renewal will be a rebirth of fervor, joy and commitment to the divine mission that the Lord Jesus has asked us to accomplish in Fairfield County.

Last month, I mentioned to you my desire to convoke a diocesan-wide synod. Since then, many of you hearing about it have expressed your great enthusiasm and desire to participate. Some of you have asked what a diocesan synod is. To answer briefly, it is a year-long process of consultation and planning wherein the clergy, religious and the faithful of the diocese come together to discuss and advise the bishop regarding how to make our Church more responsive to our current needs and to plan our future together.

After consulting the College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council, as well as many individuals and groups, I believe that the time is ripe for a diocesan synod. This is the time when we must come together united by one task—the task of building a bridge from where we are today to where we wish to be in five years as the Catholic Church in Fairfield County. The time has come to listen to one another, to ponder various questions and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to chart the path for our future. There is so much we can share: our various experiences, talents, and solutions to meet the challenges before us!

Therefore, asking the grace of our loving God, I have decided to convoke the Fourth Diocesan Synod with a decree that will be published on February 22, 2014 —the Solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter. I entrust this Synod to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, whose intercession I humbly invoke. In addition, I ask the intercession of two new saints: Saint John XXIII who convoked the Second Vatican Council and Saint John Paul II who further carried out the implementation of the conciliar decisions. The theme of our Synod is Building a Bridge to the Future Together!

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Msgr. Dariusz Zielonka as the director of the Synod, whose priestly zeal, competence and service will be of invaluable help to me in guiding the work of the Synod in the months ahead. In the coming week, I also look forward to announcing the members of the Synod Committee who will help Msgr. Dariusz and me to organize the Synod.

The Synod is a diocesan-wide consultation. Therefore, in addition to a local consultation process that every parish and school will be asked to complete, there will be five vicariate listening sessions this Spring where I will be present to listen to your concerns, comments and suggestions. There will also be a number of listening sessions for the youth of the Diocese, as well as for the Spanish-speaking community in our county. These sessions will be open to the public. Please check the diocesan website and parish announcements for more information about them. In addition, you will be able to submit your comments electronically via the diocesan website. Your input will help me and the committee to carefully choose the main topics that will be discussed during the four general sessions of the Synod.

In the coming weeks I will approve the process of selecting delegates to the general sessions that will take place between September 19, 2014 and September 19, 2015. The fifth, and final session will not only summarize the findings of the Synod, but will also open the implementation of the five-year plan for the Diocese of Bridgeport. The delegates to the general sessions will come from all parishes and schools of the Diocese and they will represent various groups and organizations present in our Church. More information about the selection process will be coming in the next few weeks.

As you can see, a diocesan synod is a major event in the life of the local church. I hope that you are as excited about it as I am. Since we all are looking forward to the start of Spring, I invite you also to pray for the coming of a Springtime of Renewal for our Church in Fairfield County!