To the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Trenton:
In October of last year, our Holy Father Pope Francis convened the Third Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, inviting them to reflect upon the theme “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”
Synods are meetings of bishops selected from around the world to advise the Pope on matters of pastoral importance. They are called “extraordinary” when they concern matters of urgency that the Holy Father wants to discuss now. For the Holy Father, “family” and “evangelization” are such urgent pastoral matters.
Although a meeting only of bishops, Pope Francis wanted to consult the entire Catholic Church to obtain the input and insights of all the baptized to prepare the bishops for the discussion that would follow. The Vatican Office of the Synod released a survey to every diocesan bishop in the world which was distributed to the clergy, religious and faithful of every diocese, including the Diocese of Trenton. This outreach was unprecedented in the Catholic Church.
This year, after our Holy Father’s September visit to the United States, another synod of bishops will take place, an “ordinary synod,” focused on the theme “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” No less urgent than last year’s synod, the coming gathering of bishops is “ordinary,” that is, regularly scheduled. As was the case last year, another worldwide consultation shall take place beforehand. And, so, I am writing you to make that survey available to the Diocese of Trenton.
By visiting the Diocese’s website – www.dioceseoftrenton.org – you will find links to:
1) the document published after last year’s synod;
2) the new Vatican questionnaire, and
3) a simplified version of this questionnaire offered as an option.
As Bishop, I encourage you to read the document itself and to complete one of the two questionnaires, following the instructions provided, according to your preference. You may take the online survey, which is submitted electronically to us. You may also choose to download the questionnaire of your choice, complete it and return to our Office of Communications via regular mail (The Diocese of Trenton, 701 Lawrenceville Rd., P.O. Box 5147, Trenton, NJ, 08638-0147) or email at email@example.com by Wednesday, March 4, 2015. I, in turn, will read and prepare a summary for eventual transmission to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by March 9.
It is important that your voice be represented in these discussions. Please give it your time and consideration. Thank you.
Respectfully yours in the Lord,
Most Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.
Bishop of Trenton