By Christopher Vitale and Kat Kaderabek
Resident Ministers organized “Rome to Home,” a CUA On Tap event focusing on the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment that took place in Rome in 2018 last Thursday night. The event featured a talk given by Jonathan Lewis, a Catholic University alumnus who participated in the Synod last year.
The night began with Italian dinner catered by Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant and the the talk followed. In his speech, Lewis explained that bishops, cardinals, and lay people from around the world gathered with the Pope in the Synod Hall in Rome. Over the course of one month, the group met six days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in order to discuss the year’s chosen topics and attempt to propose new ways to solve problems involved with these topics of interest. Each individual present was allowed the opportunity of one four-minute slot to address Pope Francis and the rest of the conference attendees.
Piqued by the topic of youth in the Catholic Church, Lewis pointed out that he had noticed that young people in the Church often do not have friends within their parish communities. He noted that this is a serious issue for the Church, because it seems as though the fraternal aspect of parishes is diminishing while the Catholic populous ages. Lewis maintained that it is crucial for young people to have real relationships with other Catholics in order to share, learn, and grow in Christ. This is the pressing matter upon which he subsequently decided to center his four-minute address to the hierarchy of Catholicism.
“How many young people can you name?” inquired Lewis while reading aloud the speech he had delivered in Rome which was directed towards the older generation of clergymen and lay people present. “You say you love the poor—name them. You say you love the young—name them.”
Lewis included these words in an effort to stress the importance of intergenerational relationships within the Church, as it is vital that young people have supportive friendships with their elders so as to foster the exchange of wisdom between people of all different ages.
To touch on other points of the Synod, Lewis discussed the universality of the Catholic Church and emphasized that the problems within Catholicism extend much further than the United States. He highlighted that the Church is truly global, and due to this, it is the responsibility of all followers of Christ to become involved with and educated about foreign issues.
“We have to meet people’s basic human needs regardless of geopolitical location,” said Lewis.
To tie things back to the theme of community, Lewis addressed the matter of polarization in the U.S. and stated that in order to move past the divisive polarization, Catholics must learn to rediscover the culture of encounter. This ‘encounter’ that Lewis spoke of refers to a stronger encounter with the faith and with God as well as a stronger encounter with others in the community. He stressed that people must find the humility to inhabit the perspectives of others and walk in their shoes; this is a fundamental way that Catholics can reinforce fraternity and bond as a sort of missionary community aiming to help those in need.
Additionally, Lewis explored the misconception that the word “vocation” refers exclusively to discerning the priesthood. He asserted that everyone has a vocation, not just those called to religious life, as the call to holiness is grounded in the sacrament of baptism and is thus applicable to all Christians alike.
In response to Lewis’ talk at the event, Catholic University Resident Minister Jackson Martinez spoke about his appreciation of the speech.
“His call to get to know young people by name and intentionally walk with them as a spiritual mentor really left an impression on me,” said Martinez. “Jonathan’s combination of humor, experience, and wisdom made his talk one of the best that I have heard during my time at CUA.”
Hopefully Lewis’ presentation was able to inspire many others present at the event in a similar manner to how it inspired Martinez, as Lewis left his audience with a powerful encouragement to get up and get active in the Church so as to make real differences and resolve conflicts. He finished his presentation by saying,“The Synod doesn’t matter unless we do something about it.”