BY Amanda Connelly | August 2 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

charis mcrossan pope francis1

Papal meeting is highlight of youth forum for young Catholic woman

A young Dunkeld Catholic had the privilege of meeting Pope Francis last month as she proudly represented Scotland at an international Catholic conference.

Charis McCrosson was selected as one of two delegates by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, and as a representative of the Scottish Catholic Youth Service, to represent the country at the 11th International Youth Forum in Rome.

Hosted by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Miss McCrosson and Ciaran McGonigle took part in the forum in Sassone di Ciampino from June 19-22, which followed the theme of ‘youth in action in a synodal Church.’

While at the forum, she had the opportunity to meet with the Holy Father, and the two smiled and embraced.

The audience with the Pope came at the conclusion of the forum during a trip to the Vatican for Mass at St Peter’s Basilica.

Church’s need for youth

It was there that the Pope thanked the delegates and left them with the reminder that ‘the Church needs [young people] so that she can be fully herself,’ taking time to greet each of them individually.

“Meeting the Pope has to be one of the greatest experiences of my life so far,” Miss McCrosson said. “It was the perfect end to a very intense and fruitful week, and I was touched by his desire to meet all of us.

“He asked us to be informal, so many of us greeted him with a hug.

“He is truly a father of the Church, and I believe he would embrace everyone in the world if he could—just as Jesus does.”

Special delegates

Miss McCrosson and Mr McGonigle were two of the 250 international delegates present from over 100 countries and 40 organisations, discussing October 2018’s youth synod and the apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit over three days.

“It was striking how similar many of our situations were,” said Miss McCrosson, as the delegates discussed their own experiences and thoughts on youth pastoral ministry and proposed ways forward for the Church.

“Countries across the world are facing the same struggles with communication and lack of support between clergy and laity, with lack of engagement of the young people they serve, and with access to resources or venues. It was encouraging to know that we are not alone on our journey.”

Invaluable experience

Miss McCrosson said that the experience had been ‘invaluable’ and spoke of her hope that it would bring about a positive impact for Scotland.

“This week has been a wonderful experience and moment of formation for me,” she said. “To be surrounded by young youth ministers from all over the world and to hear their thoughts, their struggles and their hopes was incredibly inspiring.

“To have received encouragement and advice from those much more experienced in youth ministry than I has been invaluable.”

The three-day event looked at a number of different areas, and those present heard from a number of different speakers.

Synod elements

The first day focused on ‘the synodal journey and its impact at the local Church level,’ with young auditors giving an insight into their experience, outlining three elements they felt best described the synod: listening, discernment and spirituality.

The second day looked more closely at Christus Vivit, with a particular focus on chapter four of the exhortation: ‘a great message for all young people.’

The final day of the conference saw the delegates explore the theme of ‘youth in action in a synodal Church: our contribution,’ hearing from Fr Rossano Sala, special secretary at the synod on youth, and Fr Alexandre Awi Mello, secretary for the dicastery, on the importance of vocations, discernment, and accompaniment of young people.

Universal Church

“What struck me most about the whole experience was how remarkable and what a true reflection of the ‘universal Church’ it was to see all these people gathered together and in communion with one another, regardless of political situations in their countries, past or current conflicts,” Miss McCrosson said.

“There were no majorities or minorities —it felt like we were all the same.

“This is how God intended us to be, and it exemplifies the Pope’s message: we are one in Christ; we are the Church.

“I hope that the fruits of this forum will flourish and that we will see a positive impact on our Church in Scotland.

“I ask for prayer for all of us who are dedicated to this mission.”

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