The meeting was attended by about 250 young people between 18 and 30 years old, coming from 109 countries, as well as those responsible for youth ministry in several episcopal conferences.
The aim of the forum, which recovers the previous forums of the Youth Day, was to delve into the proposals of the Synod of Bishops on young people, held in October 2018, and the Pope's Post-Synodal Exhortation Christus vivit.
Among those attending the forum, 37 came from associations and movements. María F. Sáez, a university student from Murcia, from the Acit Joven Movement, participated representing all the youth groups of the Teresian Association. She shares her experience with us.
Pope Francis tells us to get up from the couch and go out into the world
Testimony of the International Youth Forum
«I had the privilege to participate, as a delegate of the Teresian Association, in the XI International Youth Forum from June 18th to 22nd. More than 250 young people from all corners of the world, representing their countries or movements, met to work on the theme “Youth in Action in a Synodal Church”. It had been almost a decade since a forum like this was held, and it has been retaken as part of the process of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October 2018.
This synod dealt with “Young people, faith and discernment”, which is one of the priorities of the Church at the moment.
A synod is a kind of assembly of bishops, which lasts several weeks and in which a specific topic is discussed. In this past synod, more than thirty young people also participated, since the theme was about them, and a spirit of listening and affection was promoted. Some of these young people took part in the Forum, and they explained to us that some breaking schemes are taking place now; for example, for the first time, as preparation, a questionnaire was launched on the Internet for young people and there were meetings on Facebook.
Pope Francis tells us that we are not the future, but that we are the Church now. We are God's now, and the Church needs us in order to be totally authentic, approachable, committed and transparent, which is what young people are asking for. One of the objectives of the Forum was to transmit this message and look for concrete actions that can spread it.
The Pope tells us to get up from the couch, put on our shoes and go out into the world. We want to be actors of peace, hope and happiness. For this we must sow seeds, initiate processes, although we do not see the fruits immediately.
In the Forum we had moments of general assembly, with various interventions and open mic rounds, and also working groups' sessions divided by languages.
On the last day we were fortunate to be welcomed into the Vatican, to celebrate the Eucharist and then to be received by Pope Francis in a private audience. It was a very special moment, in which he wanted to greet us all individually, in a friendly way. This gave us a final push to return to our places of origin with enthusiasm to share the experience and implement what had been entrusted to us: to be the face of the living Christ.
Christus Vivit (Christ lives) is the title of the last Apostolic Exhortation of the Pope, the text he wrote from the conclusions of the synod, which has come to be known as the most important text for today's Church. To this work we dedicate a full day of work in the Forum, since it is obviously essential for those who are working with youth ministry, because it conveys the essence of Christianity, guides on the accompaniment, and also raises some of the challenges of today's society.
Finally, I would like to add that the Forum has been a deep experience of the universal Church. It has been very enriching to share with young people from distant places of the world and to know their realities, feeling that we are all part of something bigger. I am grateful for the atmosphere of fraternity and openness, the support that we gave to each other and that I now want to transmit. Being a Christian today is not easy, but we are a great family and we must act as such. This is the beginning of something, we are in a historical moment and we have a decisive role to make the Church young. As the Pope says in the Christus Vivit, Christ lives and wants you to be alive!»
More information in #youthforum19
María F. Sáez.
Translation: C. Zabalegui and R. Cameron.