History of SYNODS

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What will this Synod be?

This Synod on Synodality has three main phases, two preparatory and one final:

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The Synodal Prayer

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History of Synods:

Since the earliest moments in the Church’s history, the “assembly” (σύνοδος, synodos) of her bishops as shepherds of the faithful, and in union with them, has been a mechanism for discernment both of God’s will for the Church and of the meaning of the Deposit of the Faith (the saving truth revealed to the apostles by the Lord, and committed to their care). The earliest “Synod” can be found in the so-called “Council of Jerusalem” (cf. Acts 15:2-35) at which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Apostolic College, with St. Peter and under his headship, discussed the integration of Jewish and Gentile believers in the one Christian community. This earliest assembly of the Church’s hierarchy provided a Scriptural basis for later developments in Synods, both local and universal. Since Scripture itself attests to the ability of the Church to gather in Synod with and under St. Peter’s primacy, so the Catholic Church in both East and West has continued this anointed means by which we may call on the Lord for guidance: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20, NAB). The most recent successors of St. Peter—Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis—have each held “Synods of Bishops” at which the bishops as successors of the Apostles, in union with the pope, have discussed issues of great importance for the life of the Church. Following upon these discussions, the popes have then promulgated their “Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations”. These teaching documents are the authoritative decrees that conclude the work of each Synod, and in the recent past these exhortations have been notable both for their profundity and for the effect they have had on a wide range of issues such as, proclaiming the Gospel (Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi); family and married life (John Paul II, Familiaris consortio; Francis, Amoris laetitia); the lay vocation and mission in the Church (John Paul II, Christifideles laici); the formation of priests (John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis); the importance of the Bible, God’s word, in the Church (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini); the Church in Africa (Benedict XVI, Africae munus); young people (Francis, Christus vivit); and most recently, the Church in Amazonia (Francis, Querida Amazonia), to name just a few. And now once again, the Holy Father has called for a “Synod of Bishops” on the question of “Synodality” itself.

Bishop Vann’s Synodal Message in English
Mensaje sinodal del Señor Obispo Vann
Bishop Vann’s Synodal Message in ASL

What Can I Do Now?

  • Pray and reflect on the question:
    How is God leading us as a Church to walk more faithfully together in communion, participation and mission? Then respond to the survey form below with some comments on your reflection.

Sharing your thoughts

Please feel free to offer your reflections:

Communion, participation, mission are all forms of journeying together:
for me Communion means…..
for me Participation means….
for me Mission means…..




    The Synodal Prayer: “Adsumus Domine Sancte Spiritus”

    The Holy Father asks all of us to pray in a particular way to the Holy Spirit during this time, using the ancient prayer, Adsumus Domine Sancte Spiritus (We are present before thee, O Lord Holy Spirit). Pope St. John XXIII asked that the Council Fathers at the Second Vatican Council recite this venerable prayer in Latin daily as a means of invoking the presence of the Spirit in the Church’s deliberations. In the Diocese of Orange, we are providing an original translation of this traditional prayer into English exactly as it was said at Vatican II, and we would like to encourage everyone to join in this prayer together as we begin our synodal journey as the Church of Orange.


    We are present before thee, O Lord Holy Spirit

    We are present though we are weighed down by the gravity of our sins.
    Yet in thy name, we are gathered for a special task.
    Come to us, be with us, and deign to enter our hearts.
    Teach us what we should do and where we should go,
    and show us what we ought to accomplish,
    that with thy help we may have the strength to please thee in all things.
    Be thou the only inspiration and perfecter of our judgments, thou who alone with
    God the Father and His Son hast a glorious name.

    Suffer us not to disturb the order of justice, thou who lovest equity above all else.
    Let not ignorance draw us into darkened ways; let not partiality sway us; let not
    the taking of gifts nor the respect of persons corrupt our minds.
    But unite us to thee efficaciously by the gift of thy grace alone, that we may be one
    in thee and in nothing deviate from the truth.
    Wherefore, being gathered in thy name, may we hold fast in all things the course
    of justice by the rudder of piety,
    so that even here our verdict may dissent from thee in nothing, and in the age to
    come our good deeds may obtain for us an everlasting reward.

    Amen.