Auckland diocese Youth and Young Adult Ministry team leader Teresa McNamara and Isabella McCafferty from Wellington archdiocese’s Family and Young Church Vicariate have been chosen as delegates to an international meeting in Rome from April 5-9.
The meeting is being organised by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
The theme of the meeting will be “From Krakow to Panama-The Synod Journeying with Young People”.
A letter signed by dicastery Prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Synod of Bishops secretary–general Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said “the meeting will be a special opportunity to make a contribution to preparations for the next synod of bishops”.
According to a Vatican press release in January, “on this occasion, the [Synod] Preparatory Document and the dynamic of consultation in the particular Churches will be presented to the heads of youth pastoral care of the episcopal conferences”.
There will be a brief assessment of the World Youth Day Krakow 2016 on the first day of the meeting and a presentation on the preparations for World Youth Day Panama 2018 on April 8.
On April 9, Palm Sunday, the WYD cross and icon will be turned over by the Krakow youth to the Panamanian youth at a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.
Ms McNamara said to be present at this Mass will be amazing.
“Internationally, Palm Sunday is recognised as World Youth Day each year. So, it’s a very significant day in our Church calendar for us who are ministering to young people,” she said.
Both delegates said they were incredibly excited about the opportunity.
Ms McCafferty said it was “an immense privilege”.
“I am very grateful to the New Zealand bishops for this chance to expand my experience of the universal Church and for the impact that this opportunity will have on my long term ministry,” she added.
Ms McCafferty said she will be able to bring both her experiences as a young person in a widely diverse Church as well as a worker in the youth ministry.
“My key intention is to listen. I hope to return to New Zealand with a clear idea of how the New Zealand Church can begin to engage with the ongoing preparations for the synod of bishops.
“It is my desire to be able to reflect deeply on what is said during the meeting, on conversations I may have and on what is being asked of the universal Church; in the hope that this will be a life-giving process for the local Church and its people,” she said.
Ms McNamara said there will be a lot to look forward to in the meeting.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to hear firsthand what’s planned (in Panama) and to meet other people who are in similar roles to me from other countries is going to be huge,” she said.
But beyond the meeting in Rome, she said, “[in the next five to ten years] there’s a real opportunity for us to look at how young people identify and claim a place in the world today and how they use their Catholic faith as a lens for living life.”
The theme of the 15th general assembly of the synod of bishops in October, 2018 is “young people, faith and vocational discernment”.