There are universal questions that stir in the hearts of young adults across the globe:
Does my voice matter?
Is anyone listening?
Can I really make a difference?
The Catholic Church answers these questions with a resounding, “Yes!”.
Although this answer has remained true throughout history, the Church is seeking out the voices, thoughts, and longings of young adults in a very specific and new way this year as she prepares for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in October.
What is this Synod all about?
Pope Francis has chosen"Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” as the theme for this important assembly, and is actively calling upon the young people of the world for their input.
In October of 2017 the Vatican released the preparatory document for the Synod, part of which was a request for every country in the world to survey its young people, the responses to which were compiled on the diocesan and then national levels and submitted to the Vatican. In addition to the survey, the Vatican is employing several other means of collecting feedback from young adults.
First, a Pre-synodal meeting is being held right now in Rome! It began on March 19 and will be in session until March 24th. Attending the meeting will be 300 delegates who will represent the young people of the world. They will discuss three major topics (Challenges and opportunities of young people in the world today; Faith and vocation, discernment and accompaniment; and the Church’s formative and pastoral activity) which have then also been divided into 15 more specific questions. The delegates will also be called upon to communicate answers to these questions that have been submitted via a Facebook group designed to give even more young people an opportunity to be heard.
Katie Prejean, one of three delegates selected by the USCCB to represent the young people of the United States, graciously shared this statement with FemCatholic:
“I am thrilled and honored to be representing the United States at the pre-synodal gathering. As a wife, mother, former classroom teacher and parish youth minister, and now a full time author and speaker, I'm hoping to bring a fairly wide-range of experiences in ministry in the U.S., and I hope I'm able to articulately and joyfully express the wonderful things happening with youth and young adult ministry in our country.
[It's interesting: when I was first informed that I'd been chosen to attend, I was told that the fact that I'm a wife and mom came up during the discernment process and they were excited to have me at the table representing the interests of both young people, young families, and young wives and moms who find themselves searching for authentic encounters with Christ. I'm looking forward to having honest, real conversations about how we can better serve young families and young couples…]
I'm looking forward to having honest, real conversations about how we can better serve young families and young couples... (and) how we can best advocate for and highlight the role of young women in the Church.
Furthermore, I'm hoping to discuss how we can best advocate for and highlight the role of young women in the Church, modeling our lives after Mary, our Mother, and being bold witnesses to what we believe. There's a lot of work to get done this week, but it's good work and all for the sake of the Kingdom. Pray for us!”
Although the time for submitting responses via the survey and facebook group have passed, anyone still interested in participating can post responses to the 15 specific questions on social media platforms using the hashtag #TellittoFrancis and the question’s corresponding hashtag. To follow the proceedings of the Pre-Synodal meeting and to view updated information on the Synod itself, visit the official Synod website.
Our call to get involved as Catholic Feminists
The Church is asking to hear our voice; She needs our voice. The popes of the last half century have specifically entreated women to seek a deeper understanding of their gifts, develop them, and boldly use them in service of the Church and the world.
Pope St. John Paul the Great in particular encouraged women of all vocations and stages of life and advocated for the dignity and equality of women throughout the world. He said that it is up to us women to “promote a ‘new feminism,’which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.” (Evangelium Vitae, 99)
The Church is asking to hear our voice; She needs our voice.
What do we have to offer?
Ladies, this is a significant calling, but we are up for the challenge! As you consider responding to Pope Francis’ request, reflect on what you, as a young woman, have to give, simply by sharing the authentic gift of yourself with others.
“The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.” Edith Stein
“For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfil their deepest vocation.” John Paul II, Letter to Women
How can the Church continue to support, or better support, you as you strive to discover and live out your particular vocation and become who God made you to be?
“Be who God intended you to be and you will set the world ablaze.” St. Catherine of Siena
How can your ability to put persons over projects or profits contribute to a better understanding of how the Church can relate to young people and the role of the Church in our ever changing world? How do you hope to serve others through your awareness of their needs and desires?
How can your ability to put persons over projects or profits contribute to a better understanding of how the Church can relate to young people and the role of the Church in our ever changing world?
“Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity...Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” John Paul II, Letter to Women
Together with our sisters and brothers throughout the world we are seeking a deeper understanding of ourselves, the world we live in, and ultimately God himself. Let’s continue the conversations begun this week by the delegates. Now is the time to dialogue about our seeking; we each have a unique perspective to share each other and the Church.
Have courage, ask questions, listen actively, and speak up - the Church is listening.