September 1, 2022 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Diocesan staff participate in a synod focus group at the McRaith Catholic Center on Nov. 29, 2021. COURTESY OF TOM LILLY

Longing for unity

Bishop says synod feedback represented ‘microcosm’ of Church


After participating in the Diocese of Owensboro’s regional listening sessions that were part of the Synod on Synodality process, Bishop William F. Medley said the greatest surprise for him “was that there were no surprises.”

“I can’t say anything surprised me,” the bishop told The Western Kentucky Catholic. “What pleased me was seeing that the breadth of the Church we experience is alive and well in the Diocese of Owensboro.”

The diocese recently released a 10-page report which details the process over the past year, what was shared during discussions, and the diocese’s hopes for the future. This report was sent to the Vatican and has also been made available for the faithful to read at in English and in Spanish.

During the months of January and February 2022, 66 of the diocese’s 78 parishes hosted two-part listening sessions. In March, seven regional listening sessions were held across the diocese and Bishop Medley – along with members of the Diocesan Synod Team – attended every one. Five were held in English, one was in Spanish and one was in Burmese.

An online form was also made available on the diocese’s website for people who could not or chose not to participate in the sessions in person. In total, approximately 1,000 people participated in person, and 406 people submitted input online.

The report said that comments included the fact that “It was a common occurrence to hear people express their heartbreak and dismay over the polarization and division felt in our society, our families, our communities, and in our Church. They expressed their longing for unity.”

The report also said that people were “animated” in their conversations and “passionate, but respectful of one another, in voicing opinions and ideas.”

“The opinions were wide-ranging and included those who long for a return to the traditional Latin Mass as well as those who would like to see women ordained to the priesthood,” the report stated.

Bishop Medley told the WKC that he has never felt offended “when someone criticizes the Church” over such matters; he said he is “not threatened, by theologians or by people in the (pews) who are saying ‘I don’t buy that, help me understand that.’”

“Our diocese is a microcosm of the universal Church,” he said in terms of these discussions, which he heard was mirrored across the United States in other dioceses’ listening sessions.

The purpose of this synod, said the bishop, is “not so much moving the needle but (asking) what are the things we can maybe give more emphasis to? What can the Church do? Can we extend an embrace and a welcome while not straying from Church teaching?”

He said he hopes the National Eucharistic Revival, which is an initiative of the U.S. bishops to reconnect the faithful with the Eucharist, “nurtures” these conversations the American Church is having today.

The report stated that in conjunction with the revival, the Diocese of Owensboro will strive to continue the synodal process with more listening sessions in the future. These may include sessions on the Eucharist, on “the question of why younger generations are not coming to Mass,” and on “how our churches can be more welcoming and inclusive.”

“The process was a valuable thing here,” said Bishop Medley. “I enjoyed it.”

Read the synod synthesis

The full report is now available in both English in Spanish and can be found at:

Originally printed in the September 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Current Issue

Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
Layout |  Rachel Hall
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