I heard someone remark that young people are the future of the Church. While it is great to think of young people as the foundation of what is to come, the fact is, young people are an integral and alive part of the Church today. Everywhere I go throughout the diocese, I see our young people as men and women of deep faith who are excited, engaged and involved in the mission of the Church in our diocese.
Recently, Pope Francis released a wonderful exhortation, “Christ is Alive,” a letter to young people and the entire Church. The document is the result of a worldwide gathering of young people and Church leaders that was preceded by a period of inquiry. Questionnaires were distributed seeking out opinions from around the world, including here in the Diocese of Cleveland. The input was discussed at a special gathering in Rome in 2018 and this exhortation is the Holy Father’s response to what he heard from young people and where he feels the Spirit of God is moving us.
The pope said Christ is our hope; he brings youth to our world and everything he touches becomes young, new and full of life. “Jesus’ life can prove inspiring for all those young people who are developing and preparing to take up their mission in life. This involves growing in a relationship with the Father, in awareness of being part of a family and a people, and in openness to being filled with the Holy Spirit and led to carry out the mission God gives them, their personal vocation,” the Holy Father wrote. I encourage everyone, especially our young people in the diocese, to read “Christus Vivit, Christ is Alive.”
There is so much good work under way to engage young people in our diocese. Groups such as Teens Encounter Christ, Young Catholic Professionals, the SEARCH retreat program, Catholic Young Adults, the Catholic Youth Organization, Theology on Tap and others are wonderful local organizations connecting young people to their faith.
To ensure the diocese offers as much support as possible to our young people, I have enlisted the help of a robust group of 22 people — professionals in the field, clergy, youth ministers, teachers and others — as members of a youth and young adult “think tank.” I have asked these dedicated men and women to come together and, with the help of a professional planner, develop surveys, focus groups and interview processes aimed at listening to what the people of the Church of Cleveland hope for with regard to ministering to the needs of our youth and young adults — now and in the future. I asked them to think outside the box and make recommendations that are feasible and visionary. I look forward with great anticipation to the report of this special “think tank.”
Another exciting development for young people in our diocese is the arrival this fall of the Culture Project, which engages youthful, specially trained missionaries who will live here and act as yeast or leaven in our parishes, high schools and PSR programs. They will focus on helping to teach our youth the dignity of the person, and how to live a holy and Christ-like life in the midst of our culture. They will bring a wonderful spirit of light and grace to the young people of our diocese.
Please join me in keeping the young people of our diocese in prayer so that, as Pope Francis said, “They may always be attracted by the face of Christ.” May the Holy Spirit always inspire in their hearts the desire to seek what is above as they run the race of life that lies ahead on earth.
Bishop's column is featured in the July-August edition of Northeast Ohio Catholic Magazine. Click HERE to read the entire digital edition.