What youth need to stay "in" the church

Blog Published: December 4, 2018
By Sister Tarianne DeYonker

Tarianne DeYonker is a Dominican Sister of Adrian, Michigan. She has ministered as a teacher, administrator, public speaker, marriage and family therapist, and program developer. She also served as vicaress and general councilor for her congregation. She is currently beginning a ministry in Adrian in vocation work and also facilitates creative writing workshops.

The church that Jesus intended to be inclusive and grounded in love of God and each other is falling short of this ideal. Through the important voices of young people, the Spirit is calling us to our founding purpose as disciples of Jesus. We are being called to listen.

While young people don't have the experience in life that older members do, they do have wisdom to share. They shared it in the pre-synodal document they wrote and in the small group discussions with bishops during the Synod on Young People in October.

Young adults have grown up in a very different world. They long to connect with Jesus, church and with each other, as do the rest of us. They desire to belong and to be true to their values. Their questions are the same as many who've been members of the Christian community for a long time. Their challenges have the capacity to move us into a deeper relationship with God and one another. We need to listen closely. Their sincere searching deserves our accompaniment.

Clinging too tightly to all the ways of the past may cause us to miss possibilities the Spirit is offering the church in this moment. We can learn from young adults' experiences and help explore their questions. Jesus called disciples, taught them and knew they'd live in a variety of ways. As we listen to young peoples' questions, may we grasp those openings as teachable moments. Young people are calling for honest dialogue. Can we dare?

As Adrian Dominicans, we regularly engage with young adults, especially at our two universities: Barry in Miami Shores, Florida, and Siena Heights in Adrian, Michigan. We gather weekly with the Dominican young adults' group for planning and faith sharing, heartfelt prayer and community-building.

We go with them to our annual Dominican College preaching conferences, where students learn diverse ways to express our preaching charism through study of justice issues, the arts, service projects and having fun together. Students from both universities met for two weeks at our Adrian campus to work together on our permaculture site, learning how to preserve the gifts of Earth for current and future generations.

We're delighted to bring you this excerpt from the monthly feature "The Life" courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month, "The Life" asked the panelists: Teens and young adults are "leaving the Catholic Church," what would you have liked to say to the bishops attending last month's youth synod? Are there ways we can learn from Catholic youth experiences and communicate with them? What is your community doing? You can read the full article HERE.


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