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Listening sessions offer faithful chance to listen as well as be heard

By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic

IRVING – The old adage that there is strength in numbers holds true for the Diocese of Dallas Synod.

“If you want to make a difference, you have to get involved. We need people to get involved and to take the time to help the church get stronger,” said Gary Yesavage, a parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church in Van Alstyne, who on April 2 attended a synod listening session at Cistercian Preparatory School. “I came here today to help the Diocese of Dallas become stronger and be more effective in shepherding our people forward in the years to come.”

The event, which included dialogue on liturgies and Sunday celebrations of the Mass, was the second in a series of 10 public listening sessions that will occur over the next two years. The first session was held March 26 at St. Joseph Catholic School in Richardson and focused on catechesis and children, youth and adult faith formation.

“Through this synod process, we are going to strengthen this diocese,” Bishop Edward J. Burns told attendees at the March 26 session. “Your participation in this is a big part of that.”

Chantal Nguyen, a parishioner at Mother of Perpetual Help in Garland, echoed the bishop’s sentiments, urging others to take advantage of this historic moment in the diocese.

“This is a time for the diocese to get feedback from the people and to see if there are similar issues that need to be addressed at different parishes,” said Nguyen, who attended both the March 26 and April 2 sessions. “It’s also a time for participants to walk away from this having learned something from the bishop and from others who were there from different parishes. Hopefully, all of this can be learned and used to address frustrations or concerns being experienced at the parishes.”

Nguyen said she felt more people should attend the sessions.

“I wish more teachers, more catechists, more parents, and more of our younger generation would be better informed and should be participating,” she said. “We need to hear their voices.”

Each listening session focuses on a different topic, allowing participants to dialogue about various aspects of the Church in Dallas. For instance, the next session, which will be held June 11, will include discussions about marriage and family.

“I think it is important for us as lay people to have an opportunity to share our thoughts about where we see the Catholic Church heading with the bishop,” said Andy Ellard, a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Dallas, who attended the session at Cistercian. “There’s an opportunity for all of us to express our feelings — good and bad — about the Diocese of Dallas and what it is doing.”

To learn more about the Diocese of Dallas Synod 2024 or to register for an upcoming listening session, visit