This Synodal Directory for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle sets out the requirements under the headings:
I. Nature and Purpose of the Synod
II. Convocation and Preparation for the Synod
III. Synod Membership
IV. Officers of the Synod
VI. Conducting the Synod
VII. Synodal Declarations and Decrees
Synods seek to inspire missionary renewal and unity within the diocesan community. In this way they contribute to the shaping of the pastoral activities of the particular Church and lend continuity to its own liturgical, spiritual, and canonical traditions.
The work of the Synod is to:
· assist the Bishop in his office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the Christian community,
· consult and collaborate with the diocesan community in order to build up the Body of Christ,
· discern the will of the Spirit with the diocesan community, the pastoral activities and direction, for the good of the diocese,
· foster a sense of communion and missionary renewal.
On the 8th August 2019 Bishop Wright decreed:
“Having consulted with the Presbyteral Council (CIC c. 461 § 1), and consulted the Diocesan Council for Mission (CIC c. 511), and in anticipation of the Plenary Council of Australia 2020, and in responding to the question of the plenary council – listen to what the spirit is saying, and the need to renew the Diocesan Synod of 1992-1993, I hereby convoke the Synod of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle (CIC cc. 460ff). The Diocesan Synod will be conducted according to the diocesan synodal directory.”
The Diocesan Synod 2019-2021, to be held in three sessions, invites the People of God to carefully discern together what the Spirit is saying to the Church of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and to agree on common goals and actions for the coming years.
Session One – Celebration – 23 November 2019
Session Two – Discernment – 22 May 2021
Session Three – Implementation – 20 November 2021
 Decree of the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle 19/2019 – 8 August 2019
The diocesan Bishop presides over the Diocesan Synod. The Diocesan Synod Members document provides guidelines for the discernment of delegates for Synod membership. The recommendation is to have a diverse, representative group of people from across the diocesan community.
Bishop Wright will preside over the diocesan Synod.
The diocesan Bishop appoints a Moderator to oversee the preparatory stages of the Synod and to coordinate the Synod.
The Pastoral Ministries Office will act as synodal secretariat to assist in the work of the Diocesan Synod Working Party.
Bishop Wright in consultation with the Council for Mission has constituted the Synod Working Party as the Preparatory Commission whose tasks are:
To assist the diocesan Bishop, the faithful shall be afforded the opportunity of expressing their needs, desires and opinions with regard to the topics to be dealt with in the Synod. Consultation endeavours to reach all ‘vital forces’ of the People of God present and operating in the Diocese.
Diocesan Synod 2019-2021 with the theme, Building the Kingdom of God together in the Church of Maitland-Newcastle, is being held in the context of the Australian Plenary Council 2020 at which the Catholic Church in Australia will gather.
The following organising cycle or planning model is helpful for our synodal process:
Spiritual, catechetical, and formational preparation:
The celebration of the Synod affords the Bishop a privileged opportunity for the formation of the faithful. It leads to a well-articulated catechesis of the faithful with regard to the mystery of the Church and the participation of all the faithful in her mission.
A program of dialogue, contemplation and formation will be created for Lent, 2021 consisting of material developed by the Synod Working Party and its associated Focus Groups. Reflection Days and Evenings with Bishop Bill will follow during the Easter Season before the second session of synod. It is envisaged that these opportunities will provide the synod delegates time to listen to the voice of the people of the diocese, to listen to the Spirit and to bring to the synod what they are discerning.
Determining the questions:
At the conclusion of the consultative process, with the assistance of persons, expert in the various disciplines and pastoral spheres, and with the assistance of the preparatory commission, the Bishop shall proceed to determine those questions on which the synodal debate will concentrate.
Secretariat and Communications:
The Diocesan Pastoral Ministries Unit shall be directed by The Diocesan Synod Working Party to assist in the organisational matters of the Synod.
The Diocesan Chancellor shall have the function of ensuring conformity, in all things pertaining to the Synod.
Liturgical and Spiritual Journey:
The Synod Liturgy Focus Group and diocesan Liturgy Office shall oversee the preparation of the liturgies associated with the Synod and promote prayer for the success of the Synod.
Details of Procedures to be followed during the Synod sessions are being developed.
At the Synod in November 2021 there will be voting on a variety Proposals for Action. These Proposals, if adopted, then become recommendations to the Bishop for his consideration as possible actions appropriate to the needs to the Diocese. The Bishop then has responsibility to draw up decrees and statutes based on these recommendations. He does this, cognisant of the needs, wishes and desires of the People of God but also cognisant of the general law of the Church.
The Diocesan Bishop alone signs the synodal declarations and decrees, by which means he promotes and fosters the pastoral norms for diocesan life.