19 July, 2018
By Barbara Bartlett, SHCJ and Julian Omudu, SHCJ
The Synod on Youth, convened by Pope Francis, will take place in October 2018. In preparation, SEDOS held a residential seminar in Arricia, near Rome, attended by 120 religious and lay men and women – from all over the globe – who work with young people in many contexts, e.g. chaplaincy, schools and formation.
The SHCJ present included Veronica Openibo, the current President of SEDOS (Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission), Juliana Omudu, African Province, and Barbara Bartlett, American Province. Anne Stewart, European Province, was unable to attend.
Throughout the discussions and different inputs, what came across strongly was a call to listen to, believe in and trust young people, their potential and their vocation, inviting them to live their faith with joy in the midst of many intercultural challenges. Despite ageing and diminishing numbers in many religious congregations, the Church seeks to convey and attract young people by living out its vocation.
Emilia Palladino: The Way Millennials Think and Act
Professor Emilia Palladino, herself a parent of two millennials, shared her insights into the newer generations in society today, i.e. Millennials, X, Y, Z., born between 1980 and 2000. Commitment, relationships, and the need for the Church to be aware of the characteristics of and contrasts between each of these generations were considered .
Bruna Zaltron SCM: Generated by Life to Correspond to Love
Relationships are a key to growth throughout life. Young people are continually generating themselves with the gift that is their life, enabling them to grow in a sense of responsibility and openness, including to suffering like Jesus, knowing what is deepest in their heart.
Paul Raj FSG: The Role and Challenges of Evangelization for Youth in the Multicultural and Pluralistic World of Today
To evangelize is to proclaim Jesus in the reality of the here and now and isolation is not possible amidst the gifts and dreams of other cultures. The presenter encouraged participants (and the Church as a whole) to take our multicultural world seriously as a refusal to do this will end in death.
Michael Papenkordt: What Moves Me To Become a Lay Missionary
Papenkordt, an entertaining and informative presenter, served as a lay missionary when a young man. He made it clear that evangelization is about someone developing a relationship with Jesus not the evangelizer, who must have that relationship as well to ensure that missionary efforts are directed correctly.
Paul Bednarczyck CSC: Learnings from Vocation Ministry in the US.
In 2008 976 Societies were surveyed (66% response). Questions and topics included: who are coming, what charisms are emerging, a culture of vocations, what are some of the best practices in planning and strategizing. Looking at the older members of his own congregation, Bednarczyck talked about the characteristics and the quality of their religious lives with regard to prayer and community.
Panel of Young Religious Missionaries
The panel included two young priests, a novice from a women’s congregation, and a finally professed woman religious. Each spoke on his/her own experience and answered questions. A strong message came through that newer members, welcoming the support of older members, want to make contributions to their congregations, appreciating when their ideas are solicited and then put into practice.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri outlined the processes followed in preparation for the Synod and emphasized that it is about all young people, whether they are believers or not. It is about how the Church can reach out to all. About 300 young people had come to Rome in March as part of the preparations.
The Cardinal said that following the expressed need to involve the Youth in evangelization, the Church has decided to examine herself on how she 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. By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world.
The gathering, by a beautiful lake, was a very rich one. Participants chatted with each other informally over meals and breaks. In the evenings optional activities were available such as the film “Silence”, a recorded video presentation on Religious Life by Father Timothy Radcliff OP, and a performance by a choir of young adults who stayed for a final night’s party where all enjoyed refreshments, conversation, and even dancing for those inclined. The participants were grateful for the hospitality they experienced while there.