Archdiocese Holds First-Ever Young Adult Ministry Symposium in Response to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit More than 60 gather in Greater Washington, DC, to discuss church life and faith practice in the armed forces

Archbishop Timothy Broglio (center) at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Arlington, VA, on Jan. 21, 2022, with participants in the Young Adult Ministry Symposium sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

CRYSTAL CITY, VA — More than 60 U.S. Military-affiliated Catholic young adults, priests, chaplains, pastoral leaders, and support staff are gathered in Crystal City, VA, this weekend for the first-ever, in-person Young Adult Ministry Symposium sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). The Jan. 20-23 forum at the Hilton Crystal City at Reagan National Airport comes in response to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Christus Vivit (“Christ is Alive”). The exhortation, issued after the Oct. 3-28, 2018 Plenary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops—or “gathering” of church leaders—on Young People, calls on local Churches  worldwide to bring the young together to consider fresh ways the Church can accompany them on their spiritual journey. The gathering also takes place in the context of a world-wide reflection on the riches of  the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council in the preparatory phase (2021-2023) for the next Plenary Assembly of  the Synod of Bishops, which has the theme of Synodality. Pope Francis is calling on the faithful to exchange views on all aspects of Church life according to the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” The two-year listening-and-learning process will culminate in an October 2023 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The AMS Young Adult Ministry Symposium is being led by Ms. Casey Lee, Associate Director of Young Adult Ministry, and is designed mainly for military adults between the ages of 18 and 39. “The Holy Father emphasizes that young people are both agents and recipients in this mission,” Ms. Lee said. “That is why symposium participants are coming to Crystal City—to discuss the pressing issues related to the lives of military Catholic young adults. The symposium invites all participants to listen and share their voices on topics relating to the faith.” Those topics, including how to evangelize and become more effective disciples of Christ, will be explored in plenary and breakout sessions throughout the four-day symposium. Participants will also walk in the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 21. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, will take part in the full weekend schedule of dialogue, prayer, celebration of Holy Mass, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and he will walk in the March for Life.

Registered for the symposium are more than three dozen active-duty U.S. servicemen and women and spouses including 17 from the Navy, 16 from the Air Force, nine from the Army, and one from the Coast Guard. The participants are based at military installations throughout the United States and Germany, including Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Joint Base (JB) Anacostia-Bolling, Dover AFB, Maxwell-Gunter AFB, Columbus AFB, Langley AFB, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Davis-Monthan AFB, Luke AFB, Travis AFB, Fort Leonard Wood, Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, Germany, Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, JB Lewis McChord, Joint Force Commander (JFC)-Brunssum, Fort Stewart, Tower Barracks, Germany, Navy Region Southeast (NRSE) Chaplain Student Unit aboard COMNAVCRUITCOM, Millington, TN, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), Naval Station Rota, the U.S. Naval Academy, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), the White House Military Office, JB Charleston, Naval Medical Center San Diego, and Naval Station Mayport.

The AMS Young Adult Ministry Symposium was originally scheduled for August of 2020 but had to be rescheduled twice due to concern about the spread of COVID-19. In the meantime, the AMS conducted several webinars for military-affiliated young adults in preparation for the event now finally underway in Crystal City. “Those webinars set the framework for the Symposium,” Ms. Lee said, “and enabled many military young adults to participate who otherwise would not be able to attend an in-person gathering due to deployment location or an overseas assignment.”