Ashleigh Green, a social worker at CatholicCare in the Diocese of Broken Bay, was the Australian Youth Delegate at the conference, ‘From Krakow to Panama: The Synod Journeying with Young People,’ held in Rome from April 5 to April 9. Ashleigh shared her hopes for the upcoming 2018 Synod on Youth.
The essence of Ashleigh’s engaging presentation on reaching youth was the truth of the faith and the importance of community.
Ashleigh shared how her work with severely dysfunctional families and individuals increases her desire to evangelise.
“How can we engage the 16-year-old Aboriginal girl living in a CatholicCare residential group home in Sydney? How can we engage the 20-year-old young mum who has spent her youth moving from foster home to foster home and now has a child of her own?” Ashleigh asked in the presentation.
The meeting was organised by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. 270 delegates attended from 103 countries.
Ashleigh disputed stereotypes regarding the youths she works with.
Many have “a great desire to be part of something greater” and “desire to be part of a community.” Ashleigh finds nourishment for her own faith in the Marist Youth community in Sydney.
“Despite the media perception that society has become more individualised and young people are becoming more self-focused, as humans, our dreams and identities can only be fully realised in community,” Ashleigh said.
“We will find them where we can: friends, music festivals, soup kitchens, university clubs and sporting teams.”
Ashleigh looks to her late Grandmother as an example of building community.
“When I think of my Grandmother, her community was her local parish which was located up the hill and around the corner from her house.
“Ever since she was a young woman she’d arrange the flowers for Sunday Mass, clean the Church, bake cakes for morning tea after Sunday morning Mass and participate in the life and spirit of the church,” Ashleigh said.
Ashleigh also shared her own faith journey with the assembly.
“I attended Catholic schools in Australia for eleven years and I was blessed to be presented with several opportunities, both at home and at school that made me aware of the presence of God in my life,” she said.
Ashleigh hopes others can have the same opportunity to nourish their faith.
Ashleigh has high hopes and lots of excitement for the upcoming Synod of Youth.
“The Saturday Vigil and Palm Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis were moments that I will never forget,” she wrote.
“The Pope wants to hear our voices! What is needed, Pope Francis said, are young people who walk, who go out on the street and ‘move forward beside others, but looking toward the future.’
“This is an exciting time to be a young person in the Church. I look forward, with anticipation, to continuing this Synod journey.”
With thanks to the ACBC.