“CHRIST IS ALIVE! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world.”
These are the first words of Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation to young people and the entire people of God that emerged from the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
However, at 299 paragraphs and over 34,000 words, it is a lot to digest for a young person wanting to grow more in their faith.
A new audio series developed by the Diocese of Parramatta’s youth ministry office Catholic Youth Parramatta dives into the Pope’s message, but also inspires young people to discover that, as the Pope explains, “Christ is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you.”
James Camden, Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP) told Catholic Outlook, “there is an incredible richness in Pope Francis’ words, and it’s clear that the voice and concerns of young people are very much present in Christus Vivit.
“We came up with the idea to create audio recordings of each chapter so that young people could listen to the document whilst on public transport, exercising or even cooking dinner.
“We wanted local voices to bring the Holy Father’s words to life. This speaks to the Pope’s desire for the document to be meaningful and challenging at a local grassroots level,” he said.
For nine weeks, beginning 9 August, a chapter of the exhortation, read by a young person of the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, will be released on the CYP website and through their Spotify and Soundcloud channels.
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Kellyville youth leader Anastasia Boulus, explained that through narrating her chapter entitled ‘youth ministry’, she understood how “in touch” Pope Francis is.
“He talks about things which are so practical and relevant to youth ministry and young people.
“He makes direct and clear suggestions on how to overcome ministry challenges including what things need to be focussed on, nourished or developed to improve and get the best, most fruitful results.
“Through guidance in prayer and reflection, I hope young people understand the impact and power of simply ‘being present’, not only to Jesus but to the lives of other young people,” Anastasia said.
What stuck with narrator Julia Hoban, from the Diocese’s newest faith community of St Luke’s, Marsden Park, was the Pope’s emphasis to young people to not be discouraged by their youth.
“Sometimes it can be difficult, as a young person, to feel like you can contribute to your local church. These words from Pope Francis feel like commissioning young people to do just that.
“We need to dream big and then act on those dreams for the betterment of the Church. We are not just the future of the Church we need to start working on that future now.”
Reflecting on her chapter, ‘Discernment’, Henanita Fatu Harrop, a teacher at Xavier College, Llandilo, hopes that young people using the Christus Vivit resource are “open to the presence of Christ in your lives, so that you have the courage to discern the life God has planned for you.”
CYP’s Local Engagement Leader Qwayne Guevara hopes the resource will give young people a different opportunity to encounter Christ.
“Christus Vivit reclaims the hope in youth ministry and provides us with a real opportunity as a church to accompany young people in faith.
“The document highlights Christ inviting us as a church to make His message known and appeal to young people, and making young people feel welcomed.”
Episodes of Catholic Youth Parramatta’s Christus Vivit podcast series will be published every Monday on their Spotify and Soundcloud channels, with reflection questions to be posted on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
To download the reflection questions, and to read the full exhortation, visit www.parracatholic.org/christus-vivit