St Helens invited to speak at the Vatican

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A St Helens woman has travelled to Rome to present her ideas at a Vatican seminar on young people.

Sarah Burrows, 26, was invited to attend the international seminar in preparation for a 2018 conference – known as a Synod - on ‘Youth, faith and vocational discernment’.

The Synod, established as an annual event by Pope Paul VI in 1965, is an assembly of bishops from around the world who assist the Pope by providing counsel on important questions facing the Church.

This year the Synod will consider the position of young people both in the church and around the world.

Academics, experts and 20 young people from all over the world took part in the week-long preparation event, sharing ideas and feeding into discussions about young people today.

Topics covered included migration and technology, with Sarah bringing a faith and development perspective gained from her work in the education team at the Catholic aid agency CAFOD.

In the discussion groups, Sarah was able to share stories of the young people who volunteer for CAFOD in the UK, as well as those who are benefiting from CAFOD’s work overseas.

The seminar’s findings will feed into the Synod process, which will take place in October 2018.

Sarah said: “This is the first time in history that young people have ever been invited to be part of the Synod.

“It’s really exciting that Pope Francis wants to hear from young people and that he’s encouraging dialogue between generations.

“Young people are not just the future of the Church, they are the Church and they’ve got so much to offer. They’ve got the passion, energy and creativity that can continue to keep the Church alive and flourishing.

“I hope that the rest of the Synod process is an inclusive one, which involves all young people from across the world, and which has joy at the heart of it.”

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who led the seminar, said of the young people who attended: “Your presence has been essential. You have stimulated us, involved us so that we might have a young spirit.”

He went on to add that “you have given us your witness, your creativity. We have realised…we have to listen to you more.”

Find out more about CAFOD’s work at www.cafod.org.uk/schools