Pope to young people: 13 questions to make voices heard in Rome

| May 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

When Jean Stolpestad attended the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland, she met an aimless young man from the West Coast.

Stolpestad, who accompanied the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ pilgrims, had learned the man had dropped out of college because he didn’t like to study. After Stolpestad prodded about his interests and goals, he said he could maybe see himself in gaming as a career.

The director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life, Stolpestad described this man at World Youth Day as the kind of person Pope Francis seeks to discuss in the upcoming youth and young adult-themed synod.

“They’re not engaged in social structures; they’re not engaged in their future or in their life,” Stolpestad said of the young people drawing Pope Francis’ concern.

Pope Francis announced the plans for the 2018 synod Oct. 6, 2016. The 15th general assembly of the Synod of Bishops will have the theme “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment” to address the main issues facing young people ages 18 to 30.

Before the synod, the Holy Father wishes to hear from youth around the world via a Vatican-produced survey sent to all dioceses. Survey results will be processed at the Vatican in time for the synod.

The archdiocese will have the survey on its website by June 8. It takes up to 15 minutes to complete the 13-question survey, but it still counts if a participant completes only one question. The questions ask about challenges of young adulthood, social life, faith involvement, making life decisions and education experiences. The survey concludes with “If you could tell Pope Francis one thing, what would it be?”

Stolpestad said Pope Francis is “desiring to aid those young people that he calls NEET: not employed in education or in trends.” She believes the pope at World Youth Day may have hinted at wanting to engage young people more including synod to help them.

“He said, ‘Get off the couch, stop being couch potatoes,’” Stolpestad said. “We all laughed, but he was serious.”

In addition to the survey, Stolpestad has organized youth and young adult listening sessions around the archdiocese this spring and summer. The forums provide the opportunity for young people to also share their experiences, and the information gathered will also be sent to Rome for the synod.

Sts. Joachim and Anne in Shakopee had the first forum May 16, and St. Stephen in Minneapolis had one May 19. At Sts. Joachim and Anne, small a group of young adults in their 20s came to the session to express their thoughts.

“I just thought it was interesting to hear some of the challenges that they’re facing in terms of trying to live Catholic in a culture that isn’t,” said Cathy Wideman, director of adult catechesis and evangelization at Sts. Joachim and Anne.

She also said they were “talking about just their peers, for instance, taking for granted they’ll be using artificial contraception, or [that] there are so few of their peers at Mass every week.”

St. Pius X in White Bear Lake will host a forum June 11 after the 7:30 p.m. Mass. Cathedral Young Adults will also have one during Theology on Tap 6:30 p.m. July 19 at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill in St. Paul. Stolpestad said there might be more forums scheduled.

Young adults can take the survey at archspm.org/youngadultvoices.


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