“Another conference? Why is this relevant?”

Pope Francis has convened the 15th Synod of Bishops for this October. Perhaps you might remember the Diocesan Synod which the Diocese of Bridgeport experienced as a family of faith a few years ago. A Synod of Bishops brings together bishops from around the world, to discuss important topics in a fraternal way with the Pope, their brother bishop and leader. The 15th Synod has as its focus “young people, faith, and vocational discernment.” It is a vital topic in a time where many young people in the United States are disaffiliating with the Church, ceasing to practice or leaving altogether.

In his wisdom, Pope Francis has invited 300 young people from around the world to come together in Rome for one week as a pre-Synodal meeting – a gathering to prepare a document which will inform the Pope and Bishops’ work in October. “Another conference?” You might think. “Why is this relevant?”

What stands out about this week’s gathering is that it actually calls together the topics of the conversation to be protagonists of the conversation. It is authentic to actually bring the people that you are talking about to the table, and invite them to help shape the conversation in a way that is faithful to their lived experience. This is what Pope Francis did by asking us young people to be present this week: have a hand in the ways the Church will hear, understand, and engage with us.

What is striking to me, as one of the 300 participants, is how BIG the Church is. To spend my days with young people from sub-Saharan Africa, the furthest reaches of Asia, countries whose names I can’t pronounce – all living experiences I can only imagine. They see the Church through many lenses and live out their faith in many different ways. The global context of this occasion is so important for providing perspective: the issues which we think are of paramount importance can be far from the needs of our brothers and sisters.

Please pray for the work of this week’s gathering, where young people are leading the conversation in the Church in a new way. Come, Holy Spirit!

By: Nicole Perone, Synod Delegate