SAN BERNARDINO—The Diocese completed its local consultation for the worldwide Synod on Youth in September and received the biggest response of the three surveys issued on behalf of Vatican Synods since 2013.
During, two-month period more than 1,600 people responded to the 20-question survey. Most responded online through Survey Monkey although written responses were collected at Diocesan events.
The largest group of respondents (600) was lay adults, which included parents, youth ministers, parish staff members and Diocesan staff members. Youth, themselves, made a strong response (556) along with young adults (402). Just under 100 clergy responded to the survey.
The Diocesan survey, a simplified version of questions provided by the Vatican, probed the depth and effectiveness of youth ministries in the Diocese. Questions in this vein included - In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people? Responses were divided between those youth who felt supported by parish youth ministries and interactions with priests through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and those who felt that “the Church does not ever talk about the things I am going through.”
Another question probed what are the main challenges and most significant opportunities for young people today? Interestingly, many respondents listed the young people’s affinity for technology as both a challenge (cyber bullying, pornography) and opportunity (a new means of evangelization).
Another question simply asked what do young people really ask of the Church in our country today? Responses of youth and young adults to this question included that parishes should reach out to youth with a more “dynamic and engaging approach.” Another asked that youth and young adults be “welcomed and not judged” in church life.
The local consultation is part of the preparatory phase of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops’ conferences and other church bodies, will provide the basis for the drafting of the Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, for the assembly of bishops that participate in the Synod.
The dialogue phase of the Synod will take place in 2018.