Synod 2018: Family and Peer Support

This article is a summary of one segment of the preparatory document for the 2018 Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” which focuses on family, peers, and community support in vocational discernment. A full list of synod questions posed to the faithful can be found here. We invite your comments and discussion on them.

The Role of Educators, Mentors, and Families

The synod document clearly states the importance of personal and institutional points of references for young people. In says:

“….young people have a need for persons of reference, who are close-by, credible, consistent and honest, in addition to places and occasions for testing their ability to relate to others (both adults and peers) and dealing with their feelings and emotions. Young people look for persons of reference who are able to express empathy and offer them support…”

So the interaction and support from peers is particularly important. Young persons need an opportunity free interaction with them, to be able to express feelings and emotions among them, and to learn in an informal manner from them and with them.

The synod document recognizes the danger of a general lack of trust of institutions and even the Church among young people. There is a general “Anti-Institutional” attitude prevalent. In place of the Church, many find their home in sects, groups, or other substitutes for belonging to the Body of Christ. But their lives are too often characterized by fluidity and insecurity.

A Reflective Course of Action

The synod document calls for an increasingly “reflective course of action” for young people. It points to the increasing fluidity of choices as a source of concern. For many young people, the horizon consists of options which can always be reversed rather than definitive choices. “Today I choose this, tomorrow we’ll see,” is the attitude. In general, there is a lack of bold commitment.

Pope Francis has spoken often on the importance of taking risks, and making bold choices. At the Discourse at Villa Nazareth, he said:

The synod document declares a crisis of education. It references the educational emergency highlighted by Pope Benedict in 2008 in his Letter to the City and the Diocese of Rome on the Urgency of Educating Young People.


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Luke is co-creator of ActivPrayer and Executive Director of Inscape, an organization that he co-founded with Dr. Joshua Miller. Visit his Speaker page here.

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