“An experience of the living Church, on a journey, in dialogue, and going forth,” are the words of Paola Pepe e Jonathan Michelon (the people responsible for the International Gen Schools of Loppiano), summarizing the experience of the International Seminar on the situation of young people. This is part of a series organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for the XV Ordinary General Assembly on the theme, “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” “We had an experience of profound communion, ‘synod training’ in contact with various ecclesiastical institutions. Since the summer we have been preparing, along with other youth of the Focolare from different countries, in order to send our contribution to the General Secretariat of the Synod,” they wrote, together with Leandro (Argentina), Marina (Brazil) and Nelson (El Salvador).
The program of the Seminar was rich in content for the authoritative work by education providers, economists, communications experts, sociologists, and youth chaperones, all passionate about working with young people.
Out of 82 participants from 5 continents, there were 21 young people present, who gave their valuable contribution to the work being done, reflecting on the proposals of method and content for the upcoming synod. It was very significant that the organizing body readily welcomed and implemented some of their suggestions regarding the methodology of the unfolding of the program, with greater sharing in plenary.
“The Biblical meditations at the start of each day led us to profound reflection. One that impressed us was the passage which brought to light that to reveal the life of Jesus to the young, one must have experienced it: how important is the testimony of life!”
The various themes on young people in relation to identity, planning, otherness, technology, and transcendence proposed realistic scenarios not without their challenges but always open to hope. They talked about the importance of pastoral initiatives in which young people are the protagonists when accompanied by adults willing to live with them the search for the meaning of life. “Now we want to elaborate the experiences that we live with their educational and evangelizing value to offer to the Church.”
“The seminar was a great opportunity for the Church to be open, to show what she is doing for the young; and for us to work with the Church, to change the realities of the world. The Church wants to listen to us, to know what we think, what we can do concretely, and it wants to face the difficulties with us. We did not find answers, but we proceed together,” Marina explains.
“Concrete proposals have emerged that will be presented to the Synod Fathers. Among these, a team of young people alongside the work of the General Secretariat of the Synod to prepare opportunities for discussion and dialogue during the work of the Synod among bishops and young people and firmly engage some of them in the offices of the Holy See; a Church recognized by all as ‘home – communion – family.’ Of the days spent in Rome, we bring away so many pearls, such as in the preparatory document which speaks of young people: ‘The possibility of their blossoming depends on the capacity of our care, not by the desire to change the other but to grow together.’”
“The Synod of Youth – concludes Cardinal Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod on Youth – can represent a part of that missionary renewal of the Church, which for the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, constitutes the challenge of this age. We must address young people not only to help us understand how to proclaim the Gospel but also to better understand what Jesus asks of His Church, what he expects from it, what to cut and what to sew again for this mission.” Another “part” will certainly be the Genfest 2018 to be held in Manila (Philippines) and also the World Youth Day (WYD) in January 2019 in Panama.