Pope to Swiss school chaplains: 'Your presence near young people is necessary'
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis met Friday in the Vatican with a group of school chaplains serving in schools in the Romansh canton in Switzerland.
The Holy Father thanked them for letting him know about their experience of service, noting that it is demanding work, but “one that surely gives so much to those who live it with a strong motivation and generous spirit.”
Fruit of being with the youth
Pope Francis also expressed his gratitude to the chaplains’ spokesperson, who highlighted some aspects of the reality of young people in his presentation.
The Pope noted the value of these aspects because they are not things the chaplains have read in books, but rather the “fruit of your being with the youth, accompanying them, listening to them, and also bringing them before the Lord in prayer.”
Working with young people
Pope Francis held up the work of the chaplains against the backdrop of the Synod “for and with young people” held four years ago. He noted that the Synod on Young People in 2018 did not end with a beautiful final document but was rather the “culminating moment of an ecclesial journey that precedes and follows the assembly.”
The Holy Father added that by being near young people, the chaplains can, in a sense, “write new pages of the Letter that came out of that Synod” - the Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit (25 March 2019).
He said that something of the experience of the disciples of Emmaus is renewed every time one of the chaplains walks with two or three young people on a journey, "listens to them, listens to the disappointments, the failures, the doubts they carry inside, and then speaks to them about Jesus Christ, awakening hope in their hearts."
Another aspect highlighted by the Holy Father in his address to the chaplains was the ecumenical one.
“You are Catholics and Protestants and you work together, in collaboration,” Pope Francis remarked, adding that “this is good, gives good witness, and can help the Church to grow toward an ever fuller unity, more in accordance with the will of Christ the Lord.”
“I encourage you to move forward on the path,” he said.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis thanked the chaplains for their visit, wished them all the best in their work, and blessed them, their colleagues and families.