The most recent Synod of Bishops, held at the Vatican in October 2018 with over 350 delegates including bishops, young adults, experts, and organizational representatives, focused on the topic of “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”
The U.S. Bishops have designated the National Dialogue as one of the key means of implementing and carrying out the lessons and learnings of the 2018 Synod in the United States. Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, one of the Synod Fathers, said to his brother bishops at the USCCB General Assembly in November 2018:
We are being invited by the Synod to prepare how best to respond to its recommendations… You and I, each of us, must prepare to implement its recommendation for our own unique dioceses. This may require that we find way to engage our own young people, perhaps in special assemblies, perhaps in a unique diocesan synod… to continue the Synod’s work… The National Dialogue on Catholic Pastoral Ministry with Youth and Young adults and the follow-up to the Fifth Encuentro are wonderful models of engagement…”
Some of the key findings from the Synod included a call for the Church to listen and dialogue with young people (both active and disaffiliated from the faith), families, and leaders, to engage in a process of “synodality” – bringing people together, discerning in collaboration, and developing actionable steps forward. The National Dialogue is ready to do all of that.
The National Dialogue can help with Synod implementation in the following ways:
If a parish or diocese wants to hold their own local Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, the National Dialogue’s conversation guides can be the template for the Synod or special assembly.
The National Leadership Network is comprised of organizations which can offer best practices and actionable steps. Connecting with those groups can be a great resource for local communities looking for new ideas.
The National Dialogue was a model of bringing different perspectives around the table to engage young people on the national level. Can this be a model to use on the local level, to bring ministries, groups, and movements together for a common goal?
The global Synod process (and the research and documentation) can also be a great resource for ministries, parishes, campuses, dioceses, movements, communities, and organizations. While much of the materials from the Synod are addressed to the international community, the core principles and ideas are universal – and can find local application.
These resources include:
· Vatican Synod Web Page: http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en.html
· United States Synod Web Page: www.usccb.org/synod-2018
· Synod Preparatory Document (January 2017): http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/fede-discernimento-vocazione/preparatory-document1.html
· Pre-Synod Summary Document (March 2018): http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/news/final-document-from-the-pre-synodal-meeting.html
· Instrumentum Laboris / Working Document (June 2018): http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/fede-discernimento-vocazione/instrumentum-laboris-for-the-synod-2018--young-people--the-faith.html
· Final Synod Document (Oct. 2018) [NOTE: Italian version now available; English and Spanish versions coming soon]: http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/news/final-document-from-the-pre-synodal-meeting.html
· Pope Francis’ forthcoming Apostolic Exhortation (coming soon)
For more information about the implementation of the 2018 Synod in the United States, and the connection of the implementation with the work of the National Dialogue, contact Paul Jarzembowski, key staff for youth and young adult ministries in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, DC, by calling 202-541-3229 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.