AUSCP 2023 Assembly

Unity Through Synodality


JUNE 12 -15, 2023

University of San Diego • San Diego, California

Assembly 2023 • Summary

July 8, 2023

The 12th Annual AUSCP Assembly was held June 12-15, at the University of San Diego. It was an opportunity to become “engaged with our sisters and brothers dissecting our theme, Unity through Synodality,” said Father Greg Barras, who was re-elected to another term as chairman of the AUSCP Leadership Team. “We continue to build and to grow from the spirit of our forefathers who discerned the spiritual core of AUSCP rests in the Spirit of Vatican II that is calling us to conversion every day and inspiring us to ‘enlarge our tent,’” Barras added. Read his reflection here.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy welcomed AUSCP members and friends to the Assembly, on Monday, June 12, during Vespers. (A link will be inserted here when the video is available.) Earlier that day, Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM, Founder and President of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, led a retreat on Responding from a Contemplative Heart: Living Synodality in a Polarized World. Sylvester also guided participants through the keynotes and events.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was to give a keynote and celebrate the Assembly Mass, instead attended a Eucharistic Congress in Congo at the personal request of Pope Francis. He joined us by way of a video interview with Father Stephen Newton CSC.

The remaining keynoter videos will be available soon. Speakers and themes were as follows:

Dr. Massimo Faggioli, Professor of Theology and Religious studies, Villanova University, on the topic, The “Synodal Process” in the USA and in the Global Church: A Geography of Hope.”

Dr. Brian Flanagan, Associate Professor of Theology at Marymount University, (replacing previously scheduled Cardinal Tagle), on the topic, Synods as Liturgy: Presiding in a Synodal Church.

Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University, on the topic, Bridge People or Neglected and Peripheral? Latinas/Latinos Catholic in the US.

Sebastian Gomes and Zak Davis, from America Media, presented a new documentary on parish life, “People of God: How Catholic Parish Life is Changing in the United States.” The documentary may be viewed online by America subscribers. Gomes and Davis are available to speak to any AUSCP members about a screening event or group subscriptions in their parishes.

Media coverage of the assembly included a report by Dennis Sadowski for National Catholic Reporter, and a summary on Today’s American Catholic by Michael Centore.

Leadership Elections and Voting Initiatives

The Assembly elected four members to the Assembly Leadership Team: Louis Arceneaux, CM, New Orleans; Bernard Kwame Assenyoh, Livermore, California; Michael Hicks, Diocese of Fargo; and Neil Pezzulo, Glenmary Home Missioners. Officers were elected by the team: Greg Barras, Diocese of Biloxi, chair; Michael; Bausch, Diocese of Rochester, Vice-Chair; Michael Hickin, Secretary; and Neil Pezzulo, Treasurer.

By a unanimous voice vote, Assembly participants affirmed a statement which had been previously for their consideration, “Being Gay, Ordained, Faithful to the Church and Appreciated by the Church: Are all these possible in today’s Church?”

What’s Next?

The work of the AUSCP continues after the Assembly, for the Work Group, Mutual Support, with this update: What was learned from the Colloquium on Support of Priests: “How can we better support priests?” During the AUSCP assembly in San Diego, the Mutual Support Working Group held two colloquiums. This is a summary of the “How can we better support priests?” session to inform all members of AUSCP about the conversation and challenges that were surfaced.  This colloquium was organized to listen and share with one another the expressed needs of our membership. Read the complete report HERE.

The organization, Discerning Deacons, was prominently present at the Assembly, discussing the role of women in the Church; co-founders Ellie Hidalgo and Casey Stanton were honored with the St. John XXIII Award, as were the 27 “Founding Fathers” of the AUSCP and Father Emmet Farrell of the Diocese of San Diego.

Immigration Initiative

At the end of the AUSCP Assembly in San Diego, there was an opportunity to embark on a journey to see how immigrants are faring on both sides of the border. Sponsored by the AUSCP Immigration Working Group, the trip was organized by Fr. Rob Riedy (Diocese of Cleveland). Twenty-two participated. They first toured the San Diego Catholic Charities Center which occupies a hotel used by the state of California to process asylum refugees. The center addresses food, clothing, hygiene, medical and shelter needs. A common medical need is blisters on the feet and the need for rest.

Next, the group journeyed across the border to a house for migrants. The Casa Del Migrante in Tijuana has been operating for 36 years. It is a ministry of the “Fathers of St. Charles-Casa Del Migrante”. The staff and volunteers provide a safe space for all those who leave their countries for various reasons. In 2022, it served 1,261 people from 19 different nationalities.

When Fr. Pat Murphy, C.S., Director, was asked what we should say to the people we meet in our US places of origin, he said: “Tell them that the over whelming numbers of people are fleeing the environment of drug cartels who order them to abandon their homes so the cartel can occupy them, or parents fear their children will be recruited into the “cartel industry” of producing and trafficking drugs.”

Father Kevin Clinton reflects on “Meeting Disciples Without Borders” by “Going to the Margins.”

Did you take any pictures? Send them to us!

Email your Assembly pictures to and we’ll share them with our members!

Assembly Featured Presenters

More information coming soon. 

Brian P. Flanagan

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Massimo Faggioli

Keynote Speaker

Cecilia González-Andrieu, PhD.

Keynote Speaker

Nancy Sylvester, IHM

Retreat Leader & Contemplative Facilitator