By Jesvita Princy Quadras
Mangalore, July 11, 2019: The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life organized it’s 11th International youth forum – a Post-Synodal meet June 17-22, Rome.
More than 350 young people from more than 100 countries participated and deliberated on how the synod on youth has been impacting in their respective countries, dioceses or even parishes. I along with Becaremeo Nongtdu form North East were selected by the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI) Youth Commission to represent our country at the forum.
Percival Holt who had earlier participated in the Pre-Synod as a participant and at the Synod as an auditor from India also accompanied us as an invitee. The very term Synod itself had created a lot of notion when Holt had spread the word regarding the many keynote issues addressed related to the youth. However, when I too realized that I would get to be a part of this journey I was definitely a little overwhelmed all the more eager to join in.
The forum was divided into a three-day discussion on three matters which was discussed in 18 groups divided based on the languages. On day one, the impact of the synod at the grass-root level was discussed.
Day two, was for the groups to discuss on the Christus Vivit (Christis alive) and the learnings that one has drawn from it and day three was for the groups to discuss on what the forum will carry back home
after being actively part of the deliberations during the meet.
Many revelations were again brought to light. However, during the reporting of the groups, the points that were highlighted were that the impact of the Synod did not really reach the grass-root level.
Many also stated that Christus Vivit was not available to them due to the financial or the language barrier. If this was the case in many countries, some including India had many positive points to discuss when it came to the impact of the synod or the system of Youth ministry in India.
I was personally awed to know that many were inspired during my discourse in the group. They not only admired but also inquired as to how to go about the same system or where to start off at least. This was a loud wake-up call for me.
All these years living in my cocoon not really knowing the realities of the outer world, I complained that in India it is difficult for us to go about programs due to financial constraints or unavailability of resources or even the lack of support from the elders or the youth themselves.
Hailing from a diocese which has over 15000 youth who are active participants in the church itself seemed like a blessing. Here,
therefore, I could proudly acclaim that the youth ministry in India surely is blessed.
Moving on to my personal learnings or inspiration that I carried back home- well I do not think this article would suffice to put in all of that. But I will mention a few key points that truly touched me and made me think in a different dimension altogether. One of the Cardinals shared how during his conversation with the Pope he mentioned that the youth are an important aspect of the Church.
Here, Pope Francis corrected him saying that they are not an important aspect of the church but the Youth are the Church. This statement itself enlightened me about the level of acceptance extended towardsus young people. We are called to be the Protagonists today. Those to discern and lead and live the vocation we are called to follow.
The next inspiration I drew were the words of Fr. Giacomo Costa, special secretary at the synod on youth. While giving his address he said “Young people live many Experiences. And they learn from them to become better.”
You may not find anything special about it but for some reason, it created a small spark within me. I have heard such statements before but why this touched me so deeply was because Fr. Giacomo substituted the term ‘Mistakes’ with ‘Experiences.’
I simply marveled at the fact that they are not just trying but are genuinely accepting us and walking with us together to help us stay connected to our roots – the Church! Such a positive outlook towards us young people is one the major reasons why I today would like to contribute in my little way.
When there were discussions on Christus Vivit a young person stated that it is a love letter by the pope to the youth whereas another stated that it not just a book to be read and taken inspiration frombut it is an experience in itself! One of the best things that I learned from is the last paragraph of the book. It is actually a wish that the Pope is asking of the young people. He is asking us to make the run as the Holy Spirit is accompanying us. Once we reach the point
where we feel we have succeeded, he asks us to wait for ‘them’; to wait in patience till ‘they’ reach the point where we have already reached.
Pope acknowledges that accompaniment is needed but also important isthe factor of us Young People becoming the Protagonists in this
journey. Just as how our YOUNG JESUS led the way and accomplished, we too are expected to be the journey and live it in the values imbibed in us through Christ.
Accompaniment is not just something that can be fulfilled by just the young or just by the elders of the Church. But both of us together, because journeying together will not just give us joy but hope too.
And therefore, it is the Co responsibility of all of us, together to ‘think big and start small.’
Synodal journey had begun long ago. But it is impact may take some time. And, therefore we need to wait in patience while acting towards it too. As for me, I believe my contribution, in whatever amount it maybe will help me personally and socially to embrace the spiritual and intellectual factor that lies beneath.
Wherever I go, I will surely not forget to add on my pinch of experience on my learning and try and implement it in my actions too.
We definitely cannot deny the fact that the Synod has its deep-rooted impact on us here in India; maybe in different capacities. But it has! And that is where each of us young people, must be grateful for the support the church renders us in our country not to forget the acceptance and the opportunity it extends, just to try and make us the Church, Young again or vice versa.
Oh yes. Not to forget. I met the Pope too! And my little conversation with him also made me realise this: “When you and I are willing to take and walk the journey, God somewhere-somehow is preparing a surprise just for you. And it is a blessing in disguise! Truly.”
(Jesvita Princy Quadras is National Coordinator and former national president, YCS YS India).