Pre-Synod on Youth Reflection by Nicole Perone
'Pre-Synod on Youth' Reflection
By Nicole Perone
Nearly a week after my return from Rome, I find myself still processing everything that occurred while there. After a week of long days and late nights, the 300 delegates gathered from every corner of the globe produced a document which is clear and incisive while infused with hope. The experience of connecting to the global Church, whether it was in formalized writing of responses or discussions over a multi-course meal and a glass of wine, opened my eyes to both the variety of experiences and also the common threads which unify young people. The week was full of such rich experiences. (Of course, I would be remiss without mentioning the opportunity to meet our Holy Father, Pope Francis!)
Initially, I found the process to be a bit formulaic, following a structure set by the moderators. While many steps were necessary (such as collating answers and feedback from every language group, to ensure that all voices were heard), others merited some expedition on the part of the actual participants. For me, a major pivot point of the whole process was when we in the writing group really took ownership of the time spent reading the delegates’ comments, writing, and editing. I was especially moved by the wave of comments asking for more to be added about the role of women in the Church! The best feedback from that draft was that so many attendees could “see themselves” - their experiences, joys, struggles, and hopes - in the document. It was so striking to be on stage as a writing committee, a unit presenting our work and individually greeting Cardinal Baldisseri as our words echoed in the plenary hall.
What is important to note is that the final Pre-Synodal document was never meant to be a “how-to guide” for the Synod Fathers, but rather to present the facts to them as one of many tools in their proverbial toolkit. To that end, my hope for the Synod of Bishops is that the Synod Fathers read well the instrumentum laboris, especially the Pre-Synodal document, and take to heart what is written therein, especially what was named clearly in terms of the role of women. I pray that the seeds which have been sown in the document take root in the hearts of the Synod Fathers and bear good fruit in dioceses around the world.
In the final analysis, the most extraordinary part of the Pre-Synodal meeting was not necessarily an outcome, but the fact that it occurred at all. For the Vatican to invite the topics of the conversation to be protagonists of that conversation was certainly noteworthy, if not historic. I pray that that Spirit-driven energy will infuse every corner of the Synodal process, and the Church will continue on its journey toward fullness as “a transparent, welcoming, honest, inviting, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community.”
Nicole M. Perone
Archdiocesan Director of Adult Faith Formation
Office of Education, Evangelization and Catechesis
Archdiocese of Hartford