Father Montelongo, J.C.L. (center), Director David Gibson (right), and Fordham students at an October dinner in Rome, Italy.
(Image credit: Augustine Preziosi)

More than a month has passed since my peers and I traversed the ancient roads of the Eternal City, witnessing the ​​first session of the global Catholic assembly known as the Synod on Synodality. Words cannot be written, let alone spoken, which justly express my gratitude for returning to Rome, a city that has shaped  much of my education since I was fourteen years old. We encountered many faces and places familiar to me, such as art historian Christina Mifsud of Loyola University Chicago, and the communities we prayed with, namely Sant’Egidio with whom I worked with for four months in Rome. It all made for a particularly emotional pilgrimage.

The Holy Spirit naturally manifested Itself in the unfamiliar as well. After the Synod let out on a Wednesday, midway through our trip, I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with a few of my classmates and Father Ivan Montelongo, J.C.L., the vocations director of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas. Due to the relational nature of his work, I asked him if he was keeping anyone from home in prayer and mind as he participated in the Synod. He spoke about holding the intentions of each of the young men he directs at the center of his prayer, an indication of his faithful commitment to them. His response also suggests, however, an understanding of the reality which the Synod seeks to embolden: that the future of the Church is in the hands of the youth. We are not static in our faith. Young people are on the move together, hand in hand, embracing what makes each of us spiritually distinctive with radical love. And, yes, while God’s relationship with each of us is wholly unique, we can relate to our neighbor through our reception of His boundless mercy. A love so strong that He let his own Son be crucified.

 As the Synod on Synodality presents a multitude of perspectives from our universal Church, and as our cohort brings the fruits of our time in Rome to bear at school and in our parishes, this question ought to be asked: In our daily lives, how can we exemplify the radical love of our Martyred King?

Preziosi, Augustine, "In the Eucharist broken and shared", 2023, fiber paper on canvas.
Augustine Preziosi, In the Eucharist Broken and Shared, 2023

My response, in our increasingly polarized world: we must provide every person space to be wrong. Whether it be in our Church or in secular political dialogue, how can an individual grow if they are not given room for reflection and reform? How can an individual grow if they are shrunken by commands, absolutes, and ultimatums? The Holy Father’s Synod on Synodality provides young people the chance to be heard and seen, while affording them the privilege to hear others’ lived faiths. It’s an exercise which cultivates patience, fairness, and respect. These are the underpinnings our Church seeks to repair, and love requires each of them. Love is what young people have to offer in the form of open ears, observant eyes, and extended hands. 

In the Spirit of the Synod and hearing the call to listen, let us not be reactionary! We must listen to all, no matter where they are on their journey of faith, or where we are, and celebrate the summit of our faith found in the Blessed Sacrament. By faithfully receiving the Sacraments and spending generous time in Adoration does one then come to realize the unity God intended for us. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NRSVCE).

Youth are the beating heart of our Church, as I witnessed at World Youth Day in Lisbon last summer, and we yearn to bring the justice of the Gospels to all corners of the Earth. May God grant us patience, fairness, and respect so that we may exemplify His love through our shared witness to the Word. 

Augustine Preziosi is double-Majoring in Religious Studies and Theology and minoring in Philosophy (FCRH '23).