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Young adult leaders gather for post-synod discussion

VATICAN (CNS): Catholic young adults felt the Church hierarchy started listening to them in preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, and they will do whatever they can to make sure their voices continue to be heard, Isabella McCafferty from the Archdiocese of Wellington New Zealand said at a Vatican news conference on June 18
“May we be bold,” she said.
 
McCafferty was one of more than 280 young people from 109 countries set to take part in a post-synod Youth Forum from June 19 to 22.
 
The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life asked the bishops’ conferences around the world to identify two young adult leaders to participate in the forum, which was held at a retreat centre just south of Rome.
 
Schonstatt Father Alexandre Awi Mello, secretary of the dicastery, told reporters, “There is always a risk that after a big event people lose enthusiasm, move on to the next thing,” but Pope Francis and the dicastery are serious about not letting that happen.
 
“The synod on young people is in its realisation phase,” he said. “There is still much to be done,” and the forum was designed to continue that conversation with young adults who are experienced in reaching out to their peers.
 
McCafferty said, “Young people want the Church to give them room to be involved. So, yes, they want their voice heard, but they also want to be part of the things that happen after that,” (such as) actually implementing changes.
 
She pointed out that involving young people in sharing the gospel message in ways that are relevant and makes sense to them and to their peers—for example, through the use of social media—is especially important.
 
She added that young people are also deeply committed to protecting the environment and want to be involved in the efforts of the Church to reduce its impact on the environment and to promote respect for God’s creation.
 
Most of all, young people are looking for “an authentic Church,” she said.
 
“Authenticity is about transparency, it’s about vulnerability at times, but it’s also about ground level, about being community,” McCafferty said. 
 
“Rather than always thinking of the Church as this thing that happens in Rome, it’s about what it means to be Church in our local area,” and it always involves “person-to-person contact.”
 
When a young adult goes to a parish church regularly for months and only one person talks to them—it happens, she said—it tells that young adult that an authentic, caring community does not exist there.
 
“Young people don’t feel particularly welcome” in many Church communities, she said. “Young people are looking for an encounter with each other, with the Church and with the sacraments, but it needs to happen in relevant ways for them,” which involves a willingness to “interlink with each other more and holding each other up.” 

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