In October, the San Diego Diocese will invite the entire community to participate in small-group dialogues at parishes and schools as part of the synod, which will be entering its third year that month.

The dialogues will follow the same format as the sessions held in the spring of 2022. As planned by Cardinal Robert McElroy, the dialogue sessions will provide another opportunity in the diocese for the faithful to encounter one another, this time focused on the Eucharist and how to build Eucharistic communities.

Encountering others and listening to one another are at the heart of the synod Pope Francis launched in October of 2021. He called on parishes to use the synodal process of inviting everyone to the table, particularly the vulnerable, then working together to address the concerns raised, all guided by the Holy Spirit. Over time, the pope hopes this new way of “being Church” will help renew parishes, schools and the Church itself.

Victor Carmona has a unique perspective on this synodal journey.

He’s a man of faith, having been born into a Catholic family and nurtured by parish and religious communities on both sides of the border.

He participated in the small-group sessions at his San Diego parish in the spring of 2022, in which participants candidly shared their joys, disappointments and hopes for the Church.

He’s a member of the commission of mostly lay leaders from San Diego and Imperial Valley that has been advising the diocese on the synodal process.

He participated in the Continental Phase of the synod, where representatives of faith communities across the U.S. and Canada shared the findings of their synods.

And he’s a nationally recognized theologian who teaches at the University of San Diego.

On a recent day, Carmona reflected on the synod’s impact on the diocese and beyond.

“A beautiful and challenging aspect of the synodal journey is that it reframes our thinking,” he said. “The synodal journey has encouraged us to focus on the process itself — on dialogue….

Being process- rather than results-oriented can be unsettling “because it calls for a vulnerability we are not used to experiencing when encountering others, even if they are from the same faith community….

He said that the synodal journey is “nurturing us … to be a Church that heals the polarization wounding many in our society.”

From the Southern Cross