Synod invites young adults’ opinions on their participation in the Church 

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Young adults who gathered at the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s Fleming Center on Feb. 2, participated in a listening session as part of the Diocese of Nashville’s Synod on Synodality. The session was facilitated by the diocese’s co-contacts for the synod, Dr. Brad Peper, pictured, director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, and Erin Stracener, director of the diocesan Tribunal. Photo by Andy Telli

A group of young adults gathered in the Fleming Center of the Cathedral of the Incarnation on Wednesday, Feb. 2, to consider the future of the Catholic Church. 

The Theology on Tap event sponsored by the Cathedral’s ministry for young adults and the University Catholic campus ministry was a listening session as part of the Diocese of Nashville’s Synod on Synodality. 

The group was asked to consider questions such as:  

  • What would help increase your desire to participate in the life of the Church? 
  • What would help young adults participate more in the life of the Church? 
  • How can the Church further her mission of evangelization? 

The listening session was one of many that will be held in the coming months at churches around the diocese as well as with other groups. The discussions are part of a two-year process that will culminate in the Synod of Bishops on Synodality to be held at the Vatican in October 2023. 

Pope Francis called for a process that invites the entire People of God to engage in mutual dialogue and authentic listening to foster the Church’s communion, participation and mission. 

The synod is designed to gather as many voices from different groups of people, both inside and outside the Church, to discuss, while being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how the Church can live out its mission, said Dr. Brad Peper, the director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation and a co-contact for the synod with Erin Stracener, director of the diocesan Tribunal. 

The three main themes of the listening sessions are mission, participation and communion. The responses at the listening sessions will be collected and used as the basis of a synthesis that will be prepared by Stracener and Peper. The synthesis will be forwarded to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with the syntheses from all U.S. dioceses, to be considered before the synod at the Vatican in 2023. 

“This is your chance to be heard,” Stracener told the gathering. 

Among the points raised during the session were a desire for more intellectually challenging formation programs, access to the sacraments and prayer groups that are more convenient for young adults, and programs that help people build their personal relationship with Christ and with others. 

Joseph DiPaolo, who is active in the Cathedral’s young adult ministry, participated in the listening session. He came to Nashville five years ago as a FOCUS missionary working with the University Catholic campus ministry.  

In his work with FOCUS and in young adult ministry, he and others have been wrestling with many of the same questions as those posed during the session, he said. 

“I think it’s good that we’re engaging young people,” DiPaolo said. “We feel honored that the Church leadership wants our opinion.” 

After listening to the points raised by the group, DiPaolo said, “There seemed to be two schools of thought. We want to be challenged and thinking harder, and we want to be welcomed and be a part of things.” 

And the Church can do both, he said. 

“It went very well,” Stracener said of the listening session. “I was very impressed with their openness and feedback. They were engaged.” 

“The points they raised were not only helpful for our synthesis report but for things we can enact in the diocese to better foster growth for young adults in the Church,” Peper said. 

People have several ways to participate in the synod. They can attend a listening session held in their parish, and they can complete an online survey available at People can also visit the website to learn more about the synod and synodality. The information on the website is available in both English and Spanish. 

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