The 15th Ordinary Synod of Bishops has one more week of meetings. The Synod concludes next Sunday. With the subject of the synod on “Youth, Young Adults and Vocational Discernment,” it has been interesting for me to follow what has been happening. As is often the case, what’s really happening isn’t in the official meetings of the delegates, but it’s in the “after meetings” – around meals, in the many cafes of Rome, and the like.
One story that hit home to me was reported on Friday, October 12. One interesting part of this Synod is that there are 36 of delegates ranging in age from 16-34, representing the Church’s young adults, who are fully participating in the Synod’s process. A twenty-something delegate from Samoa, expressed that young people are looking for clergy who are “father figures” and not Pharisees. In other words, young people seek priests and bishops who assist them in understanding the life of Christ and the Church, not ones who are just about the rules, regulations and laws that have to be followed.
My first thought was, “How profound!” One of the reasons that priests came to be called “Father” centuries ago was that their wisdom, insight and lived-experience was sought out in order to assist the lay faithful in being able to better live the Catholic faith, especially in challenging times. Those times are certainly not limited to the past; I think we can agree that we are in very challenging times now.
Our Cathedral Parish has a lively, wonderful Youth Ministry that is led by our Youth Minister, Ryan Poticny. Some Sunday evenings there can be 50-plus teens gathered at Bosco House. Things such as this give hope for the near-term and long-term future of the Church. All of us can be part of their growth in the faith, not only in the manner by which we live the faith, but the times when we can share it over casual conversations and definite times of need and challenge.