PHILADELPHIA — In an effort to highlight the voices of young people ahead of the Synod on Youth this fall, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is periodically offering his column space in the diocesan newspaper to young adults over the next four months.
“With a synod of the world’s bishops focusing on young people scheduled for this October, hearing directly from the young and those engaged in guiding them can be a great resource,” he wrote.
At the 2018 synod, bishops from around the world will meet to discuss the theme, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
In preparation for the gathering, the Vatican sent out a survey asking young people around the world about their experiences and beliefs. In March, 315 young adults were invited to the Vatican for a pre-synod gathering. They released a document summarizing their discussions at the end of the meeting.
Since Archbishop Chaput decided to open his column to young adults earlier this month, he has shared the comments of two young people: Regina Luczyszyn, a 26-year-old graduate from Temple University Law School who is currently engaged, and Brother Bryan Kerns, a 29-year-old seminarian who will be ordained this summer.
Last week, Luczyszyn reflected on the need for young adults to be accompanied by faithful mentors. In a world marked by confusion, she said, many people bear wounds from a damaged past, so guides are necessary to help navigate the way.
“Finding Christ in the darkness isn’t always an easy journey,” she said. “Christ gave us the answer by showing us the importance of mentorship and discipleship — a model the Church needs to revive if she expects young adults to follow Christ.”
She highlighted chastity as one issue in which mentorship would be helpful, particularly in guiding questions during dating about appropriate boundaries and ways to express love in virtue.
Luczyszyn suggested that priests, religious and laity can all be mentors to help navigate young adults through these trails. Just as Christ spent three years forming his disciples, she said the Church must accompany her members by “strengthening them, loving them and teaching them.”
This week, Brother Kerns reflected on the Church’s need for strong witnesses, leading the Church toward the value of silence and rest. When the world is overwhelmed by noise, he said, people are unable to truly know themselves.
“The world is drowning in noise, the young in particular. And the noise is not the worst problem; it’s a symptom of our failure to understand our nature. We use noise as an antidote to our restlessness, when what we really need is rest.”
He said the Church needs to evaluate how young adults can be encouraged to make room for silence in their lives to face the burdens of this world and rely on the Church for silent strength. Brother Kern said the answer is not another document or program — although those things may be helpful — but witnesses willing to lead by example.
“Our world, our Church, and especially our young people, need witnesses: witnesses who prove irrefutably, through their words and actions, that Jesus Christ dwells with quiet fire in their hearts.”