Testimony of a Young Woman in the Synod: 'We Ask the Church for Living Witnesses'

Briana Santiago, 27, from Texas

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Wounded by loneliness, family fragility, and existential anxiety, “we ask the Church that she be accompanied by living witnesses, capable of evangelizing through their lives,” said Briana Santiago, a participant in the Synod, on October 4, 2018.
The testimony of this 27-year-old American young woman, a postulant in the “Apostles of the Interior Life” Community of consecrated women, was one of the main interventions of the 2nd General Congregation of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” held on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
Briana, from San Antonio, Texas, is part of a group of 34 young people taking part in the Synod of Bishops. She spoke, in this Congregation, about her vocational journey. She has just begun her fifth year of formation with the “Apostles of the Interior Life” Community of consecrated women, and her fourth year of philosophical and theological studies at the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.
The young woman addressed the Pope and all those present. Young people today are in search, in search of the meaning of life, in search of work, in search of our path or vocation, in search of our identity, she said. “Young people dream of security, stability and personal fulfillment . . of finding a place to which we feel we belong.”
Parallel Reality
We acknowledge the usefulness of the “exchange of information, ideals, values and common interests,” which is possible for us through the Internet, but also how technology, used in an inhuman way, can create a misleading parallel reality that ignores human dignity.”
“The greater part of what I have listed is the fruit of a reflection made during the Pre-Synodal Meeting last March,” she clarified.
Briana attended the preparatory meeting of the Synod, welcoming the English-speaking young people who were connected through the social media, and she was physically present, among the three hundred delegates, while the reflection was developed.
She shared with those present her surprise to see the number of things that young people have in common, despite the different provenances ands cultures.
“There was so much joy in that hall: the joy of knowing and of being known, which was heard in the laughs, the songs and the chats during the pauses,” she recalled.
Adults Anxious to Know
 Young people “want dialogue, authenticity, participation, and we found ourselves welcomed there by adults who were willing and desirous to know what we bear in our heart,” she stressed.
The young auditor of the Synod described the experience as one “of fraternity among very different persons, some even belonging to other religions or non-believers, who lived seven days of communion and mutual sharing.”
Briana acknowledged that “there are so many needs in the world, so many topics on which it is necessary to reflect and dialogue,” and she expressed how young people “are all the more grateful that, in this historic moment, the Church is focusing her attention on us and all that concerns us.”
Honour and Responsibility
 “This is an honour and, for us, also a great responsibility, to be transparent and aware of our fragility to be able to help, not only ourselves, but also the generations that will come after us,” she continued.
On a more personal level, she added, “I share with you that the Lord led me to Rome to discern seriously the consecrated life, not only because my family are practicing Catholics, but also thanks to every person that was Providential in my path.
Briana spoke about her parish priest in San Antonio, Texas, who “made himself one of us, and in his closeness, I saw a welcoming Church that also has a heart for the smallest member, and I melted before that love.”
Briana’s catechists “didn’t speak only of rules, but also of their personal relationship with Christ, which changed my image of God from Judge to Father.” At the University, “I met a consecrated woman who took seriously all that I was experiencing and she accompanied me, helping me to pray and to develop my interior life,” she explained.
“As it was for me, I believe that all of us young people need first to be listened to, and then guided to enter more profoundly into ourselves,” she added.
“In brief, [we want] to be met where we are – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically, clarified Briana.
“I join all of you in the hope that the Spirit may be able to come down upon each one of us and illumine what will lead us ever closer to happiness, to the encounter with Christ in the fullness of life and love,” she concluded.

Full Intervention of Sr. Santiago

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Rosa Die Alcolea

Profesional con 7 años de experiencia laboral en informar sobre la vida de la Iglesia y en comunicación institucional de la Iglesia en España, además de trabajar como crítica de cine y crítica musical como colaboradora en distintos medios de comunicación. Nació en Córdoba, el 22 de octubre de 1986. Doble licenciatura en Periodismo y Comunicación Audiovisual en Universidad CEU San Pablo, Madrid (2005-2011). Ha trabajado como periodista en el Arzobispado de Granada de 2010 a 2017, en diferentes ámbitos: redacción de noticias, atención a medios de comunicación, edición de fotografía y vídeo, producción y locución de 2 programas de radio semanales en COPE Granada, maquetación y edición de la revista digital ‘Fiesta’. Anteriormente, ha trabajado en COPE Córdoba y ABC Córdoba.

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