Chicagoland

Youth gather for local discussion on synod themes

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
October 24, 2018

Youth gather for local discussion on synod themes

Dozens of high school students who gathered for an Oct. 20 listening session with Auxiliary Bishop Ron Hicks, the vicar general, said they are looking for ways to live their faith in a world that has become more secular.
Bishop Hicks listens to a response from a small- group discussion at a youth listening session Oct. 20, 2018, at Holy Name Cathedral. About 100 high school participated in the session, which was hosted by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council. Themes included faith and participants' experiences as teenagers in the Catholic Church, and were based on the Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Madison McGuire from St. Athanasius Parish in Evanston takes notes during Bishop Ron Hicks' talk at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session for young people at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Ron Hicks speaks to high school students at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Ron Hicks speaks to high school students at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Nora Junge from Carmel High School in Mundelein raises her hand to answer a question from Bishop Ron Hicks at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A teen lsitens to Bishop Hicks share a personal story about his vocation at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Vania Abance from Most Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan and Jackie Chavez from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School share thoughts at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Vania Abance from Most Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan takes notes while Jackie Chavez from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School shares her thoughts at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Teens discuss their experiences of faith in small groups at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session hosted by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Teens listen to Bishop Ron Hicks at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session hosted by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Ron Hicks answers teens' questions at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Ron Hicks answers teens' questions at an Oct. 20, 2018, listening session at Holy Name Cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Dozens of high school students who gathered for an Oct. 20 listening session with Auxiliary Bishop Ron Hicks, the vicar general, said they are looking for ways to live their faith in a world that has become more secular.

The session, held at Holy Name Cathedral, was organized by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council in conjunction with the Synod of Bishops on Youth.

The young people, who came from parishes and high schools across the archdiocese, met in small groups to talk about their experience of being Catholic and share their questions and ideas with one another and with Bishop Hicks.

Bishop Hicks told the teenagers that he was standing in for Cardinal Cupich, who wanted to be there but was asked by Pope Francis to spend the month at the synod in Rome.

“He’s delighted that you are here, and he very much wants to give you his blessing,” Bishop Hicks said.

Carmel freshman Nora Junge, who attends St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Gurnee, said she came to listen to what other students had to say and maybe learn how to talk to her friends about her faith.

“I personally enjoy going to Mass, but a lot of kids don’t,” she said.

Carmel senior Tino Alivia, who attends St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich, is a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council, which organized the event.

“I think it’s important for young people to express our opinions,” Alivia said. “It’s important to shape what the church is, without changing the core values or mission.”

They were among a group of 10 Carmel students who came with theology teacher Jeff Ptacek. Another couple of Carmel students attended with their parishes, Ptacek said.

He and another teacher often run open sessions for students to ask questions about the faith at their school, so the Oct. 20 listening session seemed like a good opportunity to allow students to do the same thing.

“Any time we can get the leadership of the church and young people together it’s a good thing,” he said.

Bishop Hicks told the young people that the church needs them.

“You are a son of God, you are a daughter of God, and you are loved by him 100 percent with all your talents, all your flaws, all your good, all your bad, and this is a relationship that will last forever,” Bishop Hicks told the young people. “You are baptized. You are a child of God. You are part of this church.”

The mission of the church, he told them, is to help people know Christ so they can be saved. He compared the journey of faith to a train trip.

“How do I stay on the train? How do I invite other people on the train, and help them get to our ultimate destination, which is salvation?” he said.

That can be easier said than done for young people who sometimes feel they are the only ones of their age group in church, and the only church-goers among their peers.

Angel Mosqueda, 15, attended with a group from Mary Queen of Heaven Parish in Cicero.

“There’s definitely an element of curiosity here,” he said. “We’re living in a very secular time. We even have a lack of priests. So in this time, how do we know when we see God? How will we see God in our day?”

“I don’t want to say I don’t feel represented, but there are usually a lot of adults around me,” said Aiyannah Tusker, 16, a who attends Holy Angels Parish and is a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Youth Council. “What do I say to friends who are hostile to Catholicism and Christianity in general?”

Bishop Hicks acknowledged that young Catholics need opportunities — such as the listening session — to come together.

“You see you’re not alone,” he said.

Several young people said they have difficulty explaining church teaching to peers, especially when the teaching seems out of step with the times.

The most important thing, Bishop Hicks told them, is to rely on Jesus’ commandment to love God and to love their neighbors.

“My hope for you is that you not only know about God, but that you know God,” he said. “If someone invites you to do something for the church or for your neighbor or for the poor, look for ways to say yes instead of saying no, because it might just be the Holy Spirit inviting you.”

Topics:

  • youth
  • synod on young people

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