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Editorial | Connect with youth, young adults

Papal document provides a message and a task

It’s worth repeating many times. Shout it from the mountains, as they say: “Christ Lives!”

Pope Francis speaks to “all Christian young people” and the people of God about mission, vocation and discernment in his new post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Christus Vivit” (“Christ Lives”).

The core of the pope’s message to young people is that they remember they are loved by God and saved by Jesus, who continues to live and act in the world and in their lives.

“His love is so real, so true, so concrete, that it invites us to a relationship of openness and fruitful dialogue,” even when one is angry with God, the pope said. “He does not get upset if you share your questions with Him. He is concerned when you don’t talk to Him, when you are not open to dialogue with Him.”

The release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation is “a wonderful summons to the Church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those disconnected from the Church,” stated the president and committee chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The statement noted that the teaching from Pope Francis followed a process of walking with and listening to young people. The pope’s message and documents of the synod provide a framework to build upon in dioceses, parishes and communities, the statement added.

An article in this week’s St. Louis Review details how an athlete at the University of Missouri-Columbia grew in her faith life through the nondenominational Athletes in Action and its Ultimate Training Camp. It led her to a deeper faith and more involvement with the Newman Center on campus. The pope’s message and her example show the importance of a Catholic presence on our college campuses and the importance of youth and young adult ministries.

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Catholic Youth Apostolate’s Office of Young Adult Ministry, for example, supports vibrant and visible communities that empower young adults to grow in their relationship with Christ and His Church. The ideal, as proclaimed by the ministry and stressed in the papal document, is for young adults to become transformative leaders in their parishes, communities and the world. As the U.S. bishops note in their statement, their insights can help us grow as a Church and guide us as we all learn to become better missionary disciples in an intercultural and intergenerational context.

We all must get better at listening to young people, taking their questions seriously and recognizing them as full members of the Church. As the pope wrote in the exhortation, “we cannot just say that young people are the future of our world. They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it.” We can offer guidance as they discern the best way to live their faith. We all are called to holiness and to a mission of spreading the Gospel.

The consultation process showed that many young people want to know and understand the teachings of the Church and, despite what many people think, they long for and need times of silent reflection and opportunities to serve their communities.

We must work hard to let young people know they have a place in the Catholic Church and they are loved by God and saved by Jesus, who continues to live and act in the world and in their lives. Don’t leave it to someone else. Tell them today.

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