By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Being a young auditor is Vincent Paul Nneji’s second contribution to the Synod of Bishops. He made his first contribution when he came to Rome in March and participated in the Pre-Synod meeting. Vincent spoke with Devin Watkins about a new message he is hearing and shares what he and other young Nigerians can offer the Church.
Vincent says he’s hearing a new message which he calls “the act of listening”. It’s unheard of for young people to speak out and be heard in Nigeria, he said, because “the older ones don’t tell lies and they are never wrong.”
“So the fact that Bishops can acknowledge that they are wrong and that they have made mistakes and they are ready to listen to us is one big message for us in Nigeria. It means that it’s possible to air our views. This is a very big surprise.”
Nigeria needs leaders
Because of poor political and social leadership in Nigeria, Vincent says that young people look to the Church to fill the void.
“It’s a cry that has lingered for so long, from generation to generation, and we are tired of expecting things from the regular world and our leaders in Nigeria. So we look to the Church to step in and at least try to provide some of the basic things that we need like education and security.”
What young people have to offer the Church
Vincent says that he and many other young people bring a readiness to collaborate and a strong faith to the Church. He says that many of his peers have been killed in terrorist attacks. “We watched them die and cannot do anything about it”, he said.
“I am bringing the passion, the emotion, the cries of the less privileged, those who are poverty-stricken. And I’m bringing the hopes of those who still believe in the Church and wish to have a better society.”
Thoughts on the Synod document
Vincent says that young people are eager to find out what will come out of the Synod of Bishops on Young People. And he continued,
“But you know we are tired of reading documents 100 or 200 pages long. We young people want to see some practical things, steps, and probably if they can be published in a very attractive way for young people to use to and want to read or listen to.”
Challenge to young people
Vincent ended saying he has a challenge for his peers around the world.
“Try to visit our place it’s quite nice to live in and its full of traditions and colorful cultures that they can learn from and probably take to their place. We are hospitable in Nigeria in as much as we have challenges here and there, but we are very accommodating, very loving, and we watch each others’ backs.”