Fratelli Tutti: Ministry “To The Fringes” (Part 1)
We’re looking at Pope Frances’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. We’ve been working through Chapter 3 ”Envisioning and Engendering an Open World.
In paragraph 98, Pope Francis writes about a topic that has become a hallmark of his pontificate. That is the idea of reaching out to people “on the fringes.” He writes:
I would like to mention some of those “hidden exiles” who are treated as foreign bodies in society. (For example), many persons with disabilities “feel that they exist without belonging and without participating.” Much still prevents them from being fully enfranchised. Our concern should be not only to care for them but to ensure their “active participation in the civil and ecclesial community.
This week I’ve been invited to participate in a discussion about young adults. This is a group that often feels disenfranchised. These are the young adults in our community. The first difficulty is to define what a “young adult is. There are people between 18 and 35 who are single. Some recently married but have no children. Then there are single parents. Some couples have one child. Some have several children.
The church focuses on families with children – a lot. Still, some young adults don’t fall into that category who feel ignored. I have seen this issue discussed in the church for several decades. In 2019 I attended a seminar sponsored by the Catholic Leadership Roundtable. in which ministry by – to – and for young adults was a key topic. They discussed topics such as Structures for Including Young Adults in Leadership Positions; Support for Emerging Catholic Leaders; Young Adult Formation and Leadership Development; Attention to Diversity and Inclusiveness; Pastoral Care for Young Adults at Key Transitional Moments (i.e. moving from college to parish or a new town); Research into the Issues of Young Adult Ministry. A summary of their discussion, findings and recommendations can be found in their final Report starting on page 20 here. Details on their recommendations can be found in here, starting at page 10. Concerning this topic, I was asked to give a presentation on the topic of Vibrant Catholic Young Adult Culture for the Univeristy of Penn Newman Center community. I drew much of the material for that presentation from the Leadership Summit.
One theme frequently heard was the complexity of this issue. Another theme was how hard it was to address this unique ministry and how long it took to see progress. This lines up with Pope Francis’ thoughts:
This is a demanding and even tiring process, yet one that will gradually contribute to the formation of consciences capable of acknowledging each individual as a unique and unrepeatable person.
I’ll continue this idea of the ministry to the fringes next week.