A week-long worldwide gathering of young Catholics has just concluded in Rome, leaving a historic mark on the life of the Catholic Church and giving its participant from the District of San Francisco New Orleans a considerable collection of unique experiences and memories.
The Pre-Synodal Gathering of Young People took place March 19–25 in Rome. Conceived as a preparatory step for the October, 2018 Ordinary Synod of Bishops, the Gathering aimed “to listen directly to the voices of young adults around the world.” Accordingly, it included approximately 300 in-person delegates and guests, with close to an additional 15,000 young persons participating via social media and other online platforms.
Among the delegates in attendance was Brother Javier Hansen, FSC, from the District of San Francisco New Orleans and the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). Selected as a representative from the United States to the Pre-Synod, Brother Javier was its only De La Salle Christian Brother delegate. He arrived at the Gathering looking forward to being able to “offer the perspective of many young religious in this country and those who are currently discerning religious life.”
With the theme, “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” the Pre-Synod Gathering focused on input and conversations around 15 key questions posed to participants. The questions addressed in various ways issues impacting the faith life of young people, vocation discernment among young people, and young people’s pastoral experience of the Church.
On the final day of the Pre-Synod, the delegates submitted to Pope Francis a formal summary of their observations and recommendations. Final Document of the Pre-Synodal Meeting of Young People is a 7000-plus word statement representing the distillation of 26 separate reports from the Gathering delegates’ work groups. Teams of writers and translators worked first on a draft version and then on the delegate-approved final version, which was published in English, Italian, and Spanish.
As the work of the Gathering began, Brother Javier posted this observation: “A true cosmopolitan experience. We began our work session by breaking up into language groups. English is the most popular with eight small groups”.
Both local and international news organizations’ coverage of the Pre-Synod included a number of live interviews with delegates.
Regarding the delegates’ experience of the Pre-Synod, a significant component proved to be the opportunity for engage with international perspectives and concerns. In a print interview with CNS, Brother Javier said that he had observed to his fellow delegates, “One of the characteristics of the American church is this extreme polarization between liberal and conservative Catholics, and I was surprised that one thing I found was that is more or less uniquely American.”
Brother Javier noted the end of the Gathering on March 25 with the post, “Our Pre-Synodal adventure concluded with the delegates walking in the Palm Sunday Mass procession with Pope Francis! This journey ends and Holy Week begins!”
Another Gathering is planned for 2019 in Panama.
The text has been reduced by Ilaria Iadeluca – Director of the Service of Communications and Technology of the Institute, Rome, Italy.