By Joachim Teigen
On her birthday last month, 28 year old Carina Baumgartner from Austria received the news that she had been nominated to the newly established International Youth Advisory Body.
Made up of 20 young people from five continents, the group will be tasked with advising the Pope on matters surrounding youth ministry and other topics related to young people.
“I was surprised by the nomination, and I didn’t expect it. I had many questions as to what the tasks would be” Baumgartner said in an interview with Vatican News. “Now, step by step, I am getting to know what the nomination will entail, and I’m really looking forward to it”.
A place for the youth to bring experiences and thoughts
While currently completing a master’s degree as a theatre teacher, Baumgartner works as a kindergarten and after-school teacher. She has previously studied social work, and has been involved as a consultant for the Salesians of Don Bosco in Austria.
Drawing on her experience, she said that “I think it is very important to give young people this sort of responsibility, and to show them that what they have to say is important”.
“With this Youth Body, they now have a place to share their experiences, as well as their thoughts on various topics” Baumgartner said, adding that “it will be important to reach out to those who are still far from the Church and who have not experienced it as a place where they can feel at home”.
“Generation Laudato si’”
One of Baumgartner’s concerns is that young people must get involved in their local church on every level.
She was also involved in the launch of “Generation Laudato si’”, a campaign aimed at getting young people involved in taking care of our common home. The campaign was launched during World Youth Day in Panama earlier this year.
Despite the common impression that the faith is not easily communicated to the new generation, Baumgartner said that “Through my work, I see so many young people who are engaged, and they show others that the Church is young and that it is a place they can call home”.
As a young, engaged woman herself of a largely secularised generation, she said: “My faith and the Catholic Church are both very important to me. The Church is a community for those who wish to deepen their faith, and I see this every day. This is what I want to share with others, to invite others into this community, and to share with them the Good News”.