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Synod Tools & Resources

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 Small Group Reflection Guide

Note:  This synod-style small group reflection model is an adaptation from 2 sources:

This guide can be adapted for non-profit, participant use. 

Before the Gathering: Select 1 question topic and make available to everyone…

  • A copy of the question to be discussed at the gathering

  • Any short background information page and/or related scripture for prayerful reflection (The Australian Bishops’ website has resources in multiple languages)

The Main Question:  List your selected question here.


Gather in groups of 20 or less, each led by a facilitator, begin with introductions

Step 1:   Pray Together The Official Synod 2023 prayer

Step 2:  Silently Read the Question and Reflect                               5 minutes of silence

  • What is your personal experience (or lack of)  in this area? Reflect and write in silence.

  • Identify your own personal story.  Avoid second-hand information, social media info, etc.

Step 3:  Share and Listen                    Each person speaks for a maximum of 3 minutes

  • Tell a story of your experience in this area. (take turns, listen with open hearts)

Step 4: Silent Reflection, Listen to the Spirit                           5 more minutes of silence

  • Reflect: How has another perspective influenced your own? (reflect and write in silence)

  • Ponder: As a local Church, what changes are needed to walk more closely together?

  • Consider: Is the Spirit calling us to new paths? Locally? Nationally? Globally?

Step 5: Share and Listen                       Each person speaks for an additional 2 minutes

  • Share:  How has another perspective influenced your own?
    (show that you have listened deeply)

  • As a local Church, what changes are needed to be able to walk more closely together?

  • In what ways may the Spirit be calling us to new paths? Locally? Nationally? Globally?

Step 6: Discerning a Synthesis                                                                          20 minutes

  • A Facilitator–led, free-form discussion to identify the key issues that have surfaced.

  • As a group, identify at least 1 issue that can be addressed in your local faith community.

  • Choose a group member to create a summary of your listening session (300 words or less).

Step 7:  Pray and Respond

  • Pray: Close with any prayer of gratitude.

  • Respond: Submit your summary to your parish or diocesan Synod contact person.

Adaptation 1:  What if my Parish wants to address several of the Synod questions?

The synod preparation documents encourage quality, listening/discussion gatherings. This can only be done when a single question is addressed at a time. If a parish or larger group wanted to address multiple questions, they could host a Synod Reflection Day. All 10 of the Synod questions could be introduced at the opening gathering. Participants could choose the 2 questions that most interest them. Two sessions (morning/afternoon) would be held with small groups available for each of the 10 questions. Participants would join the two listening/discussion sessions of their choice.

Adaptation 2:  What if my Parish / Diocese is not hosting Synod listening sessions?

The synod preparation documents indicate that the Vatican will provide a way for individuals and individual groups to submit their responses directly to the synod organizers. Watch the official Synod website and this website for updates.

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Speak Boldly
Listen Carefully

Austen Ivereigh shares his experience of a small group listening session at the Vatican's Synod opening
from: Commonweal Magazine

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Official Synod Tools:
 for responding 
to the Synod Questions

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USCCB Guidelines
Official US Bishops' tools
for the U.S. A. Diocesan
Listening Phase

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guide for parishes
by Debbie Stollery

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Youth/Young Adult
listening model
by Bob McCarty

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A Synodal Model
created by
Moser & McCarty