Everything must be done to make the Church our home, to make the parish our home, and so that the young can feel at home in the Church, said Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, summing up the Synod of Bishops on Young People that ended today (October 28th). According to the Archbishop, the most important thing is the Synod’s approach to youth ministry in the vocational key.
The most important result of the Synod of Bishops is, in the opinion of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, the need for a change in the Church, that it should be conceived as a home for the young. The point is, as the Archbishop said, that the young people should not consider the parish an office, but above all as a welcoming place, a place where they can meet each other, where they hear interesting reflections or advice and discover their vocation.
In this context, Archbishop Gądecki emphasized the need to create places dedicated to the young, where they can develop their talents, spend time together, and enrich and form one another. “This is related to the work that makes young people into missionaries for their peers, understanding their language and the same time helping them,” he said. He also drew attention to the need to organize not only one-time events in the Church but above all to think about the formative movement that reaches deep and forms consciences.
The “vocational change,” mentioned by Archbishop Gądecki, must impact not only youth ministry—for example, academic ministry—but all of the pastoral care, which should be imbued with a “vocational desire.” As the President of the Episcopateexplained, the point is not that all should enter the seminary or a convent, but that pastoral work may help the young person to discover a true life vocation, one that suits his or her character and, above all, “the place that God indicates them, not only in society but also in the Church.”
As Archbishop Gądecki reported, the synod fathers spoke about the need for each Bishops’ Conference to prepare a special directorate regarding youth ministry, understood precisely in the vocational key, to support this form of pastoral work.
Archbishop Gądecki also highlighted the question of the renewal of missionary zeal. “If there is talk somewhere about a full Catholic life, then it always includes the mission. If there is no missionary action, the Catholic spirit is not fully mature,” said the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Missionary action, as Archbishop Gądecki said, can be carried out in different spheres of life and activity, such as work, social engagement, culture, politics, ecology, or interreligious dialogue. The head of the Episcopate emphasized that the virtual culture, too, is a space where young people can meet and acquire a missionary spirit and being on a mission also means being a missionary on the web. Emphasizing the existence of dangers related to virtual reality, he also stressed the need to help young people to move around in it. Furthermore, he indicated the need for centers where formators are prepared to help others to train themselves in a missionary sense for tasks they can accomplish in the world and in the Church.