The Young Adult Synod Listening Session held on Tuesday, June 14, at St. Pius X Church in Loudon­ville. (Emily Benson photo)
The Young Adult Synod Listening Session held on Tuesday, June 14, at St. Pius X Church in Loudon­ville. (Emily Benson photo)
Although the latest Diocesan Synod Listening Session wasn’t a party, per se, it felt that way when you walked into the room. The conversations had a light, airy feel as young adults shared stories about their day and jobs, but also about their faith and experiences as Catholics.

The Young Adult Synod Listening Session held on Tuesday, June 14, at St. Pius X Church in Loudon­ville, was one of the final diocesan sessions held before the next step in the synodal process when the Diocese submits a summary of the listening sessions to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The last remaining listening session is scheduled for the Adirondack Vicariate on Tuesday, June 28, at Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury.

But last is certainly not least: throughout the Synod Listening Sessions, that have been ongoing since April, one of the most common themes brought up by attendees was the hope to engage the youth and establish a better community for young adults within the Catholic Church.

And young adults feel the same.

“Being a young adult myself, it was so nice to see so many others passionate about coming together and speaking what’s on their hearts and their minds,” said Caitie Levine, coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Spa, Immaculate Conception in Glenville and St. Joseph’s in Scotia. “As I was walking through, I would catch snippets of what groups were saying and they were saying the same things.”

Attendees expressed a desire for that close-knit community feeling in their churches, with a focus on Christ and the Catholic faith.

“I think the first thing I heard was a tremendous compliment, that we can shape the world through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the main ballgame,” said Father Robert Longobucco, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Schenectady, and vicar general and moderator of the Curia in the Diocese.

Attendees also expressed grievances with their faith formation upbringing, another common theme mentioned in past synod sessions. “Faith formation was a generational lack for some people,” one group member shared. “You go home and have questions but even your parents can’t answer them because they weren’t catechized properly.”

Groups highlighted the importance of their church community for them, but also the lack of that community after Confirmation. “There seems to be a drop-off and that early young adult age can be difficult. Having to find your own faith community is a lot harder,” one member shared.

A number of young adult ministries in the Diocese have been started in recent years to fill this need, including Holy Hour & Happy Hour, Real Talk Rosary and Good News and Cold Brews.

Other young adults expressed hope that Holy Hours, confessions and Eucharistic Adorations, many of which take place during the day and during work hours at many parishes, could be made more readily available outside of 9-to-5 work hours.

Deacon Marty Dinan, of St. Pius X Church, said he was inspired by what each group was sharing: “It’s very, very inspiring,” he said, “especially bringing up (a desire for) Adoration — not by just one group — that was very inspiring.”

St. Pius X, which houses a large young adult population, is hoping to be a place for young adult Catholics to fill those community and sacramental desires. On Friday, June 24, Dinan will lead a Young Adult Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7 p.m. and is hoping to offer more events going forward.

“Young adults may be a separate population but we’re not broken off or separate from the Church,” Levine said. “Once we’re done with the listening sessions, ‘What’s next?’ has been my big thing. And on our parish and diocesan level, I hope that these actions come through.”