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Sebastian Duhau at the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment in 2018 (Vatican Media)

It is five years since Pope Francis’ letter to young people and the entire Church, Christus Vivit, which followed the Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment, writes Sebastian Duhau. Source: Catholic Outlook.

In October 2018, I represented the young people of Australia as an auditor at the Synod. I was one of 30 young people globally given this opportunity, and it has shaped the way that I see, experience, and understand the Church.

I vividly remember the first day of the Synod. As I, and each of the Synod members entered the audience hall, Pope Francis stood at the entryway, greeting each member personally. 

This simple but meaningful gesture immediately prompted me to think about how I welcome people into my own community. Do I stand at the door, ready and eager to meet all those who enter, or do I distance myself from anyone unfamiliar to me? 

The Synod presented an opportunity to heed Pope Francis’ invitation to “listen to the Spirit” and to allow the Synod to inform me, rather than the other way around.

Learning about people’s contexts, stories, and realities, was as important as learning the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document), and forming community was as important as forming modi (amendments) for that document. 

When this happened, the entire experience of the Synod shifted.

As young people, we were united through our shared priorities and experiences, and 30 individual murmurs became one powerful voice, advocating for young people everywhere and breathing new wisdom, energy, and joy into our collective space. 

Frustrating arguments in small groups were replaced by authentic dialogue, and a genuine desire to find common ground. 

This experience shaped the way I live my faith, and more than five years after the Synod, the lessons I learned are as valuable as ever.

The image of standing at the door, welcoming all those who enter is a powerful one; the story of the Prodigal Son shows us that.

Right now, though, simply standing at the door isn’t good enough. Rather, how are we going outside of our communities and comfort zones, actively meeting those on the margins where they are, and letting them know that they have a home in our Church?  

Sebastian Duhau is a MET Facilitator – Catholic Youth Parramatta, part of the Mission Enhancement Team of the Diocese of Parramatta.


The real power of Christus Vivit five years on (Catholic Outlook)