For the last two years, the Archdiocese of Melbourne has together been on a journey of mutual listening and discernment.

As part of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, often referred to as the ‘Synod on Synodality’, Pope Francis has asked the global Church to reflect on the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission’.

Thousands of representatives of the people of God across Melbourne engaged in the initial two-year process of local, parish-based consultations, and these local listening sessions culminated in the Synod of Bishops gathering in Rome in October 2023.

Following the discussions in Rome, a Letter to the People of God was published, and a Synthesis Report.

In creating the opportunity for listening and dialogue, the Pope is calling the whole Church to rediscover its deeply synodal nature. As the vademecum (handbook) for the synod states: ‘This rediscovery of the synodal roots of the Church will involve a process of humbly learning together how God is calling us to be as the Church in the third millennium.’

The second session of the Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2024. As we journey towards this, the local churches are again being invited to carry out further consultation, as set out in the document Towards October 2024.

Synod 2024 Diocesan Timeline

Diocesan consultations in 2024

In February 2024, dioceses were advised by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) of the process and local guidelines for the next stage of diocesan consultations.

Whereas the initial process involved parish-based consultations, it is important to note that this next stage does not involve going back to the grassroots of parish consultation again. Rather, building on what has already occurred, it is recommended that dioceses engage with existing structures, particularly with leadership and key stakeholder groups already present in the diocese, to reflect on the key questions and to identify future pathways and tools for mission.

Dioceses are being asked to aim for the widest participation possible, determining ‘what is possible in the time available and the best approach to take’.

The General Secretariat guidelines ask that consultation groups:

involve people and groups that express a variety of experiences, skills, charisms, ministries, within the People of God, and whose point of view is of help in focussing on the ‘how’: eg ordained ministers (in particular parish priests); other pastoral leaders (eg catechists and leaders of grassroots communities and small Christian communities, particularly in some regions; leaders of pastoral offices); consecrated men and women; leaders of Lay Associations, ecclesial movements and new communities; people who hold positions of responsibility in Church-related institutions and organisations (school, universities, hospitals, reception centres, cultural centres, etc); theologians and canonists, etc.

Reflection questions and reflection guide

Group reflections for this stage are guided by the theme of being a synodal Church in mission. The main question is:

‘How can we be a synodal Church in mission?’

This question is followed by two subsequent questions designed to support reflection on the main question.

At the heart of synodality is the desire to awaken each person’s baptismal calling, bringing their unique contribution to bear on the proclamation of the risen Christ and his Gospel in today’s world.

The goal of the questions is to identify the paths we can follow and the tools we might adopt in different contexts and circumstances to do just this.

The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) has prepared a Reflection Guide to assist groups with this process. This follows a similar format to previous consultations and will be familiar to those who have participated in the synod process thus far.

The guide includes the key reflection questions as well as information on the chapters of the Synthesis Report that are pertinent to the discussion.

Responses from each group reflection will be collated by the diocesan contact person, Mrs Teresa Rhynehart, and need to be submitted by no later than 30 March 2024. They can be submitted to the email address

Submissions and diocesan-led consultations will then be collated into a diocesan summary for submission to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference by mid-April 2024.