2019 Youth Synod at Feehan – “Let Your Voice be Heard”
Held January 29-30, with Bishop Mark Hagemoen: a local reflection of the Youth Synod at the Vatican
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A Youth Synod held Jan. 29-30 at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon was a local reflection of the Youth Synod held at the Vatican a few months before.
The two-day event offered some 40 young people time to prayerfully explore what youth are experiencing today, and the impact of that experience on their spirit, faith and life. The Youth Synod for students in Grades 9-12 (with a special focus for those in Grades 10 and 11) was led by E.D. Feehan student leadership team.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen attended the event at the Saskatoon high school, which consisted of talks, testimonies, listening sessions and prayer opportunities.
Small groups reflected on themes such as: deepest needs, hope, experiencing God’s love, how is God calling, reconciliation and forgiveness – and how the Church can be an authentic place for youth to seek and find God.
Diocesan coordinator of Youth Ministry, Colm Leyne, described the day as an opportunity for youth to have their voice heard. Bishop Mark Hagemoen and other leaders ministering to youth were there to listen to and empower youth as they listened, expressed and responded to God’s call, Leyne noted.
“To me the greatest gift was the opportunity it gave to the young people to speak their hearts and be authentically heard,” said Leyne.
Ryan LeBlanc, Catholic Studies Department Head at E.D. Feehan High School and an organizer of the Youth Synod, stressed the importance of youth leadership to the success of the event.
“This happened because God acted in the hearts of youth and youth responded. Our experience of this unprecedented event could provide much wisdom in discerning future engagements between the young Church and ministry,” said LeBlanc.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen noted “the remarkable openness and appropriate transparency” of the young participants. “My experience of the reflections and sharing was that the students were willing to talk about ‘real issues’ that affect their lives, including struggles and hopes. I thought that they showed remarkable insight,” he said.
“What became clear was that our students struggle with serious issues, including mental health and depression; addictions; family struggles; ‘body image’, self-shaming and self-confidence; (and) finding hope in our world today.”
The bishop also said he appreciated how the participants referred to the Church as “we” and “us.”
“I left the Synod humbled by the willingness of the students to risk and trust, to share hopes and dreams along with pain and struggles, and to commit to personal goals as a community of people who journey together,” said Bishop Hagemoen.
A day for young people, designed and facilitated by young people
Encouraged by the Ordinary Synod of Bishops On Youth, Faith and Discernment held in October at the Vatican, and in the spirit of World Youth Day which represents such confidence and hope in the Young Church, the event was promoted as a way for youth to have their voice heard.
The intentions of the Youth Synod @ E.D. Feehan included:
- To express and communicate the most pressing spiritual hopes and concerns that youth face today.
- To discern and receive what the voice of God is saying in the hearts of youth in this time and place.
- To activate key opportunities available for youth to live out their deepest beliefs, desires and choices with the support of local parishes, schools and other community groups.