Pope Francis, in reflecting on young people he encountered and listened to, notes that “at times, the hurt felt by some young people is heart-rending, a pain too deep for words” yet also expressed his hope that “all young people who are suffering (may) feel the closeness of Christian community that can reflect (Jesus’) words by its actions, its embrace, and its concrete help” (Christus Vivit, 77).
When we encounter young people experiencing traumas, anxieties, and uncertainties in difficult times, God truly speaks through our words and actions. First and foremost, before any programming we may envision for the young, the Church is called to accompany youth and young adults with a pastoral approach, to be a “field hospital” responding to and tending the wounds of young people who are often overwhelmed and struggling in life today. How do we practically do this? This session will explore some simple, yet effective, ways that all leaders in the Church can truly take the pastoral approach in ministering with young people.
Paul is Assistant Director, Youth and Young Adult Ministries at the United States Conference of Bishops. Sarah is the Coordinator for College Campus and Young Adult Ministries in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.