The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) selected three young adults last Thursday to attend a pre-synodal meeting in Rome before the 2018 Youth Synod in October, including the University of Dallas’s director of campus ministry and alumnus Nick López BA ’12, MTS ‘16 and alumna Katie Prejean McGrady, BA ’11.
López is also a guest columnist for Catholic News Service, writing the In Light of Faith column about the millennial generation.
“Each of the delegates will not only bring their own stories and their own perspectives to Rome, but because each of them works with other young people – in the parish, on the campus, in the classroom, and elsewhere – they will be able to share those insights as well,” Paul Jarzembowski, assistant director of youth and young adult ministries of the USCCB, said in an email.
López received the call in December that he would be part of the process to engage with the youth.
“I was very, very overjoyed with the invitation,” he said.
López, who became involved in ministry when he came to UD to study theology, felt overwhelmed, especially since there were many other great candidates in the Dallas diocese who excel at ministry for young adults, he said.
“I felt in many ways unworthy, but all at the same time feeling like this is a call from the Lord,” he said. “And no matter if I feel equipped or not, a call from the Lord needs to be answered eventually.”
López will focus on new ways of reaching out to young Catholics, along with offering a perspective from the Hispanic community.
“I think that the new evangelization is going to be shaped in many ways by popular culture and I think that there are very, very wrong ways to incorporate popular culture into evangelization,” López said.
The key is to find out what works, and López referenced Bishop Robert Barron’s outreach on social media as an example.
“We need to find a responsible way to address how we best incorporate the Gospel through that,” López said.
This is important because of declining church attendance in the United States.
“The trends don’t seem to be stopping when it comes to Christians among all denominations who are leaving the faith,” López said.
To López, there is a possibility for that to change caused by a new movement of young Catholics desiring to immerse themselves in authentic Catholicism.
“We really do feel there is a small spark of a renaissance among the Catholics, at least in America,” he said. “I think our generation is really noticing that and trying to take a hold of our authentic Catholic call.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, was invited by the Vatican to send three delegates, which prompted him and the conference to search for the individuals.
“After a period of consultation, prayer, and discernment, the three candidates were passed along to Cardinal DiNardo, who affirmed them and sent their names to Rome,” Jarzembowski said.
The fact that the candidates have experience with youth makes them especially essential guests to the synod, according to Jarzembowski.
“And because they are listeners, I hope that the three of them also take the time to listen to what young adults from other countries and cultures have to say – and to the experience of the universal Church,” he said. “When they come back, they will be able to share those stories as well and begin the process that this synod hopes to accomplish: to renew the Church by engaging more intentionally [with] the youth and young adults in our midst.”
The results of the discussion at the synod have the potential to spread globally.
“We anticipate a post-synodal apostolic exhortation from the Pope in the months following the Synod, which will provide a global framework for engaging youth and young adults and accompanying them along their vocational pathways,” Jarzembowski said.
The pre-synod meeting will occur from March 19 to 25.