The Synod of the People of God

The theme is For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission. More information on the synod process will be forthcoming.

Click here to view the Bishop’s Letter …..Bishop Gainer Synodal Letter 2021 2

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On October 10, Pope Francis inaugurated in the Universal Church a two-year synodal process leading us toward the Synod of the People of God scheduled to take place in October 2023. The following Sunday, this synodal process was inaugurated at our cathedral church as I invoked the aid of God the Holy Spirit to guide us toward a deeper fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we walk together in the communion of the Church.
“Synod” comes from two Greek words that mean “together on the way.” We have to admit that the words “synod”, “synodal”, and “synodality” are not familiar to us in the ordinary experience of the Church today. Yet, they find their foundations in the ancient Church itself. Synods have been held locally and universally throughout the history of the Church. It was Pope Paul VI who established a permanent structure, an office, in Rome for the Synod of Bishops. And, through that office, the popes in the last sixty years have used that structure to consult the bishops throughout the world about various concerns facing the Church.
Pope Francis is hoping that this process of ‘)oumeying together” might be expanded to include all the baptized members of the Church. At its core, this synodal process is an exercise in listening, not only to each other in the Church, but most especially to the voice of the Lord speaking to us through the Sacred Scriptures, the grace of the Sacraments, and the movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
For those who follow Catholic news, you might look at the word “synod” with some skepticism because of what is happening in the Catholic Church in Germany. The reports about the synodal path chosen by the German bishops has been controversial and, by what is reported, even dangerous. Pope Francis, in his address to the local Diocese of Rome, explained clearly that a synodal path is not about “gathering opinions” but “listening to the Holy Spirit.” He goes on to say that this is not a survey that is employed to change the Church’s doctrines or disciplines according to popular opinions, but to call the Church to ongoing conversion and deeper communion with each other and with God.
          It is with this in mind that we embark on the synodal process for the Diocese of Harrisburg, gathering together in prayerful listening to the voice of the Lord. Throughout the coming months, each parish will be engaged through their pastoral councils and other Catholic organizations to ‘)ourney together” as we seek to follow the Gospel faithfully. We will ask questions about our personal experience of the Church and how the Church lives its mission to proclaim Christ in our parishes and our diocese. Our goal is not to achieve consensus in thought or to arrive at specific action points for change, but to be transformed by the process itself and adopt a new style of “synodality … that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working (International Theological Commission, Synodality in the life and mission ofthe Church).”
Guided by the Holy Spirit, may the Lord lead us closer to communion with the Blessed Trinity and with each other in the Church as we “journey together” toward our eternal home.

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer

4800 Union Deposit Road Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17111-3710

Bishop’ (717) 657-4804 ext. 354

Update on Diocese Reorganization

Below are links to  a letter from Bishop Gainer, in English and Spanish, providing an update on the reorganization.
Reorganization Update Letter November 2020
Update Letter November 2020 – Spanish

Bankruptcy Information
/More information and video : click here


My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

By the time you are reading this letter, many of you will have already heard that our Diocese has been forced to make the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Known as Reorganization Bankruptcy, this plan will allow us to continue the work of the Diocese and equitably compensate our creditors.

This decision was made after countless hours of prayer and careful deliberation with our financial experts, attorneys, and our Diocesan Consultative Bodies.

Over the past few years, our Diocese has been forced to confront our horrific past regarding clergy sexual abuse. Today, we are facing some difficult financial realities. Despite making every attempt to scale back operations and reduce overhead, we are currently unable to meet our financial obligations.

The overwhelming reality is that for a number of years prior to receiving the Grand Jury Subpoena in 2016, the Diocesan finances were in a very challenging condition. Responding to that investigation forced us to incur very heavy legal costs, which has had harsh financial consequences for the Diocese. Those costs were not something the Diocese was able to plan for in our budget, which greatly limited the options available to us to correct the preexisting financial trend. Our current financial situation, coupled with changes in the law both here and in New Jersey, where we are already named in one lawsuit and where we anticipate more to follow, left us with no other path forward to ensure the future of our Diocese. Despite the success of the Survivor Compensation Program, which helped 111 survivors of clergy child sexual abuse, or 96% of those who participated in the Program, we already are in receipt of half a dozen new lawsuits, any one of which could severely cripple the Diocese.

As Bishop, I must ensure the Diocese’s core mission is upheld, which is to remain focused on Christ’s mandate to preach, teach, sanctify, and to serve those in need. We must work to bring the Chapter 11 process to a conclusion, as soon as is reasonably possible and in a way that allows us to be present to the community, as we have been for the past 152 years.

When I think about our current situation and the future, I cannot help but think about what it will take to rebuild and strengthen our Diocese as we move forward. You cannot build anything without a strong and solid foundation. As we read in Luke chapter six, verse 48, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on the rock; when the flood came, the rivers burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Our Diocese currently lacks that strong foundation; however, at the end of this difficult process, we will again have a solid foundation to build upon.

I understand that you may have additional questions. To help answer those questions, we have included various materials on this page about our path to a more vibrant and secure future as we look to lay A Foundation to Build Upon. Please know that we will update this information throughout this process as we move forward.

I humbly ask for your prayers for our Diocese as we move forward in this process. May God grant us every grace needed during this difficult time. May Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother, intercede with Her Son to be our strength and support as well.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,