Synod Report 2022
Church of the Assumption, Westport Connecticut – Diocese of Bridgeport
Pastor: Father Cyrus Bartolome
Delegates: Craig Wiele
The Church of the Assumption set out its participation in the Synod of Synodality with the rest of the Universal Church in the Fall of 2021. Delegates from the parish were selected to lead this effort. The delegates from Assumption Parish along with the guidance of its pastor, Father Cyrus Bartolome prepared for the synod by engaging the Parish and the Westport Community utilizing 3 separate methods. The methods were selected to give each participant a medium by which they felt the most comfortable in expressing themselves.
The first method employed was to host a “Listening Session” that took place on the Church Grounds after each Mass on a Sunday in March 2022. The results of this were captured and shared by the delegates to help craft this report. The Listening Session resulted in some helpful information, primarily from practicing Roman Catholics
The second method employed by the delegates to gather feedback for the Synod was in the form of an Online Survey. This survey was comprised of both Multiple Choice, Yes/No and Comment boxes. The survey was posted on the Parish Website and remained available for the duration of Lent and the Easter Octave. 74 individuals participated in the Online Survey.
The third method that was use was in pew questionnaire. The questionnaire had a total of 4 written comment boxes and enough room for thoughtful feedback. In total 19 individuals provided feedback through this method.
In interpreting the whole of the in-person interactions, written statements, and online comments; there arose some repetition that can be synthesized into persistent themes. These primarily centered around the appreciation for the Churches traditions and Sacraments, the disappointment with the Church leadership, particularly around COVID but also around doctrinal clarity from the Vatican. There were also several statements expressed by practicing Catholics that touched on settled Church teachings which have been considered settled but reveals a need for better teaching from the pulpit. All these themes can be grouped in the following manner.
There was an overall appreciation for the way that our local parish utilized technology to maintain the congregation’s connection through Live-Streamed Mass. Some parishioners felt that their faith deepened during the Pandemic’s lockdowns. They attribute this to both a heightened sense of how precious/fragile life is and from an increase in the opportunity to pray.
On the other hand, there were a great many respondents that focused on the lack of leadership from the Vatican and at the Diocesan level. They expressed how they felt the US Bishops did not rise to the challenge of the pandemic and waited for the government to lead. There were also several respondents that were upset about the Church encouraging Catholics to accept mandates of experimental vaccinations.
Many of the respondents expressed their appreciation for the Sacraments and specifically the Eucharist. They pointed to the continuity of the Sacraments as a key factor that kept them close to the church. They also expressed their gratitude for the sacrament of Reconciliation.
A few respondents felt that Assumption Parish could do better at offering a variety of Mass styles. A few called for either a music free Mass or a teen focused Mass.
A majority expressed gratitude that the Church holds firm to traditional doctrines. They connected the teachings of Christ to the faithful teachings in the Church. Tradition was a major theme throughout the responses. Although there were some that called for “Modernization” however did not provide specifics on what that meant.
They also expressed concern that the Church sometimes appears to be accepting of the ideologies that are persistent in our country. The Church should do more speak against these groups who seek to destroy the Church, faith, and morality. If the Church were to make a greater impact in the community, it would through maintaining consistency and expressing the teachings of Jesus through more visible charity within the community.
Are you Roman Catholic 95%
o Regularly 83%
o Sporadically 9%
o Did not Respond 7%
Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist
o Jesus is present 94%
o Not Sure 6%
Which Catholic Teachings are most difficult?
o Eucharist 5%
o Life 4%
o Birth Control 44%
o Marriage 2%
o Sexual Identity 10%
o None 33%
o Other Comments
— The Pope seems Anti-Catholic
— The Church Leaders refuse to stand up against Woke Political forces/Culture
— Women Priests
— Lack of Inclusivity
Where should the Church Focus it’s energy
o Charity 31%
o Community Service 35%
o Teaching the Faith to Children 70%
o Teaching the Faith to Adults 32%
o Primary School education 45%
How often do you pray
o Everyday 82%
o Once in a While 8%
o Only during Mass 1%
How do you feel about the Church
o Proud 16%
o Grateful 47%
o Neutral 5%
o Embarrassed 23%
Are you looking for a greater Sense of Community
o YES 43%
o NO 45%
What would encourage greater Mass Participation
o Gives me time to reflect
o If the Church was more inclusive to families. Family oriented.
o Shorter service without music
o Relevant and moving homilies.
A priest that is human and invests in the celebration of the Mass and delivering joy and motivation to grow our faith in the sermons.
o I usually attend every other week. I have obligations to my disabled son, which sometimes make weekly attendance problematic. I plan to “retire” from teaching in 2 year’s time which will give me more flexibility, and I then hope to attend some weekday masses, as well as up my Sunday attendance
o Online Masses (15-30 Minutes) Make it more exciting and not so much about the Rituals
How does the Church increase your sense of reverence for the Eucharist during Mass
o Restore Latin-language masses throughout the world
o Encourage Communion on the tongue
o Provide an Alter Rail/Kneeling Opportunities
o Focused Catechism from the pulpit which speak on the real presence and the nature of Christ. Reminding the parish of the real presence at each Mass
o Slowing down during the consecration and emphasize the words
o Stopping the use of Extraordinary Ministers
o Facilitate Communion for those on Live-Stream
o Encouraging confession more
What do you value most about the Catholic Church?
o The Rituals, Community Values and Faith
o The Eucharist and Sacraments
o Comfort, Hope and Peace
o The teachings of Jesus Christ that have been passed down directly through the Apostles and the Pope along with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
o The Scripture and how it relates to our everyday life.
o The consistency of the Dogma/Doctrine and fortitude of the belief system
o The Strength of The Blessed Virgin Mary.
o The community and outreach
o The universality and unity of the Church thorough the world
o The sponsorship and promotion of all expressions of faith; Architecture, Art, Music, Philosophy and Theology
In what way did COVID affect your Faith
o The churches response to COVID made me lose faith in the Vatican and its ability to lead the world and care for its faithful
o The church skirted its duty to lead us. Many Bishops and Priests were not strong enough to lead during this time. This increased our appreciation for Strong priestly leaders and the Holy Spirt.
o Faith grew with the ability to stream live-daily mass from my home
o Faith grew as appreciation for life increased
o The Eucharist was missed
Pope Francis has said he wants to hear from you whether you’re a practicing Catholic or not. If you can say anything to him what would it be?
o The Church needs to be leaders in charitable works instead of looking to Governments for solutions. They need to stop promoting the use of experimental vaccines.
o The Pope creates confusion with the faithful. His lack of clear direction on issues pertaining to dogma and doctrine and the ambiguous way he speaks to the media causes Catholics to question his intentions.
o It’s shameful how the Pope allows heresy to profligate from the French and German Church.
o The Pope and Bishops placate the Leftist who are committed to the destruction of the Church. His lack of leadership will result in that very thing.
o The Church needs to better assist parents in their effort to keep their children lifelong Catholics.
o The Church needs to return to reverent Liturgy and worship of God
What are things that the Church can do to improve its relationship with the community and beyond?
o Coordinate consistent volunteer opportunities through the youth group to engage in the community.
o Be a visible positive community participant
o Root out the corrupt clergy who abuse the funds of their Parish (not at Assumption)
o Schedule a variety of Mass types for different styles
o Priests should interact more with their parishioners, not just greeting after Mass. Some priests seem to only be interested in money and ignore the poor.
o Be there for the sick, poor and lonely. Approaching them with kindness
o Offer clear practical advice for life
o Show compassion for divorced parishioners
o Lead in the community by staying firm in the teachings and resist being changed by the sinfulness of the community.
o Listen to God, not the community.
o Do not pretend that All Faiths are “headed up the same mountain” (do not have Jewish Rabbis preach inside our Parish and disrespect our Faith)
o Be strong, consistent, sound in teachings and beliefs. Test catechesis and catechumens for accuracy in their understanding. Teach reverence in attire and behaviors for Mass
• We attended Assumption every week for over 20 years until it became a foreign church. We have nothing against Philippine people, but they have taken over our beautiful community. They are not friendly, nor do they connect with the long time parishioners. It’s very sad and disheartening that We lost our beautiful community. We feel very lost. We don’t have a church We can go to and We miss receiving the body of Christ. Bishop Frank does not care about his parishioners to have allowed this to happen to assumption church. We will not support him or his Appeal any longer. We are not alone. Many parishioners/ ex parishioners feel the same way. If it wasn’t for this survey and the fact that We won’t get palms today We would have stayed silent. This will be the first year that we will not have Palms in our home on Palm Sunday.
• Stop calling religious white Catholics racist
• Stop calling for One World Global Government
• The Mass is too long. We should have a mass without music, and we should give communion in the beginning so we can leave earlier
• Stop placating minority groups
• Please let Priests marry. They need to know what families are going through
• Priests need to interact more with the parishioners. They don’t even know my name.
• Remove clericalism, give women a greater role