Synod reflections

WelCom September 2022 Two young people share insights from their involvement in the diocesan phase of the Synod 2021–2023.  When I heard about the 2021–2023 Synod I was excited to contribute,…

WelCom September 2022

Claudia Chan (far right) a student from New Plymouth with other young participants at the Diocese of Palmerston North hui in May. Photo: WelCom

Two young people share insights from their involvement in the diocesan phase of the Synod 2021–2023. 

When I heard about the 2021–2023 Synod I was excited to contribute, although many young people did not share my enthusiasm and didn’t care. But as a school leader it was my job to collate youth voices. 

Taking part in the first stages was difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, through the internet I was able to participate in the session at my school, and organise a synod Zoom call with the leaders of four other schools from the Palmerston North diocese. There was much call for change as many young people don’t feel Church is a place to belong to. Several said there was need for greater inclusion of everyone, such as LGBTQ+, and they had an appreciation for other types of gatherings such as youth groups and Bible studies. 

When I was invited to the Palmerston North diocese hui and the National Synod hui, I wanted to share what I had heard about the Church in New Zealand. But it was discouraging to be one of only a handful of youth representatives. Youth voices were sought during the Synod consultation and those of us who did participate wouldn’t have represented the spectrum of young opinions. 

The hui were welcoming and I felt free to share my thoughts. The submissions and diocesan synthesis documents were interesting to read and to discuss with all sorts of people. 

The ideas had a common thread – we need to make a change and ‘burn the bush to let the new seeds grow’. There is much to do as a Church and as young people to travel together with God. 

– Claudia Chan, Special Character Leader, Sacred Heart Girls College New Plymouth. 

As a member of the Synod team for the Wellington archdiocese I have been involved through reading submissions, attending the archdiocesan synodal gathering in April, and contributing and hearing from others. I have observed a concern for youth to engage more fully and confusion about how to help that happen.

As a young person and a youth minister, I was glad to hear people want to invest in us. They notice when we aren’t there, they want to build a relationship with us and create a welcoming place, but don’t seem to know how.

When I reflected on my experience in the Church and what contributed to my journey of leaving, I didn’t understand the Mass – it felt foreign and I became disengaged. I didn’t have a community of people helping me build my faith. When Church became boring, or better options came up, there was nothing holding me close to Christ and it became easy to slip away.

Then, when I came into a youth group and a faith community who invested in me and my relationship with God, my faith changed and grew as did my excitement for Mass, the Sacraments and discovery of Jesus’ love. I often hear we need to create a church full of great speakers, lights and music to attract young people. But, from my experience, and that of other young people, it is a sense of community, Mass as a welcoming place, and understanding our faith that keeps us connected.

– Louise Lloyd, Archdiocesan Young Church Co-ordinator.