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This Synod on Synodality has three main phases, two preparatory and one final: (1) the preparatory diocesan phase (October 2021-August 2022) in each diocese/eparchy or ordinariate throughout the world; (2) the preparatory national phase at the level of the Episcopal Conferences and Eastern Catholic Patriarchal/Episcopal Synods (August 2022-March 2023); and (3) the Synod of Bishops itself in Rome (October 2023).

As the Vademecum, or handbook, for the Synod describes it, the diocesan phase “is an opportunity for parishes and dioceses to encounter, experience, and live out the synodal journey together, thus discovering or developing synodal tools and pathways that are best suited for their local context, which will ultimately become the new style of the local Churches on the path of Synodality” (V §3.1). As such, during the global diocesan phase, the voices of Catholics of all walks of life—lay people, religious, and clergy—will be heard, according to the manner set up by each diocesan/eparchial/ordinariate bishop. Each diocese is different, and it is the task of the local ordinary—in our case, Bishop Kevin W. Vann—to discern the best method of organizing this consultation of the faithful.

Through consultation across the Diocese, we hope to learn from the real-life experiences of the faithful in Orange County, and to present these findings in the ten-page final “synthesis” document that the Holy See requires of each local church.

Consultation will be conducted in three ways:

1. Each pastor will identify a group of six individuals representing various backgrounds (married ((including the divorced/annulled)), ethnic minorities, single, young, old, and those with special needs or interests). This group will participate in an in-person consultation at the deanery level (groupings of approximately 10 parishes).

2. The synod team will conduct 200+ one-on-one conversations with individuals of various backgrounds and collect input to be incorporated into the findings of the consultative process.

3. A survey available on this Synod webpage will provide opportunity for the entire church of Orange to reflect and respond to the questions of the Synod. This input will be incorporated into the findings of the consultative process.