By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment will take place in the Vatican from 3-28 October. Katie Prejean McGrady was one of three young people chosen by the US Bishops Conference (USCCB) to participate in the pre-Synodal meeting in Rome in March of 2018. She spoke about her experience during the USCCB annual Spring General Assembly, calling it an “honor to represent the US”.
Opportunity to listen
Katie characterized the Pre-Synod meeting as life-changing and discovered “just how valuable the Pope finds the voices of young people to be”.
“I arrived at the Pre-Synod with a résumé that I’m proud of and I thought I knew a lot when I arrived”, Katie went on to say. She had a lot to share at the meeting because of her background and the briefing provided by the USCCB. “But it became quickly evident that no matter what we might say or offer, it was going to be even more important for us to listen”, Katie said.
Speaking with other people from around the world, ”shed light on the opportunities and challenges that we face here in the US”, Katie said. She mentioned a young man from Egypt who wanted to learn about the youth conference experience in the US and about the content provided in formation, prayer and fellowship gatherings. “I realized the significance of the resources that we put into these critically important events”, Katie said.
Katie’s roommate during the Pre-Synod meeting was from China. “She shared many insights with me about what it’s like to grow up in a communist country, where Catholicism is oppressed, discouraged, and under governmental control.” Her roommate shared how difficult it is to prepare people to receive the Sacraments because “faith formation is forbidden”. “Her powerful testimony was inspiring and it brought me to tears when she said, ‘Pray for the Church in China. We are being given the chance to carry Christ’s cross and we are becoming saints’.”
From conversations with her roommate, Katie brought home a renewed understanding of the need for the Church in the US to “remain stalwart in the face of mockery, condemnation and misunderstanding”. She also understood the need to “encourage young people to remain steadfast in their practice of the faith and to be courageous in the defense of what they believe”.
The Final Document
Katie concluded her remarks speaking about the Final Document to which she contributed. “It really is remarkable to read the Summary Document that we wrote as a result of this dialogue. …It is truly a wide-ranging, global, inclusive perspective that seeks to inform the Synod Fathers about what is truly taking place in the lives of youth and young adults today”.