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By Fr Renato De Guzman, SDB

Rome, Italy, 15 October 2018 -- Among the 16 Salesians present in the 2018 Synod is also Fr Renato De Guzman (aka Degz) who is assigned as one of the assistants to the two Special Secretaries of the Synod 2018. At the beginning of the third week we can understand the spirit, the highlights and Salesian spirit in the Synod from his sharing:


Almost halfway through its work schedule, the Synod on Youth concluded its reflections on the youth situation and on vocational discernment and accompaniment, the first two parts of the Working Document. The Synod Fathers experienced 10 days of active listening as they and the youth auditors gave more than 200 interventions on the 136 articles of the first and second parts of the Working Document: these were 4 minutes each, and briefly also during the open discussions at the last hour of the day.

Pope Francis introduced a procedure to highlight “active and prayerful listening.” He made the assembly pause for 3 minutes of personal silent reflection after every 5 interventions. This is a wise practice that our provincial chapters may adopt!

To help Fr. Rosanno Sala, SDB and Fr. Giacomo Costa, SJ, heads of the Special Secretariat, grapple with the interventions given at the General Congregation and those that resulted from the 14 language groups, the 23 collaborators of the Special Secretariat were to submit their synthesis.


1. Listening: a theological matter

Pope Francis mentioned the need to listen in his homily at the Opening Mass of the Synod. Indeed listening was the prevailing disposition in the Synod. Then Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, gave an interesting insight on “listening" in his intervention. For the Church, for her mission especially for the youth, listening is not only a pedagogical / methodological but theological approach. “God speaks but also listens especially to the poor and the weak.” All of us are called to listen the way God does. Pope Francis, during the free discussion in the evening, affirmed this insight of Cardinal Tagle.

2. Youth as a “locus theologicus”

This idea came from Bishop Eduardo Horacio García, Bishop of San Justo, Argentina. Considering youth as a source for theology means that with the youth and through the youth we can encounter the word of God more meaningfully, as God is in them, God listens and speaks to them. Both the Incarnation and Emmaus events attest to this. The Church needs to tap the right chord in the heart of the youth as they are a ‘locus theologicus’. This means that in relation to youth the Church must undergo a pastoral conversion in ministering to them, a pastoral conversion that requires drastically giving up what is already obsolete and allowing new ways of youth ministry.

3. Accompaniment as being present in the life of the young

This intervention came from Luc Van Looy, SDB, Bishop of Ghent, Belgium. He highlighted that accompanying the young means being present in their lives at all times. It means to get the Christian community interested in the young. Everyone in the community - in school, in the institution, or parish - will have a feeling about the young who are being accompanied. It means listening to the young, with open doors and hearts, with a keen and concrete interest; and being present in informal moments, understanding tensions and challenges, and in defeats, always encouraging and giving them hope. It sounds like Salesian assistance! After his sharing quite a few participants gave thanks for the Salesian presence in the Church.


There is a lot of listening to each other, especially to the youth auditors in the Synod Hall, in the rooms of the break-up groups and during the morning break. From time to time our ears were not only attuned to the insights of the Synod Fathers and their experiences in their local churches but also to the jokes and funny incidents in the Hall, especially when Cardinal Sako from Iraq presided over the general assembly.

Everyone - the Pope, Synod Fathers, the youth and those assisting in the running of the Synod, made each other feel at home. Pope Francis would mingle with everyone during the morning break. He would be present in the lobby almost half an hour early before the afternoon session and personally greet those were arriving. Once, instead of entering the hall by the front door, he used the back door and greeted the youth auditors. He is truly fatherly and approachable.

On Tuesday, 16 October, in the 12th General Assembly, the Synod Fathers will start their reflection on the 3rd Part of the Working Document - “Choosing: Paths of Pastoral and Missionary Conversion." Let's accompany the Synod in our interest and prayers!

Full text of the sharing on BOSCOLINK: Synod 2018 and SDB General Chapter 28







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