Watch Cardinal DiNardo's presentation on the 2018 Synod during the November 2017 USCCB General Assembly in Baltimore, MD or read his remarks.
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 3-28, 2018. Pope Francis noted: "The theme, an
expression of the pastoral care of the Church for the young, is
consistent with the results of the recent Synod assemblies on the family
and with the content of the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Its
aim is to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity
so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for
life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and
with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the
Church and of society."
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)
When does the Synod of Bishops meet?
The Synod of Bishops meets at the request of the Holy Father, when he considers it necessary or opportune to consult with the world's bishops.
What are the meetings of the Synod of Bishops called?
The Synod of Bishops can meet in a General Assembly (or Session) on topics that pertain to the entire Church; these kinds of sessions can be either Ordinary or Extraordinary. The Synod of Bishops can also meet in a Special Assembly (or Session) on topics that pertain to a limited geographical area. For example, Special Assemblies have been held in recent years on topics concerning the Middle East and Africa.
What is an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops?
A General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is called "Ordinary" if its topic is "for the good of the universal Church" and seems to require the "learning, prudence and counsel" of all the world's bishops (Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, 4)
What is an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops?
A General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is called "Extraordinary" when it is convened to deal with matters "which require a speedy solution" (Code of Canon Law, cannon 346 §2) and which demand "immediate attention for the good of the entire Church" (OSE, 4).
Who are the heads of the Synod of Bishops?
The President of the Synod is the current Holy Father, Pope Francis. The Synod also has a General Secretary, who is currently Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri. (See the Vatican website for a list of past Presidents and General Secretaries.)
15th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops on Young People
What is the theme of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops?
"Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment"
What are the dates of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops?
October 3-28, 2018
Where will the 15th Ordinary Synod take place?
What is the purpose of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops?
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 attends this Synod?
The Synod is not a "synod of youth,"
but of bishops to discuss youth and young adults in light of their current
realities and the journey of vocational discernment. There will be a few young adults (18-29)
present as auditors, but the voting members of the Synod are bishop
representatives from around the world. The delegates from the United States are:
- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB
- Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Vice President of the USCCB
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia,
Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and
- Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, member of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
- Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis
What are the topics of discussion?
There will be many topics discussed at the
Synod, that will emerge from the Instrumentum Laboris. There are no planned questions at this point in the process.
Rather, the gathering will be a conversation that includes interventions by
bishops and small group conversations.
What is the International Pre-Synod Gathering? Who attended it?
Three young adult delegates were
discerned by the USCCB to represent the United States of America at the
March 2018 Pre-Synod Gathering in Rome. The United States will
participate in a special Pre-Synod Gathering in March 2018 in Rome, a
milestone on the way to the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and
Vocational Discernment. Participants were selected from across the globe to meet and discuss the questions posed in the Preparatory Document, and develop a document summarizing their discussion to inform the proceedings of the Synod.
The young adults are:
Javier Hansen, FSC, originally from northern California, is a Brother
of the Christian Schools in the Lasallian District of San Francisco-New
Orleans, currently serving as a religion teacher at Cathedral High
School-El Paso, Texas.
López, originally from San Antonio, currently serves as the director of
campus ministry for the University of Dallas. He is also a guest
columnist for the Catholic News Service column, In Light of Faith,
focused on millennials.
Prejean McGrady, of the Diocese of Lake Charles in Louisiana, is a
wife, new mother, youth minister, and a popular speaker who has been
working with many youth and young adult communities across the country.
addition to the three delegates chosen by the USCCB to represent the parishes
and dioceses of the United States, there will be other delegates at the
Pre-Synod representing other groups (i.e. Eastern Rite Catholic Churches,
various apostolates and movements) who live in the U.S. The bishops are
grateful for all of their efforts and their willingness to serve as
representatives on behalf of their peers.
What documents were released in advance of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops?
January 2017: The Synod Preparatory Document looks at the current global situation, the lives of young people in the modern world, and the process of walking with young people as they discern their personal "vocation of love." The document ends with a questionnaire about young people and vocational discernment inviting responses that will be incorporated into a working document for the October 2018 synod.
"Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls"
Pope Francis also released his Letter to Young People in which he entrusted the Preparatory Document to young people as a "compass on this synodal journey". Pope Francis tells young people "do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit" and encourages them to "undertake a journey of discernment to discover God's plan" for their lives. Pope Francis' letter encourages young people to let their voices be heard throughout the synodal journey and he ends by entrusting them to the Blessed Mother that she might guide them in responding "Here I am" to God's call.
June 2017: The Vatican Synod Office launched a special website and survey aimed directly at youth and young adults. The survey will help the Synod Office better understand the realities of young people today and their pathways to vocation and the Catholic faith.
Working Document, presented to Pope Francis by the young adults participating in
the Pre-Synod Gathering on Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018.
June 2018:Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document) for the Synod of
Bishops released on June 19, 2018. The document includes input from the global consultations, online survey,
and the Pre-Synod feedback.
The 2018 Synod is focused around persons ages
16 to 29. In Italian, these young men and women are called
"giovani" (and in Spanish, "jovenes"); in the United
States, this phrase would most accurately translate to "youth and young adults" (or "young
people"). In other English-speaking countries, the word "youth"
is used; however, in the U.S., the term "youth"
designates adolescents approximately ages 13 to 18, sometimes
younger. The term "young adult" designates those in their late
teens, 20s and 30s. Therefore, when speaking of the Synod and its focus in the
USA, it is best to use the phrase "youth and young adults" (or
"young people") since the age-range includes both groups.
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.
How can I prepare for the Synod?
Read Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation on
the call to holiness in today's world. This calling is also integral to
the vocational aspects of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on "Young
People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment." Gaudete et Exsultate, or Rejoice and Be Glad can be found on the Vatican website and is available for purchase in the USCCB Store.
The USCCB has also collaborated on two preparatory resources for the upcoming 15th Ordinary Synod.
Cultures of Formation: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment: The University of Notre Dame McGrath Institute for Church Life, in
collaboration with the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, hosted a conference
in March 2018 on the upcoming Synod. Digital resources from the
conference (including videos, research reports, and reflection
questions) are now available for download on their website.
Unpacking the Synod Working Document: The Southeast
Pastoral Institute (SEPI) of the U.S. Catholic Bishops SE Regional
Office for Hispanic Ministry, in collaboration with the USCCB
Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth hosted a webinar
to help unpack the Instrumentum Laboris. Watch the recorded webinar now
in English or Spanish.
More Information on Ministry with Young People
Youth Ministry: Youth are defined as young people ages 12 to 18 in junior high school or high school. Youth Ministry is the Church's pastoral action with this age group in parishes, grade schools and high schools, dioceses, movements, apostolates, and other ministry contexts.
Young Adult Ministry: Young adults are defined as young people ages 19 to 39 who are single or married, divorced or widowed, and in college, working, unemployed, incarcerated, or in the military. Young Adult Ministry is the Church's pastoral action with these age groups in parishes, college and university campuses, dioceses, movements, apostolates, and other ministry contexts.
Pastoral Juvenil: In Hispanic-Latino cultures, "jovenes" are those young people ages approximately 16 to 30 (or until marriage), and Pastoral Juvenil Hispana is the Church's pastoral action with these young men and women in parishes, schools, dioceses, movements, apostolates, and other ministry contexts.
World Youth Day: On February 22, 2018, Pope Francis released his
message for the 2018 "World Youth Day" celebration (which is internationally
celebrated on Palm Sunday, this year March 25). The theme of this year, which is
aimed at all youth and young adults, is "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have
found favour with God" (Lk 1:30) .
The document is available in various
languages on the Vatican website.
In the message, he references the Synod and the
preparation for World Youth Day.
This is the second of three year cycle of WYD themes
focused around discernment, vocation, and the Blessed Mother (Lk 1:49, Lk 1:30,
Lk. 1:38). Last year, the Holy Father asked
young people to reflect on their past and how "the Almighty has done great
things" for them. This year, the Holy Father is
encouraging young people to be aware of the present moment – not to be
frightened by it or by their own self-doubts, but to take courage and be open
to accepting the Lord's invitation to engage and to lead in church and in
National Dialogue: The upcoming Synod offers the Church a
time to grow in understanding of youth and young adults. The National
Dialogue is an initiative dedicated to seeing an energized and unified
Church committed to forming and engaging youth and young adults as
missionary disciples. Through this three year process, the National
Dialogue hopes to equip the Church with adequate ways to respond to the
results of the Synod in order to create a more united community.
If you have additional questions about the Synod on "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment," please contact the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at email@example.com or call 202-541-3040. You can also find out more about the Synod process (with videos and photos from around the world) at the Vatican's special 2018 Synod webpage.