Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life •
The Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, Schoenstatt Father Alexandre Awi Mello, took part in the online conference “Arise! Ministry with young adults in a time of innovation,” which took place on 9 December via the Zoom platform. The conference was organized by the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as part of the National Leadership Forum on Ministry with Young Adults, and was attended by leaders in ministry to young adults in North American dioceses.—
In his key note address, Fr. Awi Mello sought to offer the participants an interpretive key for understanding and analyzing the difficult situation—from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through the present day—in which they, as leaders in pastoral ministry, find themselves.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the current social situation in the United States (and around the world) severely affected our pastoral work, and especially the work with young adults. Many universities spent many months – and many still – closed, classes are online, contact is fundamentally virtual, pastoral and liturgical spaces are physically inaccessible. Parishes and young adult ministries have very limited schedules and activities. Many young adults are out of work and suffer the consequences of social isolation, which has clear consequences for their ecclesial participation”. “Discouragement and lack of hope” continued the Secretary, “can dominate the hearts of young adults, but also their ministers.We all wonder – and this is the main objective of this meeting – what we can do to reach young adults, to listen to them, and to address their needs in the midst of this social and religious crisis, to provide them with the encounter with Christ and His Church.
Innovation, the synodal path, and missionary outreach
There is no “recipe,” but rather a proposal of a path of reflection and hope, from the starting point of the post-Synodal Exhortation Christus Vivit and the papal Message for the diocesan World youth Day — which, even before the pandemic, contained the Pope’s invitation to each young person: “Arise!” This invitation implies creativity, innovation, a “breaking the mold,” so as to offer adequate pastoral service to young adults, who must change the world after the pandemic.
Innovation, the synodal path, and missionary outreach are the key words for a renewed youth ministry, which today more than ever finds in Christus Vivit a guide for facing the challenges of the present and of the near future.