Gold Coast youth leader Stephanie Santos wants to tell the world’s bishops that despite a sharp drop in the number of young Catholics at Mass, youth are hungry for the truth. Source: The Catholic Leader.
Ms Santos has been invited to attend the Vatican’s pre-synod meeting in Rome next month, along with Melbourne Chaldean woman Angela Markas, who will represent Australia on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Ms Santos is the youth co-ordinator for the South Coast deanery, incorporating all parishes on the Gold Coast, and is studying a Bachelor of Theology at Australian Catholic University.
The university is sending the 21-year-old to Rome with Brisbane campus ministry associate director Mark Lysaght as representatives of members of the Pontifical Congregation for Catholic Education, which is responsible for universities, schools, faculties and institutes around the world.
Ms Santos will join about 300 Christians from various denominations and non-believers at the March 19 to 24 event.
The meeting will end on Palm Sunday, which also marks the international World Youth Day.
In Rome, Ms Santos hopes to show bishops and other delegates that there is hope and potential for the Church.
“I think there has been lots of negativity towards the Church within the past year, with a lot of different things, and it can be really disheartening sometimes when you’re faced with those challenges,” Ms Santos said.
“In a positive light I want to let the bishops and the wider Church know there is hope, and so many young people who are hungry for the truth.
“That’s something to be excited about.”
Through her work co-ordinating youth groups across the Gold Coast, Ms Santos said she knew more young people were leaving the Church after high school because they were not grounded in the faith.
She said the Church needed to find ways to support the faith growth of young people before they graduated.
“How can we better ground them in their faith to know who God is and have a personal relationship with God so when they leave school they choose to stay in the faith?”
South Coast deanery youth leader chosen for pre-synod meeting in Rome (The Catholic Leader)