Even as the bishops attending this month’s Youth Synod in Rome strive mightily to demonstrate that they hear the wishes and concerns of young people, I was surprised when a Catholic college student told me that he doesn’t much care if the Church listens to him. 

Isaac Cross first heard about the Youth Synod when he was asked to participate in the preparatory survey. One of the opening questions has stuck with him: “As a young person, do you feel that the Church listens to you?”

Isaac didn’t like the question.

“What really matters is if I listen to the Church and learn from its wisdom,” he told me. “The Church is built upon thousands of years of tradition and doctrine, and I have especially found at college how striving to understand that doctrine of the Church is a vital means of strengthening [one’s] faith.”

Isaac is a student at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, which is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity. So he’s serious about the Faith and his need for authentic Catholic education.

“Saint John Paul II always called upon the youth to lead the charge of evangelization, but many bishops and priests misinterpreted that idea and started to look toward the youth for guidance in forming the traditions and liturgy of the Church,” Isaac said. “Young Catholics have vitality, which is what St. John Paul saw as so important for spreading the faith, but being young myself, I can tell you we do not have wisdom.”

Providing youth with an education and formation in the truths of the Church is so important, especially given the scandals facing the Church today.

“Without understanding the true foundations of the faith and recognizing the divine source of Catholicism, many young men and women will not be able to distinguish between the corrupt men in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the Church itself,” he said. 

Thousands of young people who attend faithfully Catholic colleges across the country are being formed in the truths of the Faith. In my experience, many of them share Isaac’s humility and fidelity. They know that they don’t have all the answers, and they look to the Church to teach them.

It may be helpful to the Synod fathers to know what young people are thinking. But it’s far more important that young people know what the Church is teaching. We all need some of whatever Isaac is getting at his faithful Catholic college.

Kelly Salomon is director of Newman Guide programs for The Cardinal Newman Society.