Every now and then (read, all the time) the Church does something extraordinary. Fulfilling the mission of to “Go and make disciples of all nations” set forth by Jesus Christ requires bold action, courage, innovation, and ultimately, complete trust of the Holy Spirit. Winning hearts for the Lord isn’t always easy, but is definitely always necessary, and it demands that the Church look to engage with the world to boldly proclaim the truth of the faith and lead people to an authentic encounter with Jesus.
No doubt with that in mind, Pope Francis has called for a Synod (gathering of Bishops) to specifically address the issues concerning young people, faith, and vocational discernment this fall. This Synod will result in a document that will, no doubt, be used to shape youth ministry, adolescent education, and vocational formation for years to come. The conversations that will occur at this Synod will certainly be significant and not to be missed, because ultimately, they are meant to result in practical ways that the Church can “lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today” (from the Prepatory Document for the XV Ordinary General Assembly on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment).
In preparing for this Synod gathering of Bishops, Pope Francis has done something unique: he has called for a pre-synodal gathering of 300 men and women from around the world to come to the Vatican and engage in a week of dialogue, discussions, and prayer. The ultimate goal of this pre-synod: to hear from those who are actively ministering to and working with young people to gain perspective and insight on what the Church should be doing to help youth meet Christ and evangelize others.
3 representatives have been selected by the USCCB to attend this pre-synod gathering on behalf of the United States: Nick Lopez, Br. Javier Hansen, and myself, Katie Prejean McGrady.
Together, we will travel to Rome in March to join these conversations and bring to the table our unique perspectives on how the United States engages with young people and ministers to them.
Even though we are the (very blessed and lucky) chosen three to represent the United States, the countless other men and women doing ministry and working with youth can (and should) also be involved in this pre-synodal gathering.
Here are 5 ways you can join in and help the Pre-Synodal gathering occurring March 19 – 24, 2018:
Read the prepatory document for the Ordinary General Assembly on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.
If you want to get perspective on the mind of Pope Francis and the Bishops who will gather to discuss ways to lead young people to Christ (and how we’ve done it well and how we can do it better), then read this document carefully. It includes beautiful words of wisdom such as, “Through every phrase of this Synod, the Church wants again to state her desire to encounter, accompany, and care for every young person, without exception” and “Accompanying young people requires going beyond a preconceived framework, encountering young people where they are, adapting to their times and pace of life, and taking them seriously.”
There is a specific prayer written for this Synodal gathering!
Lord Jesus, in journeying towards the Synod, your Church turns her attention to all the young people of the world. We pray that they might boldly take charge of their lives, aim for the most beautiful and profound things of life and always keep their hearts unencumbered. Accompanied by wise and generous guides, help them respond to the call you make to each of them, to realize a proper plan of life and achieve happiness. Keep their hearts open to dreaming great dreams and make them concerned for the good of others. Like the Beloved Disciple, may they stand at the foot of the Cross, to receive your Mother as a gift from you. May they be witnesses to your Resurrection and be aware that you are at their side as they joyously proclaim you as Lord. Amen.
Follow @Synod2018 on Twitter to read updates and follow along with the pre-synod and Synod gatherings in real-time.
Want to know more about how the young people who will participate in the Pre-Synod chosen? Read this interview with Cardinal Baldisseri about the Pre-Synod and Synodal Gathering.
5. Stay tuned
Stay tuned for information about how to live-stream various aspects of the Pre-Synod gathering, including presentations made and opportunities to contribute thoughts in real-time (visit www.synod2018.va for information in March).
We should all be hoping and praying for the success of both the pre-synod and the Synod. The conversations that will occur are significantly important and ultimately will shape and form ministry to youth and young adults for years to come.
Come, Holy Spirit!