Latest Synod assembly focuses on youth

Alexa Carpenter, Crier staff

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In efforts to preserve the Catholic Church’s sacred doctrines and sustain its venerated disciplines, the Synod of Bishops was established in 1965 by Pope Paul VI and remains as an essential feature of the Catholic Church today.

For those who aren’t yet familiar with the Synod of Bishops, the Synod is a permanent institution in the Catholic Church that is composed of fifteen bishops chosen to represent various regions from all over the world. According to the Code of Canon Law (CIC), the assembly of Bishops is purposed to “counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals, and in the observance and strengthening of [the] ecclesiastical discipline” of the Catholic Church.

The institution was established following the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The Synod’s founder, Pope Paul VI was committed to instilling the same spirit of community and collegiality present in the Second Vatican Council within the new and improved Catholic institution. Pope Paul sought “to make ever greater use of the bishops’ assistance in providing for the good of the universal Church” and to allow the general public an opportunity to revel in “the consolation of the [Bishops] presence, the help of their wisdom and experience, the support of their counsel, and the voice of their authority.”  

Throughout history, the Synod of Bishops has demonstrated their strong commitment to this notion of community engagement through their involvement in various assemblies and campaigns around the world. For example, each year the Bishops embark on a different campaign that addresses pertinent issues within a society, as well as a particular age demographic that they aim to reach through their messages of hope and inspiration.

The latest Synod assembly titled, “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” has been an ongoing campaign throughout 2018 that is centered around the communities’ youth. Through the delivery of this series’ message to individuals ages sixteen to twenty-nine, Bishops have engaged with young people to provide them with the guidance and wisdom they need on their various paths to discovering purpose and meaning in life.

Of the fifteen bishops on the council, Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, delivered the most recent of messages just a few weeks ago. He began by addressing the community: “Dear young people, as we come to the end of this first session of the synod. . . I want to, first of all, thank you for all the work that you have put into the preparation of this synod. What you have brought as reflections have helped us all, the synod fathers, to better understand what you are living [and] experiencing, what you are asking of the church– not just of us bishops and your priest and pastors, but of all the community of believers in our church.”

Cardinal Lacroix goes on to describe how important the relational dynamic between the church and the younger generations is– not only for the growth and development of the communities’ youth but also for the prosperity of the church and the betterment of its leaders. Through this mutually beneficial relationship, Cardinal Lacroix acknowledges the vast potential for success that a community can have. He reflects on his and his fellow Bishops’ experience: “I would say that at the end of this first period of the synod, I feel that we’ve gotten, like a shot in the arm of hope, while we discern [and] while we see how we can better continue together with you young people who are part of this community [and] of this church; how we can continue to proclaim the gospel, better accompany you and you accompany us so that together, we will spread the good news of Jesus Christ and build a better world.” He finishes his message by leaving his community with a few words of encouragement: “the best is yet to come.”

As a student or staff member at Saint Anselm College, we also have the unique and incredible opportunity to engage with individuals just as wise and venerable as the Synod of Bishops’ assembly. The monastic community at our school not only stands as a physical embodiment of our school’s core Benedictine values, but they also dedicate much of their time to student engagement; working in departments such as “teaching, counseling, publications, maintenance, and administration” (

In addition, members within the monastic community form close relationships with countless students that endure far beyond their graduation from the college. A member of Saint Anselm’s monastic community, Father Stephen reflects, “The monks can have a big impact on students.

When a family member dies or an alum gets married, monks are often attending the funeral or presiding at the wedding.” Likewise, the students can also have a big impact on the monks.

Father Stephen cited the Rule of Saint Benedict when discussing how young people “often reveal to communities the best course of action when deciding certain issues.” He continued, “Benedict’s insight reveals the importance of listening to the young,” and he credits college students as the source of energy and wisdom for the monastic community at Saint A’s.

Cardinal Lacroix said it best, together we can accompany each other to build a better community and a better world.

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