The Big Listen

In October 2023, our diocese launched the first key stage of its diocesan synod, entitled “The Big Listen”.

Running between October 2023 and January 2024, this stage of the process seeks to hear from as many people as possible to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing our diocese, and how God might be calling us to respond.

Throughout the process, we asked parishes, schools, groups, and individuals to help us by reflecting on and responding to four key questions that help us identify the role and mission of the Church in our diocese today.

Responses are being gathered by Synod members through Big Listen events in parishes across the diocese, in addition to specific groups such as young adults, LGBT+ Catholics, and Caritas service users. Our Youth Ministry team has also been visiting schools and colleges across the diocese to hear from the youngest members of our diocesan community.

For anyone unable to attend a Big Listen event, responses can also be made online via our Synod Portal.

To find out more or respond to our synod online, please head to, or continue reading to find out more about a few of the Big Listen events across the diocese.

Big Listen events

Eager to hear from as many people as possible, St Catherine’s in Didsbury has held five Big Listen sessions over the past few months. Offering both morning and evening sessions, as well as some meetings directly after Mass, the flexibility of this approach has reaped the benefit of fantastic engagement, with all attendees being receptive and willing to share their thoughts in answer to the questions.

Synod Members for the parish described the sessions as being reverent and thoughtful, welcoming a wide range of people of all ages, as well converts to Catholicism and non-Catholics who attend Mass with their families.

Members also produced a questionnaire for the parish priest to take along to housebound or unwell parishioners who were unable to attend the sessions or access the portal online.

Throughout the process, the team has collected a wide range or responses that are pointing towards strong themes to help us on our journey of faith.

St Catherine of Siena's Synod table incudes a framed photo of a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, a gold-coloured plate covered in orange leaves, with two lit pillar candles and three stones saying "hope", "pray", and "gratitude".

Parishioners from St Cuthbert’s came together for two listening sessions for both of its Bolton churches.

Attendees shared positive feedback on the experience, reporting that they felt the meetings were worthwhile. To supplement the responses from the sessions, members provided questionnaire sheets at all Masses one weekend and analysed responses accordingly.

The parish of St John Henry Newman, Urmston, was among one of the first parishes in our diocese to hold a Big Listen session.

Taking place in October, the attendees reported the evening to be highly prayerful with a wonderful focus on the Holy Spirit.

The parish of St Cuthbert’s in Withington had a special Big Listen focus at the end of November with three separate meetings.

The group pulled together a creative display to reflect the prayerful nature of the Big Listen and to further information about our diocesan synod and how this first key stage fits into our overall journey.

Offering prayer cards with the words of our diocesan synod, parishioners were invited to participate with the process through prayer and action by encouraging them to respond to our questions during the evening.

A lit pillar candle stands next to 3D letters spelling the word "Synod" on top of a table with a red table cloth, in front of which lay synod prayer cards and the synod question. A poster displaying the Synod logo was placed in front of the table, as well as further decorative features.

Synod members from St John Fisher’s in Kearsley have held two Big Listen sessions, reported to be “rewarding, enlightening, and spiritually uplifting” experiences.

Taking place in October, this small parish enjoyed a wonderful turnout who relished the opportunity to listen to each other’s thoughts and views to help form responses to our Big Listen questions.

Ahead of the sessions, synod members and parish priest Fr Bryan were determined to ensure the meetings were rooted in prayer.

The sessions began with a prayerful service in the Schoenstatt shrine, where attendees gathered and prayed together for the Holy Spirit to accompany the group and to help them listen to what is was God was asking of them. Complete with hymns, meditation, and prayer, this beautiful service provided a real cornerstone for the event, helping everyone to focus ahead of the discussion stage.

At the start of November, parishioners at St John Southworth held five Big Listen sessions, welcoming a fantastic number of attendees throughout.

Taking place across a range of times and places, the parish also had a focus on engaging with a variety of different people, particularly younger parishioners.

Members joined up with children’s liturgy groups across the two churches for a special KS2 Listening Exercise, in addition to holding a pizza party to combine with another session, and holding a further event after a Sunday Mass.

On Saturday 9th December 2024, members of Religious Communities in our Diocese gathered for a day of prayer and reflection.

The day was led and facilitated by Fr Gerry O’shaughnessy SDB and Sr Joan O’Gorman FMSJ.

During the session, attendees addressed in their reflection and discussion how their various charisms relate to synodality in our Church, and how they try to make this ‘real’ through their ministries in the Diocese of Salford.

In addition, the group reflected on the impact of age, and what has become more important – their ‘Being’ as well as their ‘Doing’

Young people across the diocese are helping to shape the future of our local Church after taking an active role in our diocesan synod.

In November, almost 30 young adults from parishes across the diocese gathered at St Augustine’s church in Manchester to take part in the Big Listen exercise for our young adult community.

Fr David Yates, director for Salford Youth and Young Adults Ministry, began the session by celebrating the monthly young adults Mass, before the group came together to learn more about the diocesan synod and their role in developing the Church across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

The exercise was led by Young Adults Synod Members, Rachel Li and Maureen Usiagwu, who guided the group through the four questions of the Big Listen and collected their responses.

Reflecting on the exercise, the group gave fantastic feedback, reporting that the session helped them understand more about our diocesan synod and the role we’re all being asked to play in the future of our Church.

One attendee, Efe, said: “I liked the structure of the session and the whole thing was better than I was expecting from a church meeting! It gets you to think seriously about how we live our lives and our faith, which is a good thing.”

Another group member, Mary, added: “What I liked about the questions is that there are no right or wrong answers and by talking about these things openly with other people, you come to realise that a lot of people see things the same way.

“Before this evening, I didn’t have a clue what a synod was, what the questions were, what the diocese was asking of us, but just looking at the questions, I realised that it’s just asking us what we’ve always been asked: how can we live out our faith today?”

Collage of three photos showing small groups of young adults sitting round tables in discussion and Young Adult Synod Member Maureen Usiagwu leading the session