The gathering was opened by Diocesan Youth Chaplain Fr Mark Walker, who thanked the nearly 90 young people for coming to hear the reflections of the Cardinal and to discuss them with their peers. He led the audience in Lectio Divina, allowing quiet reflection on the scripture before the Cardinal spoke.
The Cardinal began by explaining the mechanics of a Synod, how long it was, how many people were there and gave a brief explanation of how the days worked. He mentioned that a summary document had been produced, but that he would be focusing on conveying to the young people the spirit of the discussion of the Synod.
As the Synod was so long, and covered so many issues, he shared nine themes and, given the constraint of time, asked the young people to vote on the three topics that interested them most. The most popular three were: ‘The fundamental vocation of every human person is love’, ‘Only in Jesus are the deepest unrests satisfied’ and ‘Not a new Church but a renewed Church’.
During the Synod, he began, after every five presentations there was a few minutes’ silent reflection requested by Pope Francis. This had helped him to take in more of what was being said, and he was keen for the young people to experience this too, so after each reflection was a couple of minutes’ silence.
The first theme was ‘The fundamental vocation of every human person is love’ and Cardinal Vincent spoke about how often at the start of the Synod, the word ‘vocation’ in the title was taken in the specific sense of a religious vocation by many people. However, gradually the idea developed that everyone’s fundamental vocation was to love, not just because of faith, but because of our humanity. He went on to reference Deus Caritas Est by Pope Benedict XVI on how love is not just giving or taking, but both held together. Without either, the act is empty; and without love, as Christians, we are empty.
Secondly he reflected on ‘Only in Jesus are our deepest unrests satisfied’, beginning with a story about a young martyr from India who refused to give up his faith even in the face of death. This served to remind both the Synod Fathers and the young people that, at the heart of everything is our personal relationship with Jesus. He outlined several ways we can bring people into a relationship with Jesus.
The final theme was ‘Not a new Church but a renewed Church’ which also involved an explanation of Synodality, a topic of much reflection in Rome, as a process of journeying together and accepting that it was appropriate for young people to be young people and bishops to be bishops. This was the diversity of the Church, and a path towards renewing the Church though a respectful coming together. Often, discussion in our society is marked by hostility, particularly on the internet, but this Synod was an example of how we can walk together with respect.
There was an opportunity for discussion and questions, as the young people shared their responses with the Cardinal.
Reflecting on the event, Cardinal Vincent said: “At the recent Synod of Bishops there were nearly 40 young people playing a full and energetic part in the discussions and proceedings. On Tuesday, here in Archbishop’s House, there were nearly 90 young people with the same lively love of their Catholic Faith, wanting to know about the discussions in Rome.
“We had a great evening, opening up key areas of exchange and prayer: What is the fundamental vocation of every person? How do we get to meet Jesus and speak of him to others? How do we grow in our knowledge and understanding of the faith, in and with the community of the Church?
“The spirit of the evening was very much: let’s tackle these things together! The same spirit that filled the Synod Hall in Rome. The Church is young and alive and joyful, ready to tackle the great challenges of today!”