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Was the pre-synodal meeting useful?

Omnes-May 1, 2018-Reading time: 3 minutes

The author, a Mexican participant in the pre-synodal youth meeting in Rome, evaluates the meeting and reflects on the impetus received.

Text - Roberto Vera, participant in the pre-synodal youth assembly

Only a few weeks have passed since the conclusion of the presynod for young people in Rome, in which I had the good fortune to participate as a representative of the students of the Pontifical Universities. The most visible fruit of those intense days, in which a little more than three hundred young people from all over the world were engaged in dialogue and work, is the so-called "Final Document of the presynodal meeting". The fifteen pages of this text contain the most salient points of the conversations we held in Rome between March 19 and 24, and those of us who contributed to its drafting are excited that it will become one of the fundamental bases for the work of the bishops during the assembly convened for next October.

But I am convinced that the final document is only a small part of the fruits of the presynod. Many of us young people who coincided in Rome are still in touch, mainly through WhatsApp, and so we have learned of other positive consequences of our work around the world. Several of the participants, for example, have shared with the bishops of their dioceses what we talked about and experienced at the pre-synodal meeting and this has led the pastors to consider concrete actions to better serve the young people in their local churches. Other young people have had the opportunity to address pastoral commissions, constituted at different levels, and, after their interventions, the decision has been taken to study ways of making young people protagonists of pastoral action and ways of reducing the distance between the local hierarchy and young people. In several countries, sessions are also being organized with young people to inform them about the presynod and activities similar to the meeting in which we participated.

There is no doubt that other fruits of the days in Rome are maturing within each of the participants. The time that has passed since Palm Sunday, when the final document was placed in the hands of Pope Francis, has only confirmed an intuition I had during the course of the presynod: I have lived an experience that has marked me forever. Undoubtedly what impressed me most deeply was being able to speak with young people from different countries and, in this way, get to know the realities that fill them with enthusiasm and those that cause them concern, the stories of their vocations, their commitment to the Church, their desire to change the world... Many of these conversations have enriched me and changed my vision of reality. I had the opportunity to deal with people who participated in the meeting representing their local Churches, the seminarians of their countries, their religious families, communities, movements or associations; there were also people dedicated to formation and experts in different areas (youth ministry, pedagogy, psychology, sociology, etc.). I was able to speak with young non-Catholics, non-Christians and non-believers: I learned from each one and sincerely appreciated their participation in the meeting.

The meeting with Pope Francis, with whom the presynod began, was one of the most special moments. His closeness and simplicity impressed us very much. The Holy Father encouraged us to listen to others and to speak courageously, without fear of disturbing or making mistakes. And that was precisely what we participants tried to do during the moments of work in linguistic groups.

As a Mexican, I was part of one of the four Spanish-speaking groups: we were eighteen people from fourteen different countries and with diverse life experiences: some worked in diocesan pastoral work, others were involved in the lives of their parishes and others represented movements or seminarians or religious. In the large spaces of dialogue that we had, we all participated and exchanged ways of seeing things, problems, difficulties, experiences and proposals. I think we were all greatly enriched. Moreover, in a natural way, a great friendship has arisen among us.

One of the ideas that I believe is shared by all the participants in the presynod, and which is included in the final document, is the importance of this type of meeting for the life of the Church: we hope that there will be many similar experiences at various levels (universal, national and local) aimed at listening to the voice of the recipients of pastoral actions, favoring dialogue among them.

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