– Journeying with youth in a synodal Church
From The Office of Youth Ministry
On February 5, 2022, the Office of Youth Ministry held its quarterly stakeholders’ meeting for the Catholic Youth Commission with an action-packed morning of Youth and Synod.
Two events captured the day. One was a panel discussion involving Dr Deborah McFee and Dr Henry Charles, moderated by Darrion Narine (CN, February 13).
The other was a session on deep listening, by Jamaican Sr Rose Chang OSM. For these videos plus more visit the Youth Commission’s YouTube page at ‘Catholic Youth Trinidad and Tobago’.
Sr Rose defined a synodal Church, according to Pope Francis, as “The disciples of Jesus Christ, journeying together, led and guided by the Holy Spirit into the future.”
She then went into great detail to unpack this definition to help all who attended to truly understand what it means to be a synodal Church. For Sr Rose, to be a disciple of Christ means to be a person who is part of a greater whole, a community united by a common focus, common life, and common beliefs and goals.
The members of this community journey together as companions, grounded in the Eucharist, led by the Holy Spirit every step of the way in this faith journey into the mission to which they have been called, i.e., the mission of spreading the Good News.
Fundamental to this journey is the necessity of listening deeply. Why should the Church listen? The Church should listen because it is the Body of Christ. It is Christ’s presence in the world today! And who builds up this Church? Every baptised person throughout history builds up our Church.
Therefore, we must all listen to one another in order to move forward as a people. None of us is above listening to what another member has to say. If anything, those in leadership positions must be more ready to listen to those whom they help to lead.
Sr Rose said that the Christian identity is one of love and because of that, “we need to listen so we can understand and recapture the quality of our relationships.”
Listening isn’t the only thing we need to do, since ultimately, effective communication with one another is what will help us live out our Christian call. The way in which we communicate has the power to build up or to break down our community. Nonetheless, for every one of us, the first step in this communication process is to be able to listen.
Sr Rose proposed that to listen means to hear, understand, interpret, receive, and accept. Only then can feedback follow. When we truly listen, we receive information that stretches us. That information can fill our hearts.
On the other hand, that information can also make us uncomfortable. However, God calls us to listen not because it is easy, but because it is an act of love. When we listen, we communicate respect; we affirm that someone matters. Through this listening, we inevitably discover the goodness in others, the very same goodness that comes from God.
With all this in mind, what is it that our youth is saying to the Church today?
Do we really know our youth, or do we simply believe that we do?
Do we really listen to our youth, or are they token pieces on a dead-end path? Our youth have a lot to say, if only we would listen.
During this Synod 2021–2023, let us make sure to deeply listen to what our youth have to say. May we allow and help them to create spaces to speak to us, lest we risk losing them altogether.
They are the ones in whom we have to entrust our beloved Church.
Sr Rose reminded of some good listening skills:
She also warned about some poor listening skills: