Category Archives: Synod 2021-2024

A Message from Bishop Stephen

Dear Sisters & Brothers,

In order to grow as a synodal Church it is important that we all have a chance to pray and discern how the Holy Spirit is inviting us to grow in mission in our parishes and communities. To facilitate this, I together with others, offer an initial Diocesan vision for your prayerful reflection.

Our discerned Diocesan commitments are:
To Walk with Jesus and Enable Others to Encounter Him;
To grow as One Diocesan Family- Rebuilding Relationships;
Forming and Developing People for Mission;
Living Justly and Caring for Our Common Home.

Each of these commitments are developed in the vision. It is not my intention to impose this vision. It is offered for further reflection and I invite all of our parishes and communities to prayerfully reflect on them. We offer accompanying resources and support to enable this reflection. Please contact your parish office if you would like hard copies of these materials which are all available on the diocesan website.

With assurance of prayers, + Stephen

Synod Meeting: Structures and Decision Making

We’re holding a series of meetings to talk about some of the issues raised in the summary document from the Synod Assembly in Rome last October. The third meeting this Sunday 25th February at 2.30pm, at St. Cuthbert’s, and the subject will be ‘Structures and Decision Making’.  

Please come along and share your ideas on the following questions: 

The Synod Assembly agreed that ‘synodality represents the future’, and is an essential part of ‘advising, discerning and decision making’ in the Church. The Assembly also called for obligatory Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils. How should we take forward a synodal approach (including Conversations in the Spirit and listening to those on the margins) in our Diocese? And how can we best use this approach in our Partnership and our parishes?

Synod Meeting: Ministry

We’re holding a series of meetings to talk about some of the issues raised in the summary document from the Synod Assembly in Rome last October. The second meeting will be on Sunday 11th February at 2.30pm, at St. Cuthbert’s, and the subject will be ‘Ministry and Co-responsibility’.  

Please come along and share your ideas on the following questions: 

The Synod Assembly said that ‘it is necessary for all the baptised to commit themselves to the reciprocal exercise of their vocation, charism, and ministry’ and talks about co-responsibility for our mission. It asks that the church explores further the formation of priests, the permanent diaconate, the increasing role of lay people in ministry and the possible need for new ministries. What do we think are the priorities? And how can the priests, deacons and lay people of our Partnership best work together?

Synod meeting: Formation

We’re planning a series of meetings to talk about some of the issues raised in the summary document from the Synod Assembly in Rome last October. The first meeting will be this, Sunday 28th January at 2.30pm, and the subject will be ‘Formation’.

Please come along and share your ideas on the following questions:

Many people have said that they have not had the chance to learn more about their faith since they left school. The Synod Assembly suggested more formation in subjects from Vatican 2 to the church’s teaching on social issues and relationships. But what should be our priority locally? And how should we go about this formation?

Synodality: the Next Steps

12 months ago we had several local meetings to discuss the Synod on Synodality. We had some good discussions and were able to contribute to the synthesis which our Diocese sent in. During October, the Assembly of the Synod on Synodality met with Pope Francis in Rome and they have now published their report. Once again, we have the opportunity to share our thoughts, to listen to others and to make a contribution to the Synod.

We’ll be holding a series of discussions, and the first will be at 2.30pm this Sunday 3rd December in the parish room. We’ll be joined by Avril Baigent, who is a Director of the School for Synodality and synod co-lead for the Diocese of Northampton. Avril will be talking about Conversations in the Spirit, and sharing some advice on how to get the most from our meetings.

You can also take part in the meeting via Zoom; contact Fr Andrew on parish.priest@stcuthberts-durham.org.uk for login details.

Synod on Synodality: Reflections

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP led the retreat for those involved in the Synod in Rome. He gave 6 reflections. They are each half an hour long, and you can listen to them on YouTube. (Some of the recordings include morning prayer for the retreatants, and the reflection starts half way through).

If you would prefer to read the transcripts of the reflections they are available on these links:

1. Hoping against Hope

2. At Home in God and God at Home in Us

3. Friendship

4. Conversation on the Way to Emmaus

5. Authority

6. The Spirit of Truth

Synod 2021-23: Submission for England & Wales

The National Synthesis, reflecting on Synod reports from all round England and Wales, has now been published by the Bishops’ Conference on their website. The Bishops of England and Wales are gathering to discern their response to this National Synthesis.  Their work, together with the synthesis document itself, will be sent to the Synod Office in Rome as the formal submission to the Synod from England and Wales. 

Synod 2021-23: Finchale Partnership Summary

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our discussions as part of the Synod process. Our discussions have now been included in a summary for the Partnership, and the summary has been submitted to the Diocese, where it will be used, together with contributions from other Partnerships and Diocesan groups, as the Bishop prepares his report forour Diocese.

You can read the Partnership summary by following the link below, and the Diocesan document will also be published when it is submitted in April.

Synod 2021-23: Join the Conversation

Last weekend, Partnerships across the Diocese sent people to join Bishop Robert for a morning of prayer, talking and listening, and to feedback on what they have heard during the last few months of our Diocesan Synod process.   There was a lot of energy in the room, a joyful atmosphere, and people described “an overwhelming feeling of the Holy Spirit at work”; “It has been uplifting and inspiring..”; “So many people with so many really good things to talk about..”;  “Coming along today has been a real joy.”

Bishop Robert said, “We’ve had a very fruitful morning… we go forward trusting each other, and with a confidence in the joy and power of the Gospel”.

If you’ve not been part of the conversation yet, there is one more opportunity at 7 pm on Wednesday 23rd February. There will be an online gathering where you can join in to add your voice to the Synod. To register and Join the Conversation, visit https://diocesehn.org.uk/news/synod-join-the-conversation/

Synod Update

In our Partnership

Notes from the Partnership meeting of 2 February are now available.

In the Diocese

Our Diocesan synod process has been moving ahead over the last couple of months, and we are now starting to collate the responses from all the diocesan groups and parishes. This is how it will work:

  • On Saturday, February 12th, representatives from all the partnerships will gather with the Bishop, and together, they will reflect on the input and the process so far. 
  • Following this meeting, the partnerships are asked to finalise their responses by February 22nd and to pass these to their respective Episcopal Area meetings. 
  • The Lay Pastoral Forum, which includes representatives of all the Partnership and lay groups in the diocese will compile all the responses received into a submission to the Bishop in early March. 
  • The Bishop will then consider this, plus the responses from the Clergy, Caritas, and other Diocesan groups and produce his final submission by April 8th
  • At each stage, copies of the various submissions will be made available. 

Have you joined the conversation? If you’ve not yet taken the opportunity to make a contribution to the synod process, there is still time to do so. Contact Margaret Doyle (margaretdoyle1066@sky,com) to feed into our parish and partnership response. Alternatively, you can email a contribution to synod@diocesehn.org.

Information about the Synod and notes from our parish meetings are available here:

For a Synodal Church: Final Meetings

Pope Francis has invited us all to take part in a process of discussion and listening about how we are journeying together in the church. The Finchale Partnership will be contributing to the views of the Diocese, and the whole church, leading to the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

To help us bring together the views of the Partnership you are invited to a meeting where you will be able to hear about the discussions in each of our parishes, and you’ll have the chance to share your own views too.  This will help us to prepare the summary we need to send to the Diocese.

The meeting will be at 7.00pm on Thursday 3 February. Due to the current COVID situation we will be meeting on Zoom and the joining details are available in your parish Facebook Group or from margaretdoyle1066@sky.com. If you aren’t able to attend an on-line meeting you can still contribute your views, by getting in touch with Margaret Doyle. 

For a Synodal Church

We’ve now held 4 meetings in the parish as part of the Synodal process. Thanks to all who have participated so far for your contributions. It’s not too late to join in the conversation – our next meeting will be on Thursday 16 December at 7.00pm, on Zoom when we’ll be talking about Listening: how do we listen to young people who do not see church as relevant, and how do we engage with the world which is very secular, individualistic and has no concept of objective truth?’ Details of how to join the call will be available in the Parish Facebook Group or from margaretdoyle1066@sky.com

We’ve also added some more resources about the Synod on our webpage, including links to talks by Prof. Myriam Wijlens and Sr. Nathalie Becquart.

For a Synodal Church


Pope Francis has asked the whole Church to begin a process of listening and discernment, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops to be held in 2023. The theme is:

For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.

Every member of the Church is asked to contribute to this synodal process, and we’ve already had 2 meetings in the parish .

We’re planning more meetings so that you have the opportunity to join discussions face to face or on-line, during the day or in the evenings. Our next meeting is planned for Monday 29 November at 7.00pm, on Zoom. The joining details are available in our Parish Facebook group or from margaretdoyle1066@sky.com. We’ll be talking about ‘Celebrating: Lockdown made several people think about the importance of being part of a congregation, and of good liturgy and preaching.  It made others think more deeply about scripture as we introduced on-line Gospel reflections’.

We’ll also be meeting face to face, in the parish room, on Thursday 2 December at 2.00pm when we’ll be talking about Listening: how do we listen to young people who do not see church as relevant, and how do we engage with the world which is very secular, individualistic and has no concept of objective truth?’

For a Synodal Church

Many thanks to everyone who attended our first meeting as part of the synodal process. Our discussions identified some themes for our next meetings. In particular, people raised issues about:

  • Celebrating: Lockdown made several people think about the importance of being part of a congregation, and of good liturgy and preaching.  It made others think more deeply about scripture as we introduced on-line Gospel reflections
  • Listening: how do we listen to young people who do not see church as relevant, and how do we engage with the world which is very secular, individualistic and has no concept of objective truth?
  • Authority and Participation / Discerning & Deciding: why do we always try to fit things into our existing structures? Church is very institutional, institutions are very defensive and society is unforgiving of the church’s institutional failings. How do we address this at parish and Diocesan level?

The first of these, Celebrating, will be the subject of our next 2 meetings, on Wednesday 24 November, when we’ll meet in the parish room at 10.30am, and on Monday 29 November, when we’ll meet on Zoom at 7.00pm. See our Facebook group or email margaretdoyle1066@sky.com for the Zoom dial in details. You don’t have to have been at the first meeting to join in the discussion. And you’re welcome at either (or both) of these meetings. Although they are both on the same subjects, there will be different people there and different views to listen to.

Synod 2021-23

Pope Francis has asked the whole Church to begin a process of listening and discernment, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops to be held in 2023.

The theme is:

For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.

Every member of the Church is asked to contribute to this synodal process, and we had our first discussion in the parish on 30 October. We talked about our experiences of church during the pandemic, the challenges we face in a secular world and practical issues about our parish and diocese.

We’re planning more meetings so that you will have the opportunity to talk about these issues and anything else you want to raise, and you’ll be able to join discussions face to face or on-line, during the day or in the evenings. Our next meeting is planned for Wednesday 24 November at 10.30am, face to face, in the parish room, and there’ll be more information soon about the subject for that meeting.

If you aren’t able to attend, you can still contribute your views by contacting Fr. Andrew or Margaret Doyle. Full contact details, information on our meetings and resources about the Synod are on our new webpage.