Memo to the Priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco on the 2021-2023 Synod

Dear Brother Priests,

As you know, the Holy Father has convoked a global synod. Pope Francis is inviting us to consider how we journey together and focus on “communion, participation, and mission.” The first phase of this universal effort involves a diocesan phase that runs between Advent 2021 and April 2022. The Archdiocese, along with every diocese around the world, has been asked to engage the People of God in the gathering of feedback and promoting listening and dialoguing together. The themes of these efforts will be synthesized by each diocese and submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by April 1, 2022. This submission will then initiate the next phase of the Synod globally. 

The theme of synodality is important and daunting as is this synodal timeline. In May, all dioceses were asked to appoint a diocesan point person. Given his role as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia as well as his recent JCL thesis research on the topic of diocesan synods, I asked Fr. Summerhays to serve in this capacity. Last month, we received all the instructions from the Vatican asking us to engage in consultation beginning as early as Advent. 

Given the importance of this project and the accelerated timeline as well as the unanimous support of the Presbyteral Council at its October 7th meeting, we decided to engage the apostolate, Catholic Leadership Institute to assist us in reaching the largest number of people as possible in a relatively short period of time. Catholic Leadership Institute has been serving bishops, priests, and lay leaders for the past 30 years and has expertise in feedback gathering and facilitation. They worked with us to develop a two-phase approach that we believe will respond to the Synod’s invitation as well as provide helpful resources for our parishes beyond the Synod. The first phase will be a survey of the faithful on their discipleship and relationship with the Church. This existing survey has been developed and tested by Catholic Leadership Institute and is now available in 19 languages. Many of the questions align with the themes and questions raised by the Synod. The second phase will include a mixture of onsite and virtual sessions held throughout the Archdiocese with various groups of the faithful to allow us to dig deeper into these themes in prayer and conversation. 

We will be asking all parishes to participate in this effort of the Universal Church through sharing the survey at the parish level and encouraging parishioners to participate in one of 25 Synod engagement sessions in 2022. 

When the Presbyteral Council recently was presented with the proposed partnership with Catholic Leadership Institute, the representative members, like myself, were excited for the potential fruit of these tools and likewise comforted by the minimal burden it will place on you as pastors. The Archdiocese will be funding this effort and should your parish want to continue to work with Catholic Leadership Institute through these tools beyond the Synod, there will be an opportunity for you to partner with them individually. 

Thank you so much for leading in the spirit of synodality that the Holy Father rightly affirms. I am delighted for the opportunity to journey together in faith in a more intentional manner as an Archdiocese, and I look forward to connecting with you again soon. 

Sincerely Yours in Christ, 

Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone 
Archbishop of San Francisco