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Connecting the General Synod & Year of Youth

In recent months the work of the Holy Spirit has been unveiled to us in Australia. With the announcement of Pope Francis’ General Synod theme in October, and then the pastoral announcement of the Year of Youth in December, the Church is being called to look seriously and in depth at how it engages with and accompanies young people in Australia.

It is clear these are not separate initiatives and can easily intertwine moving forward.

Contacts and Committees
In response to the Synod, the Australian Bishops have encouraged diocese to identify a Diocesan Synod contact person and where possible establish a local Synod committee to help reach out and collate the report by August. Further, contacts have been supplied with simple resources to respond comprehensively to the Synod, including a list of organisations and areas in which to seek out young people on the peripheries.

Reflection: In what ways can these contacts, committees and reports form the basis of the local Church’s response to the Year of Youth, starting in December 2017?

General Synod process: Working toward the goals of the Year of Youth
The Goals for the Australian Bishops Year of Youth are:
prayerfully discern the Australian Bishops vision for ministry with young people, Anointed and Sent
authentic and personal engagement by Church leaders in the challenges and success in young people’s lives
acknowledging the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of young people, and young people acting upon the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church;
upholding the dignity of young people, ensuring a safe environment from physical, emotional and spiritual harm
When reflecting locally on the General Synod, these goals should not be far from our minds. They are linked to the Synod and whether it be prayer, listening, or reflection, we must be mindful of our long term goals of engagement and accompaniment.

Reflection: How are you praying for and spiritually reflecting upon the call of the Holy Spirit to accompany young people? How are you utilising the General Synod process to authentically listen and engage in the ‘challenges and success in young people’s lives’? How are you reaching out to young people beyond your local community and on the peripheries? How is the Holy Spirit working in the lives of young people and how is it challenging our Church to grow? In what ways do we need to work harder and respond to ensure the holistic safety of all young people?

General Synod: a starting place for the Year of Youth
The General Synod process provides a solid foundation to the Australian Bishops ‘Year of Youth’. In October, diocese and many local communities will have a collation of feedback and considerations on local engagement and the voices of young people. This provides an excellent starting point for responding to the Year of Youth.

Reflection: How do your local experiences and insights from reports challenge you to
‘Open new Horizons for Spreading Joy’?

General Synod & Year of Youth: local, Diocesan, Universal
There are some questions about who engages with what elements of the General Synod and the Year of Youth. Is the report simply a diocesan responsibility? Will we be told how to respond to either or both? Will it make a difference anyway?

In all cases the responsibility is shared and must be taken on by all if it is going to make a difference.

The Catholic Church is the People of God, it is your local community. The questions of the Synod, the goals of the Year of Youth, any engagement, listing or accompaniment; if it’s not happening where you are stationed, then it is not happening.

The General Synod and the Year of Youth are not an imposition, they are an invitation and an opportunity. They are a chance for you and your local church to make a difference. If we focus on what’s in it for young people, rather than for ourselves, we work in partnership with the Holy Spirit towards God’s plan, not our own.