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Synod of Bishops: “Young people, faith, and vocational discernment”

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ROME, Italy. 
On January 13, Pope Francis made known a letter to young people announcing the convening of the Synod of Bishops on the theme "Young people, the faith and vocational discernment," to be held in October 2018. On the same day, the preparatory document was presented. The Teresian Association (TA) receives this initiative as an "invitation as an urgent and joyful call".

The Governing Council of the Teresian Association has addressed those responsible for the demarcations of the Primary Association and the various Cooperating Associations (ACIT) "to encourage and support the participation of th Teresian Association in the preparation and celebration of the Synod," with the desire to involve the Youth Movements (TA Youth, MIT Giovani, MIT, etc.), educational centers, colleges, university residences, and other projects that attract young people.

In its communication with the Association, the Governing Council points out that "the modes of participation will be diverse, but it is an international call to respond and an opportunity that we cannot miss." And they ask "that you study in each local context (diocesan or episcopal conference) what the most appropriate and timely way of participation will be. We are sure that together with others and in dialogue, following synodal guidelines, we will seek and find ways of life and faith in the accompaniment of young people. This is a responsibility for the future and responding to this invitation is an urgent and joyful call."

They also inform that Emilia Paniagua (sector of Our Lady of Covadonga) and Marina Sampayo (ACIT Joven, Barcelona) will attend a meeting convened by the Youth Office of the Dicastery for the laity, family and life, which will take place in the Holy See from April 5-9, 2017. This international meeting has as its theme “From Krakow to Panama. The Synod on the way with young people.”

Pope Francis’ letter and preparatory document 

“I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: ‘Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.’ I wanted you to be the center of attention, because you are in my heart,” writes the Pope in his letter to young people.

In another paragraph, he says: “A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

In the morning of January 13, in the Holy See Press Office, a conference was held for the presentation of the preparatory document for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, mentioned by the Pope in his Letter to Young People. The press conference was attended by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Bishop Fabio Fabene, respectively Secretary General and Under-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and young people.

“With his words, Cardinal Baldisseri explained, the Pope wishes to provide a three-dimensional human and ecclesial motivation for the next Synod on youth, ranging from 16 to 29 years of age, aware that youth needs to be adapted to different local circumstances, as shown by the Preparatory Document.”

 “The document is divided into three parts. The first urges listening to reality. The second highlights the importance of discernment in the light of faith to make life choices that truly correspond to the will of God and to the good of the person. The third focuses on the pastoral action of the ecclesial community. The evangelical image of the ‘beloved disciple’ introduces the three parts as a brief presentation of the journey.”

“The first chapter, entitled ‘Young people in today’s world’, provides useful elements for contextualizing the situation of the young in today’s world, considering that the outline provided needs to be adapted to the specific circumstances of each region. The second chapter, the heart of the document, is entitled ‘Faith, discernment, vocation’. … This path is inspired by the three verbs already used in Evangelii Gaudium, 51: recognizing (what happens in our inner world), interpreting (what is recognized) and choosing (as the ‘exercise of authentic human freedom and personal responsibility’). It should be clarified that the term ‘vocation’ is to be understood in a broad sense, and relates to the vast range of possibilities of realizing one’s like in the joy of love and in the fullness deriving from the gift of oneself to God and to others. It is about finding the concrete form in which this full realization can take place, ‘through a series of choices, which find expression in the states of life (marriage, ordained ministry, consecrated life, etc.), professions, forms of social and civil commitment, lifestyle, the management of time and money, etc.’. The third chapter, entitled ‘Pastoral Action’, emphasizes the importance for the Church of accompanying young people in welcoming the joy of the Gospel, ‘especially in these times of uncertainty, volatility and insecurity’”.

“Attention is focused on people, places and the tools for this accompaniment. The subjects of pastoral action are the young themselves, both as protagonists and as receivers. The Church asks them to ‘help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today’. The places of pastoral action are daily life, activities for the young, the World Youth Days, diocesan events, parishes, oratories, universities, Catholic schools, voluntary work, social activities, centers of spirituality, missionary experiences, pilgrimages, and popular piety. The text also touches on the digital world, which opens up unprecedented opportunities, but also new dangers. The tools are languages (favoring the most expressive for the young), education, prayer, silence and contemplation”.

“The Questionnaire which follows is an integral part of the document, rather than a simple appendix. This too is divided into three parts. The first relates to the gathering of statistical data. The second is composed of questions. The novelty is constituted by the fact that, along with the general questions proposed to everyone indiscriminately (fifteen in number), there are three specific questions for each geographical area, to which a response is requested only for those who belong to the specified continent. The third part relates to the sharing of practices, according to methods that are clearly expressed. The aim of this third part, also a novelty, is to enrich all the Church by bringing awareness of experiences, often of great interest, that take place in the different regions of the world, so that they may be of help to all”.

“The elements that emerge from the answers will serve for the drafting of the Instrumentum Laboris, the document handed to the Synod fathers prior to the Assembly”, concluded Cardinal Baldisseri.

Pope Francis' Letter to Young People, January 13, 2017

Document for the XV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: "Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment"

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