By Amy White
The Texas Catholic
More than 300 young adults gathered under the cozy lights of Community Beer Co. to sip beer and share their perspectives on today’s Church.
This Oct. 3 synodal listening session, titled “Conversations Unfiltered: The Church and the Future,” was an opportunity for young adults, ages 21 to 35, to discuss their experience as young people within the Dallas diocese. The session was the 28th of 30.
At previous synodal listening sessions, regardless of the session topic, participants often expressed concern about young adults leaving the faith, said Lacy de la Garza, chair of the Synod Preparatory Commission.
“That’s what actually inspired us to do this,” de la Garza said. “This particular listening session’s goal is to incorporate the voices of people who have not necessarily been a part of this process yet. We want to make sure that we hear what they have to say, that it’s documented, and that we can return back to it and use it in building solutions for the future of our diocese.”
The listening session consisted of small group discussions among the young adults, followed by a Q&A session where participants could submit their questions to Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly for answer.
Input from Young Adults
While in their small groups, young adults discussed questions including: How can you see the Church best assisting you in facing the challenges in your life? In what ways would you like to learn more about faith, specifically the Catholic faith? and other, related topics of discussion.
Young adults shared their perspectives with those at their tables.
“There are lots of people who have—not exactly concerns, but questions; and they want direction,” said Natalie Williams, a young adult participant who regularly attends Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey in Irving. “The conversation I just left was talking about the difficulties of finding good marriage preparation and good marriage counseling. It’s really hard for people seeking good marriage prep to have a place where they feel welcomed and feel secure in their preparations.”
Mike Rodriguez, a young adult from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco, came to the listening session with friends after learning of the event through Instagram.
“A big thing that we discussed was how can you bring young adults closer to the faith,” Rodriguez said. “And I believe we came to a collective consensus that we desire more reverence in the Mass.”
Some young adults expressed concerns about communication and the accessibility of existing resources in the diocese.
“We want better accessibility, because I know that there are a lot of events out there, but they’re kind of hard to find,” said Michelle Green, a young adult participant and a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. “So, maybe if there’s one key website that has all the different Catholic events going on, that would be helpful.”
Ale Taliente, a member of St. Ann Catholic Parish in Coppell, came with her sister, Stefi, and a friend.
“There’s kind of a lack with helping young adults know where to go with psychological struggles, spiritual struggles,” Taliente said. “There are resources out there; but sometimes, it’s hard to find where to start.”
Several young adults expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to shape the future of the diocese through participation in this session.
“I really believe that participating in the Church is what we’re called to do,” said Chris Tarantino, a young adult from St. Rita Catholic Community. “I think it’s been a really helpful process.”
At the end of the night, Bishop Kelly and de la Garza answered select questions submitted by young adults.
Questions from young adults covered topics of access to spiritual direction, intellectual development resources, and community, as well as other subjects.
“We got probably 100 questions tonight,” de la Garza said. “I would guess that about 20 of those had to do with building and sustaining community.”
While answering questions, Bishop Kelly stressed the purpose of the listening session.
“This isn’t about changing Church doctrine,” Bishop Kelly said. “It is about how do we best preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people of this culture, in this time, at this place, in the most fruitful fashion.”
The final synodal listening session will be hosted at Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep on Oct. 21. The session is titled “Resource Management, Project Planning, and Growing the Church.” As in previous sessions, the preparatory commission will collect data from participants to create resolutions. These resolutions will be presented at the Synod Assembly Meeting in 2024.