Faith Formation

Synod on young people coming in 2018

Dioceses around the world are preparing for the event

By Dan Russo
Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — The Catholic Church is preparing for a serious global discussion with and about young people.

In October 2018, the Vatican will host the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” As part of the preparation for this event, Pope Francis has asked local bishops to gather information, which will later be shared nationally and internationally.

Earlier this year, the pope released a preparatory document to serve the young as a “compass on the journey ahead.”

“As bishops, this document will be our compass, too,” stated Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R, of Newark, and Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, in a joint statement. These prelates chair the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committees on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively.

“We pray that it will guide our steps as we walk alongside our young people in preparing for this global conversation,” they said.

The preparatory document explores the situations of young people today as they discern their vocations and face other challenges.

“In keeping with this mission and introducing a new approach through a Synod with the topic, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” 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,” says the preparatory document. “By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world. As in the days of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-21) and Jeremiah (cf. Jer 1:4-10), young people know how to discern the signs of our times, indicated by the Spirit. Listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow.”

For the purposes of the document, young people between the ages of 16-29 are the particular focus. A variety of topics are covered, including the effect of technology, vocational discernment, and pastoral activity and daily life and commitment. For example, on the topic of technology and youth, the document reflects on reaching out to a “hyper-connected generation.”

“Today, the younger generation is characterized by its relationship with the modern technologies of communication and what is normally called the ‘virtual world,’ which has very real effects.”

“This ‘virtual world’ provides potential access to a range of opportunities which previous generations did not enjoy, but not without its risks. Nevertheless, it is very important to focus on how the experience of technologically mediated relations might structure the conception of the world, reality and interpersonal relationships. On this basis, the Church is called upon to evaluate her pastoral ­activity, which needs to develop an appropriate culture.”

After examining the issues facing youth and their relationship to God and the Catholic Church, the document offers guid­ance on questions to ask for information gathering purposes, with some specific suggestions for the church in various regions of the world. The full text of the preparatory document can be read on the Vatican website.

The text of a survey the Archdiocese of Dubuque has released is published on Pages 8-9 of the May 28 issue of The Witness. It can be mailed in or filled out online.


Young people of the archdiocese stand around a fire while participating in a recent youth event sponsored by the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Faith Formation. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Feyen/director of the Office of Adolescent Faith Formation)