2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People

Pope Francis has dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be focused on the theme of “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” It will be held in Rome in October 2018. The U.S. bishops have selected the young adult delegates who will represent the country at a pre-synod gathering which will take place in Rome this March.

The chosen delegates are: Brother Javier Hansen, FSC, a LaSallian Brother who teaches religion at Cathedral High School-El Paso, Texas; Nick López, a single young adult who is the director of campus ministry for the University of Dallas and a guest columnist for the Catholic News Service; and Katie Prejean McGrady, a wife, new mother, youth minister, and speaker from the Diocese of Lake Charles in Louisiana.

Typically, the bishops gather pre-synod data from questionnaires sent out to episcopal conferences, but this year the bishops are also including this pre-synod gathering as well as the pre-synod youth survey, which was available online last year.

While the survey is closed now, young people should to continue offering their perspectives and follow along with the pre-synod gathering as well as the synod by following @Synod2018 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

What is a synod?

The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council, to continue the spirit of collegiality and communion that was present at the Council. The Synod is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Holy Father by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church in a manner that preserves the Church’s teaching and strengthens her internal discipline. (see the Vatican website and Code of Canon Law, canon 342)

What is the purpose of Synod 2018?

The Preparatory Document describes the purpose of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly as an opportunity for the Church “to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective way to announce the Good News today.”

Who are you the “young people” of the Church?

Although the United States defines “youth” as ages 12-18 and “young adult” as ages 18-39, the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will focus on ages 16-29, as defined in the Preparatory Document. The Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment will be aimed at this particular age group and their pastoral needs.

What does "vocation" mean in the context of this Synod?

The Synod Preparatory Document speaks of the “vocation to love,” which “takes concrete form in everyday life through a series of choices, which find expression in the states of life (marriage, ordained ministry, consecrated life, etc.), professions, forms of social and civil commitment, lifestyle, the management of time and money, etc.” In other words, the concept of “vocation” in this context is very broad. So when speaking of the states of life and the vocational journey of young people towards them, the U.S. bishops understand “vocation” to mean the pathway to marriage, ordained ministry, and consecrated life.