In these dark times, young people a beacon of hope

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | September 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

In just a few weeks, bishops and experts will be gathering in Rome for the 15th Ordinary Synod, which will focus on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. The preparations began more than a year ago for what will be a golden opportunity for the universal Church to listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit concerning this important topic.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

You will remember that the Holy Father solicited online input from young people around the world and encouraged gatherings within the local diocese to consider the questions that will be treated in the course of the Synod, which will last from Oct. 3-28. It’s an amazing commitment of time and resources that reflects the importance of young people to the life of the Church.

I sure hope the Synod will give evidence of the vitality of young believers that I have so regularly experienced in this archdiocese. Allow me to mention a few recent examples.

On Sept. 11, I had the pleasure of commissioning 170 NET missionaries, young people who commit a year of their lives to sharing the Gospel with teens around the country. At the commissioning Mass, the excitement was palpable. In the midst of the dark clouds that have recently been encircling our Church, these young people were giving an unqualified “yes” to Jesus and going full steam ahead in proclaiming the Good News. Amazingly, 22 of those young people are right here from our archdiocese.

Similar commitment was evident when I celebrated Mass at a gathering the following week for those involved in youth ministry and youth catechesis in our archdiocese, many of them themselves young adults. Judging from those who participated, working with youth must serve to rejuvenate the soul. There was a high degree of engagement and a deep desire to help the Church through the difficult challenges before us.

That commitment to rebuilding the Church — the mission that once captivated the heart of another young adult, St. Francis of Assisi — is equally evident in the open letter to me that young adults and other members of our archdiocese recently published at

It’s a carefully researched and impassioned plea for transformative reform and renewal in our Church to address the issues of abuse and cover-ups, in a way that respects our Catholic understanding of the Church as the body of Christ and recognizes that all have a role to play in righting the ship. As they stated, “Every Catholic has a responsibility to ensure that our Church is safe, compassionate and committed to following Christ in word and deed.”

Having prayed with many of the signatories when they gathered in a vigil on the steps of our Cathedral in August, I know that they’re heartbroken about the Church’s present challenges and serious about humbly and prayerfully discerning next steps for rolling up their sleeves and embracing the work of renewal. I was really moved when they offered “accompaniment” to me as the archdiocese continues its work of rebuilding trust. They concretely offered the resources of the young adult community to “provide presentations and facilitate discussions” based on their study of sexual abuse and misconduct.

We are blessed to have so many young adults in our area who are theologically articulate and genuinely focused on Christ — a reflection, I would argue, of not only strong families, but also of the great work that is being done on the Catholic campuses in our region and through our campus ministries at our secular colleges. I’m grateful as well for the parishes that offer special outreach to our young adults, offering opportunities for both leadership development and peer support. They help form our young adults and young families to love the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church and take seriously the universal call to holiness that echoed through the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

In my discussions with young adults in these last weeks, I have been inspired as well by their sense of the need for ongoing personal conversion. They want holy and faithful priests, deacons and bishops who, in love with Christ, can point them and their families toward him. That is what the Church wants for them as well.

I look forward to continuing the conversation with our young Catholics on each of the points they raised. I trust that the Lord will guide this dialogue, which I suspect will be important not only for them but for all of us in this local Church. Throughout salvation history, the Lord has used the likes of David and Esther, youthful and relatively inexperienced, to humble the proud and save his people. We give thanks to God that he continues to speak to the hearts of the young and has prepared them “for such a time as this” (Es 4:14).

En estos tiempos oscuros, los jóvenes son un faro de esperanza


Category: Only Jesus