On the day Pope Francis launched the Preparatory Document of the Synod of Bishops, he said to the young people, in the words of St. Benedict, “The Church 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 of souls.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

After four weeks of deliberation and encounter with and about the young people from October 3 to 28, it is clear that these words did play out in real life.

This testimony from 27-year-old Briana Santiago from Texas points to the fact.

 “We young people desire to dialogue, authenticity, participation…and there at the synod, we found ourselves greeted by adults who were willing and desirous to know what we carry in our hearts.”

“We realize that there are many needs in the world – many topics that require reflection and dialogue – and so we are even more grateful that the Church, at this very moment in History, is turning Her attention towards young people and our concerns.”

Hours before the closing of the synod, the 35 young participants wrote a letter of gratitude to the Holy Father thanking him for the opportunity to be heard and also promising their prayers and support for him.

“Dear Pope Francis, we young people, present at the synod, want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude and joy for the fact that you gave us the space to make together this small bit of history,” the young people wrote in the letter. “New ideas need space, and you have allowed for it.”

“We want to affirm that we share your dream: an outgoing Church, open to all, especially the weakest, a field hospital Church.”, they said,“We are already an active part of this Church and we want to continue to make a concrete commitment to improving our cities and schools, and the social and political world and working environments, by spreading a culture of peace and solidarity and by putting the poor at the centre, in whom Jesus himself is recognized.”

National President of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement, Percival Holt, rightly noted during his intervention at the synod that “Youth is like fire. We flame, we bring light, give warmth but are also under the threat of getting extinguished. Today we are flickering, we may either blow off into the darkness or blow up into wildfire to burn down everything. The church needs to kindle these sparks into the right flames”.

Those words of gratitude and commitment from the young people to the Pope are a sign of a re-energized youth,  who are ready to fan into the right flame, their gifts, talents and energies, to take on the responsibility of keeping the fire aflame even for the generations after them.

With this excitement and vibrancy, the synod meeting of the Bishops on the youth in Rome came to an end. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Final Document of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops consisting of 3 parts, 12 chapters, 167 paragraphs and 60 pages was approved in the Synod Hall.

The text was received with applause, Cardinal da Rocha said. It is “the result of real teamwork” on the part of the Synod Fathers, together with other Synod participants and “the young people in a particular way”.

The inspiration for the Final Document for the Synod on Youth is the episode of the disciples of Emmaus, recounted by the evangelist Luke. It was read in the Synod Hall by the Rapporteur General, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, by the Special Secretaries, Fr Giacomo Costa and Fr Rossano Sala, together with Bishop Bruno Forte, a member of the Commission for the drafting of the text. It is complementary to the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod and follows the three-part subdivision.

Brother Alois, Prior of the Ecumenical Community of Taizé notes that the Synod in Rome may have ended, it still continues in many other ways and places.

“The Synod is not finished: it will continue with meetings in different countries, in the different bishops’ conferences, also with young people, taking the Final Document and working together to make sure the Church has the means and the tools to accompany young people more closely. We pray the Holy Spirit for that” he said.

ACN Malta