I would like to thank all who responded during the Consultation regarding the theme for our 2019 Synod. People’s responses came in many forms and were grouped into topics by members of the Synod Commission. In turn, Parish Pastoral Councils were invited to prioritise these topics according to their relevance to the lives of their parishes, and more than half did so.
The Synod Commission then discerned the Synod theme, based upon the prioritized topics and the responses of parishioners in the initial consultation.
The Synod Theme
I have accepted the Synod Commission proposal that the 2019 Synod theme be:
Fulfilling our Mission as a Diocese
The mission of our Diocese, in the words of Jesus, is 
…to bring good news to the poor…liberty to captives…sight to the blind…
freedom to those oppressed.
These words are to be understood at two levels. The first is the obvious level.
However, they are to be understood also in the context of Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God which is dependent upon a personal relationship with him. It includes the means he gave his Church to free the spiritually poor, blind and those lacking inner freedom such as Sacraments and Prayer.
The Focus issues
A Synod is about pastoral practice. Hence, such a broad theme needs to be narrowed to specific issues which emerged through the consultation of everyone who felt moved to comment. These issues were identified by the majority of individuals and parishes, and are posed in question form for our Lenten consultation this year. They are:
- How can we support the development of our parishes as praying communities?
- How can we as faithful communities support the development of shared and transparent leadership in parishes?
- How can we support our priests in their ministry amongst us?
- What supports do our young people need to engage more in parish communities?
The next step in the Synod Process (February – April 2019)
Parishioners are now invited to give their views on these four questions until 26 April 2019.
Each is important for the effectiveness of our Diocese – its mission across the southern part of our State.
There will be two options for people to participate in this stage of the consultation.
- Click on the link on the Synod page of our Diocesan website https://bunburycatholic.org.au/diocesan-synod/
- Collect a paper copy of the questions from your parish office and send written responses to Rebecca Ward PO Box 2005 BUNBURY 6231. Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
There were many other issues identified by people across the Diocese in our first round of consultation. No doubt, some will be suggested again for our 2021 and later synods.
Some people identified needs which can be worked on in 2019 in other ways – such as the needs of the elderly, the Church’s response to child sexual abuse and great collaboration between parishes and Catholic schools. Some issues are addressed better in ways other than through a synod.
I would like to thank the Synod Commission for its work to date during these early consultations. I pray too that as many as possible will contribute to the Lenten consultation this year. And let us all continue to pray for the Spirit’s guidance as we look to the future. May the Lord bless our preparation for this, the first of our future diocesan synods.
God bless you all,
Bishop Gerard J Holhan
 Luke 4:18