In general, I’m a pretty hopeful person about the future of the Church – even more so with the announcement of the theme for the upcoming Synod of Bishops.
Pope Francis announced late last year the theme for the upcoming Synod of Bishops to be held in Oct. 2018 as “Young people, faith and vocational discernment.” The aim according to the Vatican is to walk with the youth of the Church to help them understand God’s will for their life and use that to build up the Church.
I for one am definitely tired of hearing that the Church is leaving young people behind and lacks a future, so this announcement fills my heart with joy. Recognizing and including young people is an essential part of their active participation in all parts of the Catholic Church.
It’s also important for young people to be given the opportunity to lead. This revitalization is essential for the growth of our local parishes and universal Church. It’s critical for dioceses to have strong youth ministries that are present in many parishes. It’s also important dioceses establish strong vocations offices to carry out the tasks of attracting young people to serve their Church.
The problem is young people don’t even know how to get involved. They want to do something, but they don’t know how and they aren’t give the opportunity to. It’s great that strong youth offices are established, but we need youth in those offices! This is critical because it brings with it new perspectives and a youthful Church.
The problem may be young people aren’t trusted, but it’s about time that changes! We should be the people many come to when they need help in their local churches. Whether it be a BBQ, a fun day or a parish supper giving young people the opportunity to help in their parishes will give them more responsibility and love for the truth.
We only need to look to the countless examples of the lives of young saints to demonstrate to all of us how impactful young people can be. Their lives are examples to all of us how the energy of young people can be used for the good of our Church.
Additionally, it’s about time young people understand that vocation doesn’t need to be a scary word or something that will force them to give up everything for the Lord. Practical and regular groups that meet within a diocese to discuss how to discern and to understand the call the Lord may be placing on their heart is a great way to grow with others and embrace their identity from Christ. This will not only break the taboo around vocations, but also give the opportunity for young people to journey with other who are on the same path; to become a saint.
Vocation should not be approached as a decision that either sends someone to Heaven or Hell. Vocations should be approached as bringing young people into the greatest person they can be in whatever vocation they’re called too.
I’m hopeful when the the Bishops meet in 2018 they determine ways we can build up young people as leaders in the Church and for the world. Doing this will create missionaries who boldly share the love Christ, doctors who stand up for the right to life in all instances and educators who share the Gospel clearly and simply with those in the school system. It will also make better husbands, priests, wives, nuns, sisters and single who give their yes to Jesus everyday to serve Him in the mission He has given them.
I have expectant faith this synod will bring with it a revitalization of young people in the Church who hold nothing back.
My great hope is that by including young people in the process and these discussions we feel more involved in the Church. I hope that this discussion doesn’t stop flat, but rather finds many ways we can bring together youth who have the power to lead the Church with new energy in creative ways and change the world.