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5 U.S. priests tapped to share pastoral insights for the Synod on Synodality

Members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops start a working session in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall Oct. 18, 2023. Five U.S. priests will travel to Rome April 28-May 2, 2024, to share their experiences of parish life with the ongoing Synod of Bishops on synodality. The five were selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of a 300-member worldwide delegation. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

(OSV News) — Five U.S. priests will travel to Rome in April to share their experiences of parish life with the ongoing Synod of Bishops on synodality.

The group — selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of a 300-member worldwide delegation — also will speak with Pope Francis during the April 28-May 2 meeting.

OSV News has learned that the five U.S. priests selected are as follows:

— Father Artur Bubnevych of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix, who serves as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

— Father Joseph Friend of the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas, who serves as pastoral administrator of three Arkansas parishes: Holy Cross in Crossett, Holy Spirit in Hamburg and Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Village.

— Father Donald Planty of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Arlington.

— Father Luis Navarro of the Diocese of Stockton, California, pastor of St. George Parish in Stockton.

— Father Bill Swichtenberg of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Community in Appleton.

The priests’ names were submitted to the Vatican March 15.

The five selected from the U.S., who were chosen by synod leaders, had all been involved locally in their synod processes, with some participating as well in the U.S. and continental phases of the synod, Julia McStravog, a theologian and co-coordinator of the North American team for the synod’s continental phase, told OSV News.

A Feb. 3 Vatican statement said the 300 priests selected for the meeting will be involved in “roundtables for the sharing of best practices, workshops around pastoral proposals, dialogue with experts and liturgical celebrations.” The results of the meeting will then be incorporated into the working document drafted ahead of the second synod assembly.

The meeting — which will take place at a retreat center in Sacrofano, Italy, near Rome — also is an opportunity for parish priests to “experience the dynamism of synodal work at a universal level,” said the statement.

Launched by Pope Francis in October 2021, the ongoing Synod of Bishops — the theme of which is “communion, participation and mission” — has sought the perspectives of all baptized Catholics on building what the pope has described as a “listening church.” The initiative moved through local, national and continental phases before its first assembly at the Vatican in October 2023, during which 370 participants — 70 of whom were not bishops — were eligible to vote. The second synod assembly is scheduled to take place this October.

Gina Christian is a multimedia reporter for OSV News. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @GinaJesseReina

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