U.S. and Canadian Bishops’ Conferences Welcome Holy See’s Announcement of North American Delegates to the October 2023 Synod of Bishops
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomed the news from the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod of the delegates appointed for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held this October.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomed the news from the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod of the delegates appointed for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held this October. The two episcopal conferences serve as the coordinating entities for the North American region for the Synod, which is themed, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. The first session of the Synod will be held at the Vatican on October 4-29, 2023, and the second session is scheduled to be held in October 2024.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine who has been shepherding the United States on the synodal path commented, “With the announcement of the names of delegates to the October 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, the Church enters into the Universal Stage of this synodal journey. The moment is a joyful one, as bishop delegates and non-bishop delegates now begin their proximate preparations for the Assembly. This will involve prayer and study, and a deep reading of the Instrumentum Laboris. All the delegates express gratitude to the Holy Father for the invitation to serve together for the good of the Universal Church.”
Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced that participation in the Synod in October 2023 would be expanded to include non-bishop members, which would be a group of individuals from each of the regional groupings of episcopal conferences. The ten non-bishop voting delegates from Canada and the United States chosen to represent the North America region are:
- Sami Aoun is a Maronite academic from Montreal immersed in issues touching the Church in the Middle East. He is Professor Emeritus at Université de Sherbrooke and professor, at the Center for Contemporary Religious Studies in Quebec. He is Co-founder of the first Global Chair in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism.
- Catherine Clifford is a theologian at St. Paul University in Ottawa who has written and lectured on ecclesiology and synodality. Dr. Clifford has been invited as a panelist, presenter and guest keynote speaker on numerous occasions; especially on topics such as: “Theological and Pastoral Contributions to Synodality from North America,” “Synodality: What Have We Learned along the Way?”, “Leaning into the Distant Goal of Vatican II: Pope Francis, Synodality, and Christian Unity,” among others.
- Sr. Chantal Desmarais s.c.s.m. is a woman religious from the Diocese of Joliette who was involved in drafting the Canadian National Synthesis as well as the North American Final Document. She is very involved in catechesis and evangelical animation for her diocese. Sr. Desmarais also studied religious education and physical education.
- Linda Staudt is the Director for Safe Environment Services for the diocese of London. She has extensive experience as a leader in Catholic education in Ontario. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario appointed her chair of the committee to prepare the provincial synodal report.
- Cynthia Bailey Manns, D.Min, is the Adult Learning Director at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis and adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Dr. Bailey Manns was a delegate from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to the Continental Assemblies.
- Richard Coll is the executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was appointed as the liaison for the U.S. bishops for the Synod in the United States in 2021 and is a member of the North American Synod Team. Mr. Coll is a parishioner at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
- Rev. Ivan Montelongo is a priest of the Diocese of El Paso and serves as the diocesan contact for the 2021-2024 Synod. Fr. Montelongo is Vocation Director and Judicial Vicar for the diocese and was a delegate from the Diocese of El Paso to the Continental Assemblies.
- Wyatt Olivas is a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. He serves as music minister at his parish, St. Paul’s Newman Center in Laramie. Mr. Olivas was a delegate from the Diocese of Cheyenne to the Continental Assemblies.
- Julia Osęka is an international student from Poland attending St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She has been active in the Synod through her participation in Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (SCHEAP). Ms. Osęka was a delegate from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to the Continental Assemblies.
- Sr. Leticia Salazar, ODN is with the Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady, a religious order. She is the Chancellor of the Diocese of San Bernardino, and the diocesan contact for the Synod. Sr. Leticia was a member of the U.S. National Synthesis Writing Team, and a member of the North American Synod Team, and she was a delegate from the Diocese of San Bernardino to the Continental Assemblies.
The bishop delegates representing the episcopal conferences in Canada and the United States are:
- Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., Archdiocese of Vancouver
- Bishop William T. McGrattan, Diocese of Calgary and Vice President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Bishop Marc Pelchat, Archdiocese of Quebec
- Bishop Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Saint-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archdiocese of New York
- Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Bishop Robert E. Barron, Diocese of Winona-Rochester
- Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend
- Archbishop William C. Skurla, Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
Bishop Flores was also appointed as a “president-delegate” for the Synod. In synodal assemblies, presidents-delegate have a unique and significant role of presiding over the assembly on behalf of the Holy Father. They are responsible for guiding the work of the synod and assigning special tasks to certain members, when necessary, so that the assembly proceeds efficiently.
Pontifical-appointed members of the Synod from Canada and the United States include:
- Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago
- Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Seattle
- Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archdiocese of Washington
- Cardinal Gérald C. LaCroix, Archdiocese of Quebec*
- Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, Diocese of San Diego
- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archdiocese of Boston
- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, Archdiocese of Newark*
- Rev. James Martin, S.J.
“The non-bishop delegates appointed by the Holy Father have participated in various stages of the Synod, and have been shaped and formed by their experience, growing in the synodal style needed for participation in Rome. From participation in their local parish communities, through the diocesan and continental stages, these delegates have been on the synodal journey, listening to the voices of the People of God in the United States and Canada,” continued Bishop Flores. “I encourage the local churches to use the Instrumentum Laboris, in conjunction with their parish and diocesan syntheses, as well as with the U.S. National Synthesis, the Document for the Continental Stage, and the North American Final Document, in order to deepen the discernment of what they have heard and what they can do in their local contexts. These documents are an unprecedented dialogue between the Holy See and the People of God and serve as living instruments of the synodal path travelled together up to this point. We ask Catholics in their local Churches to pray for the Synod delegates, and for the ongoing work of the Synod.”
The North American delegates will participate in communal spiritual formation, preparation, and reflection on the Instrumentum Laboris in anticipation of the Synod in October. Released last month, the document forms the basis for the discernment and discussion for the participants of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
More information regarding the 2021-2024 Synod is available at usccb.org/synod.
*denotes members of the Ordinary Council of the Synod.