The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has organized, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the Conference “From Krakow to Panama. The Synod journeying with young people,” which will take place in Rome this week, from 5 to 9 April 2017, at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae. During this encounter, time will be dedicated to analyzing the Krakow WYD, and the organizing Committee preparing the 2019 WYD in Panama will report on its work.
Nearly 270 delegates from 103 countries and 44 movements, associations, and communities, are expected in Rome. There will be many young participants.
Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
FROM KRAKOW TO PANAMA
The Synod Journeying with Young People
Rome, 5-9 April 2017
4 April 2017
The Holy Father Francis, in the Letter to the young people that he wrote on the occasion of the publication of the Preparatory Document for the XV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the youth, recalled the most recent World Youth Day: "In Krakow, […] I asked you several times: 'Can we change things?' And you shouted: 'yes!' [...] 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."
To respond effectively to these words of the Holy Father and follow the path of the WYD, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has organized, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the Conference "From Krakow to Panama. The Synod on the way with young people," which will take place in Rome this week, from 5 to 9 April 2017, at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae. During this encounter, time will be dedicated to analyzing the Krakow WYD, and the organizing Committee preparing the 2019 WYD in Panama will report on its work.
Nearly 270 delegates from 103 countries and 44 movements, associations, and communities, are expected in Rome. There will be many young participants.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop emeritus of Krakow, will open the day dedicated to Krakow, while Msgr. José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, Archbishop of Panama, will coordinate the day dedicated to the presentation of the Panama WYD.
The novelty of this event is that two days will be dedicated to the presentation of the Preparatory Document of the next Synod of Bishops. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and Msgr. Fabio Fabene, Bishop Under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, will explain the Preparatory Document and the dynamics of the consultation in the local Churches to the youth ministry directors of the Episcopal Conferences and the young people present.
On the evening of Friday, 7 April, in the Sala Sinopoli of "Rome's Music Park," Gen Rosso & Gen Verde will give a concert to which hundreds of young people have been invited. The place was not chosen haphazardly: it is intended to be a "bridge" of dialogue and sharing for the young believers with all their peers.
Then, on Saturday, 8 April, all will gather in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for a prayer vigil in preparation for the Mass at World Youth Day, which both this year and next year will be celebrated at the diocesan level.
On Sunday, 9 April, all the delegates will participate in the celebration of World Youth Day to be held in St. Peter's Square, where Holy Mass presided by Pope Francis.
Even within the enclosed space of the convention center, where people—especially young people—from over one hundred countries around the world have gathered, there has been a surprise: delegates from the Bishops' Conference of North Africa to that of Zimbabwe, from 104 countries and 44 movements, groups and international associations of young Catholics have come to this event sponsored by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in Rome these days, to discuss the path from the World Youth Day in Krakow to the 2019 WYD in Panama, that will be marked by the Synod dedicated to the young people.
“On behalf of Pope Francis, I welcome you all to this meeting, which is of great importance for the life of the Church ... this is the first time that so many participants have come to this kind of gathering.” With these words, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Dicastery’s Prefect, greeted the 300 delegates, youth ministry agents, and young people gathered to share their collective wisdom and vast experience of working with young people accumulated in the thirty years of the World Youth Days, and put it at the service of the next Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated precisely to the young people.
This first day was consecrated to analyzing the 2016 WYD held in Krakow: this work is especially useful to Panamanians and to those, who will have the courage to organize the World Youth Days in the future, but it also provides an opportunity to consider the pastoral fruits of the event in Poland and throughout the world. The Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, opened the working session by focusing the attention on four points: 1) the WYD as an experience of the Church’s catholicity; 2) the WYD as an experience of Community and hope for a new world; 3) the WYD as an experience of a Church which “goes forth;” 4) the WYD as an experience of the commitment to a new evangelization.
#Krakow2Panama shows the young face of the Church
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Fr. Grzegorz Suchodolski, general secretary of the WYD Committee for 2016, and Fr. Emil Parfiniuk, head of the youth ministry in Poland, both emphasized in their speeches the importance of the long preparatory path and the personal involvement of young people, highlighting the collaboration of all 44 dioceses in helping the young Poles to rediscover their country’s spiritual wealth and, in the encounter with people from all over the world, the unity of faith in Christ, which were the keys to the success of the World Youth Day in Krakow.
The warm reception of the pilgrims, especially during the days they spent in the Polish dioceses, was underscored in most of the interventions by the delegates as one of the most pleasantly surprising aspects of this WYD. Great interest was aroused by the testimony of the delegate from Iraq—one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, severely persecuted today, but eager to be in Krakow because “being among young people from around the world is the best way to not feel abandoned to an incomprehensible destiny.” In many interventions, delegates from around the world—from South Korea to the small community in Albania, and from Uganda to the Dominican Republic—described their experience, the preparation process, and how the participation in the WYD has benefited their countries.
Msgr. Damian Muskus, Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, introduced the afternoon work, dedicated to the technical aspects and logistics, without forgetting that, as Pope Francis said to the volunteers at the meeting on the last day, “this day took shape as a result of much work but also many prayers.”
The day ended with Holy Mass, presided by Cardinal Farrell who, in his homily, emphasized that it is not enough to call ourselves Christians: the label is not enough, facts are needed and testimony. Young people will be convinced when we make the testimony we give them coincide with the Gospel’s message.
The word “Way” connects the path of the World Youth Days—a worldwide pilgrimage that began thirty years ago—with the Synod of Bishops; now, the word Synod means “walking together.” The theme of the 15th Assembly of the Synod will be “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Naturally, therefore, the two parties involved: youth ministers and youth delegates from all the continents, have come to meet at the event organized in Rome these days by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
The Secretary General of the Synod, Card. Lorenzo Baldisseri, introduced today’s work by telling about how, after a very wide consultation, Pope Francis chose the theme, explaining that the synod is not on young people (as subjects of study) or by youth (this is a Synod of Bishops), but it intends to involve young people and it is for the young people, whom the Pope calls, in the letter written on the occasion of the presentation of the preparatory document, to express and communicate their faith.
The document itself is only the beginning of a path of attentive listening to all the realities and of deep reflection; the results will be collected only at the end of the synodal itinerary.
An introduction to the preparatory document, presented last January, was presented by the Synod’s Secretary, Msgr. Fabio Fabene, who then followed the work throughout the day. “We also want to talk to those who are distant and indifferent—he said—showing them a Church that is caring for their present and their future. The young people involved in the church community must be missionaries and close to their peers through the forms and ways that you will propose to the dioceses of your countries.” Msgr. Fabene then described the methods of consultation and study that the Synod Fathers will use to get a better understanding of the situation of young people in the world, with the intention of involving young people, listening to them, and making them feel like real protagonists of the event.
Then the participants listened to a series presentations on national realities, with two round tables and many interventions of the delegates. A request came from the United States to present the preparatory document to young people in a creative way, including through the social media; in France, the theme chosen has been unanimously welcomed, and a number of diocesan initiatives were immediately launched, with the belief that collegiality is the form of the modern Church; in the Philippines, as early as March, local youth ministry leaders gathered for a a national meeting; for the Church in Australia, 2018 will be the year of the young; in Burundi, there are many challenges in the face of which expectations of a conscious, responsible, mature, and sincere faith are high. The Holy Land—which includes Israel, Jordan, and Palestine—the Catholics represent only 2% of the population, but they are very active and engaged in a creative ministry to bring young people to Christ “without taking possession of them;” finally, in Colombia, also a troubled and changing land, the Church is committed to responding to the problems of poverty, violence, and secularization.
#Krakow2Panama prof. Rosina introducing #Synod2018 Millennials: Connected, Confident, Open to Change, Collaboration Then time to listen to the young people
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In the afternoon, Mr. Alessandro Rosina, Professor of Demography and Statistics at the Catholic University of Milan and Synod consultant, presented the work done for the first part of the preparatory document, which concerns the analysis of the situation of young people today. Rosina emphasized in particular that “people are not young in the same way in all periods of history: the experience of being young today is unique and must be recognized as such. Furthermore, while the young share common traits throughout the world, there are also local features, and regions have their characteristics.” The Church—said Rosina—“must grow more attentive to the young and become a positive experience in their lives so that they may choose Her.” “We need audacious young people,” he continued, quoting Pope Francis, “who are aware that they are a value for the world.”
The delegates were then divided into working groups, according to their language areas, where they discussed in depth the themes suggested by the heads of the synod, to whom they will send a brief report. Holy Mass brought all the participants together at the end of the day, mindful, as Msgr. Fabene recalled in his homily, that “the encounter with Jesus is not the finish line, but the starting point for making their lives a gift.”
“Beauty will save the world” may seem to be a popular slogan or an excessively vast and abstract program: yet, it is a very concrete expression for the Jesuit Father Jean-Paul Hernandez, Swiss of Spanish origin, chaplain of the University La Sapienza in Rome, and founder of the group “Living Stones” that has the aim of proclaiming the Gospel through art. His task, at the meeting organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the Synod of Bishops in Rome, where youth delegates and youth ministers from over 100 countries of the world and 44 Catholic groups, movements and international associations are gathered these days, was to illustrate the second part of the preparatory document for the Synod dedicated to young people and entitled “Faith, discernment, vocation.”
Fr. Hernandez did this by telling about the details of Caravaggio’s famous painting “The Calling of St. Matthew,” which is conserved in the Church of St. Louis of France, in Rome. He helped the young people to feel the painter’s narrative and theological wisdom, in the account of how the call leads to a choice and conversion, without overlooking any details.
The reports of the working groups echoed his presentation: discernment is like an adventure, we do not know where it will lead, but we do know that God is the One who calls us and that this is important for setting out on the road. It is essential to dialogue and to listen to the young people, but it is also necessary to find the right language to use with them, just as Jesus did. Finally, the community dimension and giving space to young people are important, so that they may feel themselves at home in the Church.
The afternoon session began with a lecture by Father Fabio Attard, General Councilor for the Youth Ministry of the Salesian Congregation, who presented the third and final part of the preparatory document of the Synod dedicated to the pastoral dimension, which could easily be reduced to a purely operational reading but should be seen in a prophetic perspective: the aim is not to do things but propose processes and dynamics. Fr. Attard’s synthesis was strongly focused on Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Walking with the young people, said Fr. Attard, requires empathy and the spirit of communion: it is, in fact, a process, there is no goal defined at the outset, no one knows if or when they will arrive; the only thing we know is that were on the way and that this path requires courage, including the courage to change. As Pope Benedict XVI said: “God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change.”
According to Fr. Attard, Evangelii Gaudium is “bread for the journey of the pastoral workers.”
#Krakow2Panama Let's listen to young people
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This part of the document was also discussed in depth by the delegates’ working groups. In their reports, they told about their experiences, reflections, and made work proposals.
In the evening, the young delegates from around the world went to the Auditorium of the Parco della Musica, where they listened to a concert offered by the group Gen Verde & Gen Rosso, music with a strong charge and energy help them face the last day of work, which will be dedicated to preparing the 2019World Youth Day in Panama.
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