Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment
It is an exciting time to be a young person in the Church!
In October 2018, Pope Francis will call forth the 15thOrdinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment”. Next month, bishops from around the world, with the Pope, will gather as Church “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 way to announce the Good News today.” (preparatory document) The preparatory document included a questionnaire for countries to reflect on and submit back to the Vatican. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent this questionnaire out to each of the diocese and compiled the results before submitting their findings to the Vatican. Last summer, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston held five listening sessions across the state. In total, 187 young people gathered to share their thoughts. The information gathered in Wheeling, Inwood, Charles Town, Morgantown, and Charleston was then compiled and sent back to the USCCB. Even with Synod is happening on a global scale, the voices of our young people in West Virginia were heard.
While the Synod itself is not a gathering of youth rather of bishops, young people from around the world gathered in March 2018 at the Pre-Synod Gathering in Rome. The United States sent three young adult delegates chosen by the USCCB: Katie Prejean McGrady, Nick López, and Br. Javier Hansen. From this meeting, a Pre-Synod working document was created after many days of discussions from the young adults present who were representing the young people from around the world. Pope Francis stated that “we must listen to the young people. This is why the conclusions of the March meeting will be communicated to the synod fathers.” The Pre-Synod meeting final document brought to light many topics youth from the United States, even the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, face on a day to day basis including the formation of personality, relationship with technology, and the search for meaning in life. Other topics of discussions included young people and accompaniment, vocational discernment, and young leaders. As a document about young people, produced by young people, the Pre-Synod Working Document can be a helpful resource to see how young people see the Church and her role in the world today.
While it is hard to pinpoint all that will come out of this Synod, one word that keeps coming up not only in pre-synod documents, but also in Pope Francis’ addresses is the topic of accompaniment. If anything, the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document) that will be produced as a result of the gathering of bishops will provide an outline on how to accompany a young person on the journey of faith. Chapter IV of the Instrumentum Laboris has already been entitled “The Art of Accompaniment” with subtopics based around spiritual accompaniment, accompaniment in everyday life, social accompaniment, psychological accompaniment, to name a few. As ministers to the youth of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, we are called to accompany all the youth from our parishes in life’s journey whether it’s the young person that comes to every youth event to the young person that avoids eye contact with you at all costs. This document will help the Church better understand the joys and struggles youth face in today’s society so that we can better accompany every young person that walks through the doors of Churches. The Office of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry is excited to follow updates about the synod and share those updates with everyone involved in ministering to the diocese’s young people.
“In the task of accompanying the younger generations, the Church accepts her call to collaboration in the joy of young people…such a service is ultimately founded in prayer and in asking for the gift of the Spirit, Who guides and enlightens each and every one.” –Pope Francis