Share this story

In Their Own Words: Synod Delegate Reflections

After 10 months of preparation, 100 consultation sessions, and an online survey sent to all diocesan faithful, the Diocese of San José Diocesan Synod General Assembly was held during the weekend of January 27-29, 2023. Nearly 200 pastor-selected delegates representing parishes, schools, and local Catholic organizations gathered in a spirit of prayer and discernment to prioritize the many recommendations that resulted from the preparation efforts. During the final hours of the synod, delegates openly and honestly shared their reflections and takeaways from the weekend. Below are only a few selections. These are presented in more depth alongside a detailed summary of the weekend on our website,

“Being chosen as a delegate by my pastor, Fr. Joe Kim, to be a part of this historical assembly known as the 2023 Synod of San José was a profound gift from God. I was truly honored to be entrusted with this responsibility to voice and advocate through my vote and insight. Working with many experienced, diverse, and dedicated parishioners, leaders, laity, and clergy here gave me the hope of being heard, cared for, and truly cherished. This Synod shows that no brother or sister, parish, or community, can be left without aid, support, inclusion, and love.”

Esmeralda Heredia, from St. John Vianney, serves as an Alpha Ministries USA youth leader, altar server, and commentator.

“I was part of the Spanish small group since Spanish speakers can comment more openly and clearly on the proposals. We paid close attention while we collaborated to what each person shared. We noticed that we were developing friendships and how the presence of the Holy Spirit was present in those 10 minutes of silent discernment before voting. We opened ourselves to the presence and voice of the Lord so that the Holy Spirit could lead our minds to decide what our churches and Catholic schools need for the good of the whole community. We thank God for the opportunity to be present and participate in this synodal process.”

Roberto Tapia, from Our Lady of Guadalupe, serves as a Eucharistic Minister and a Mass Coordinator.

“Serving as a delegate for the Diocesan Synod Weekend was an honor. As a young adult lay Catholic woman, I feel strongly about participating in the synodal process of envisioning and prioritizing future diocesan endeavors. During this weekend, listening and learning about each delegateʼs different experiences was exciting. People were honest and curious. I appreciate that all the parishes and schools were consulted and involved in this journey. Seeing everyone gathered helped me realize the wide scope of our community support. It was a reminder that we can always reach out, confident that someone will support us. I genuinely felt like the diocese is listening, with thoughtful people prayerfully discerning what our community really needs.”

Claire Lin, from the San José Chinese Catholic Mission (SJCCM), serves as a catechist, high school youth minister, and liturgical minister.

“By the intercession of the Holy Spirit, we actively listened, engaged in meaningful dialogue, and even laughed at times. I give thanks to our triune God for everyone and for all the ways we surrendered to the Holy Spirit to assist, prepare, and accompany us throughout our participation in this first-ever diocesan Synod. As we continue to invoke the Holy Spirit in our prayers, let us remain united and mindful of one another; [and let us pray for] the Planning and Steering Committees and for Bishop Cantú, that the Holy Spirit rest upon their continued works, upon the leadership and ministers of our faith communities; and for the implementation of a spirit-led diocesan Pastoral Plan.”

Arlene H. Quiogue, from Church of the Ascension and St Joseph Mountain View, serves as RCIA/OCIA Catechist, Lector, choir member, and is a graduate of ILM.

“This gathering is a microcosm of the diocese that reflects our diversity. Listening to people speak ensures that our Church will respond to the real needs of our people who long for a church that supports them in their struggles and accompanies them in their lives. We are meant to be a community of love, support, and compassion, following the example of Jesus, who gave his life for us and calls us to do the same. If we can be credible witnesses here, we can be an example for the Church throughout the country.”

Msgr. Gene O'Donnell is a retired priest of the diocese who continues to minister in a few parishes in San José.

“In many ways, I feel, we genuinely lived out the Spirit of unity in holiness as a community of faithful Christians. Yes, indeed, this weekend we walked the talk! This experience motivated us to live out this diversity as a unified Church moving beyond our local church boundaries, and also to serve as an inspirational model for Santa Clara County residents despite all the turmoil and divisiveness in our current society.”

Chu Quang Dinh serves as a deacon at the Our Lady of La Vang Parish.

“I came to the Synod weekend optimistic to find hope for the needs of the Diocese of San Jose. Having been invited to be a delegate for the Synod has been a blessing. It allowed me to discern Godʼs will, and share my voice and insights, in the hope that it will make a difference for the greater good of our community, so that we truly create a legacy for now and for generations to come.”

Therie Velasco-Gonzales M.A., from Saint Lawrence the Martyr Parish, serves as a Music Minister, Lector, Adult Confirmation Coordinator, and Sacramental Preparation Catechist. She holds a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministries from Santa Clara University and is an alumna of the Advanced Lay Leadership program, class of ’22.

“At times, I find myself like St. Paul, a man who was blinded and fell off his horse. As a young adult, it is not easy to discern and know what is best for your life. Are my actions sustainable? Am I doing God’s will? Even more practically, I wonder how I can afford Bay Area rent, what my next job will be, whether I can afford to get married, raise a family. For a young adult to call Silicon Valley their home, let alone the Diocese of San José as my diocese, it is challenging on a purely practical level. The Synod has helped me to see like St. Paul, after his sight was restored. I can see the beauty of the Church and how I fit into the Church’s life in this valley. I walk away with this: many people here believe we should tackle the practical issues I mentioned but most importantly, more than earning a higher wage, I want to earn spiritual fulfillment as I embrace my vocation in working for the Church. I am excited about the work accomplished by the Synod and hope that I can be part of our Churchʼs future.”

Ryan Bao, from St. Clare Parish, works for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) and is the Confirmation Director at St. Clare.

“I did not know exactly what to expect coming into this three-day event, and so initially, I felt anxious as we were gathering on Friday evening. When I communicated my fears to my table group, to my surprise, I discovered all seven of us felt very similarly. We all concurred that we were “cautiously excited” for the weekend ahead. By the end of the Synod my whole outlook and initial sentiments about the event were completely changed. My feelings of anxiety, fear, and dread were overshadowed by hope, validation, and empowerment. The stories, laughs, tears, and friendships formed from the weekend are just a few of the many highlights that I will never forget.”

Kevin Bernaga, Director of Liturgy and Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Confirmation at St. Francis of Assisi Parish

“As I reflected on what I would share with my own school community after returning from the Synod, two things resonated with me most. The first was an overwhelming call for supporting our youth ministry and engaging the youth in our parishes and schools. Secondly, implementing minor changes now will have a significant impact on how we engage our communities later, which will surely help to unify the Church. I look forward to being part of this work in the Diocese of San Jose.”

Monica Hernandez, Principal at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception School


Responses were edited for length and clarity.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)