Diocese of Derry


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Synod of Bishops 2021-2023 - Explained


Pope Francis, on the 24 April 2021, approved a new synodal programme for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops - the Synod, "For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission

This path toward the celebration of the Synod comprises of three phases, between October 2021 and October 2023, a diocesan phase and a continental phase that will give life to two different Instrumentum Laboris, and finally a conclusive phase at the level of the Universal Church.

Consultation Phase (October 2021 - August 2021) Diocese of Derry

The objective of this consultation phase is to consult the People of God (cf.Episcopalis Communio, 5,2) so that the synodal process is carried out through listening to all of the baptised, who are the subject of the sensus fidei – infallible –in credendo. (Source: XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops)

Each bishop will appoint a diocesan contact person (and eventually a team) for the synodal consultation; they shall be a point of reference and link with the Episcopal Conference. They will accompany all the stages of the consultation process in the local church.

UPDATE October 2021: Bishop Donal McKeown has appointed a diocesan synodal consultation team here in the Diocese of Derry. The team are in the initial stages of understanding the role and its responsibilities, the process of discernment and planning the consultation process.

You are asked to pray for this team. Your prayers will help to guide them, to give them courage and to enable them to listen to the Holy Spirit.

To help us all understand this process, Bishop McKeown has published a short video to explain the start of our 'Synodal Journey'. Click the play icon to view his message.

"We have set ourselves in Ireland a five year period, to look together in a prayerful context where God is leading His Church" 

Bring the Synodal Process to fruition - resources to assist local Churches in engaging with the Universal Synod

New and creative pathways may be found for working together among parishes and dioceses in order to bring this Synodal Process to fruition. This Synodal Process need not be seen as an overwhelming burden that competes with local pastoral care. Rather, it is an opportunity to foster the synodal and pastoral conversion of each local Church so as to be more fruitful in mission.  Below are support materials for use by individuals, parishes and dioceses to assist creative participation.

The Handbook (Vademecum)

Vademecum for the Synod of Synodality 2023 Official Handbook for Listening and Discernment in Local Churches.

This Vademecum is designed as a handbook that accompanies the Preparatory Document at the service of the synodal journey. The Vademecum provides all the basic information to help a diocese organise the consultation in the diocese.

Preparatory Document

This Preparatory Document is designed as a handbook to accompany the Vademecum.

It explains the objectives of the Synod and the consultation process.



Suggested methods for conducting the consultations, reflection questions for participants, templates, and other useful links.



Presentation of the Programme for the celebration of the upcoming Synod approved by Pope
Francis during his audience with Cardinal Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, 24
April 2021.



Posters, Flyers, Social Media, Powerpoint templates.


In order to "walk together" and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world.

As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.

Related Synod topics to assist parishes 


Consultation - Starting conversations in our parishes

Bishop McKeown - this is the start of our Synodal Journey We have set ourselves in Ireland a five year period, to look together in a prayerful cont...

Suggested tools for reflecting, sharing, and responding to the questions of the Synod

Synod 2021-2023 is an invitation for every diocese to embark on a path of profound renewal as inspired by the grace of God's Spirit. As stated in...

What is the Synod of Bishops? A Catholic priest and theologian explains

Pope Francis formally opened a two-year process called a “synod on synodality” for the Catholic Church on Oct. 10.
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Contact Info

Diocesan Offices
St Eugene’s Cathedral
Francis Street, Derry
BT48 9AP | Tel: 028 7126 2302

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