This month Diocesan Young Adult Programs Coordinator Brenda Noriega will once again find herself in the upper echelons of the Church when she travels to Rome as one of two U.S. representatives at an international forum on youth and young adults.
Noriega was the subject of international news coverage earlier this year during World Youth Day in Panama. She was the North American representative in a small group that had lunch with Pope Francis and discussed matters of importance to youth and young adults. She ended up serving as the Holy Father’s unofficial translator during the meeting and had a chance to talk with him privately.
Because of this experience and Noriega’s position as a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry, she was invited to the forum at the Vatican. It comes just weeks after the release of Pope Francis’s post-Synodal Exhortation, Christus Vivit, (“Christ is Alive”), which Noriega has worked locally to promote and discuss. The Exhortation followed last year’s Vatican Synod on Youth and Young Adults.
“Representing our country in an international forum is not only a blessing but a big responsibility,” said Noriega. “I am being called to intentionally to listen the young people, collect their voices, and bring them with me to Rome.”
She said she believes representatives from other countries at the Vatican forum will provide valuable insights for her ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.
“I have to ensure I bring back the experience and wisdom from other brothers and sisters,” Noriega said. “I will function as a bridge between the young people in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
“I pray that the Holy Spirit may guide me and remind me that it’s not my voice but ours. We, the United States, are one piece of the universal body of Christ.”