Beginning in February 2016, the Diocese of Gary began a Synod process to discern how the Holy Spirit was guiding the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Gary. Bishop Donald Hying formally introduced the Synod with a pastoral letter, where he identified eight ecclesial areas of our faith which were “defining principles of our central mission and varied activity.” One of those ecclesial areas, was Young Catholics. As Bishop Hying wrote, “Anytime I talk with Catholics about what should be our top priority as the Church, the immediate answer is “our young people.” Everyone recognizes the goodness, gifts and blessing that the young are for us. They are our greatest treasure and our hope for the future. Youth is the time of life when we solidify our beliefs and values, mature in wisdom and grace, discern and prepare for our vocation in the Church and the world.”  As the Synod process began, parish members gathered together to discuss the needs of young people in their local community. Parish representatives then discussed with others in their deaneries what they heard. Thousands of comments and suggestions were compiled and prayed over. On June 3, 2017, priests, religious sisters, parish and school representatives, and invited young people gathered for the final Synod day. After some discussion, those gathered discerned and voted on the top needs for each of the ecclesial areas.

For Young Catholics, the three top Synod initiatives were:

  1. Provide young Catholics with opportunities to gather and experience the richness of the Catholic Church and her teachings at the parish, regional, and diocesan levels. (34%)
  2. Develop collaborative strategies for youth and young adult ministries that allow youth to experience the faith beyond the parish boundaries, including events and ministries that are shared-parish, deanery, regional, diocesan, national, or international. (15%)
  3. Develop intentional ministry strategies that animate and inspire confirmed high school teens and young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. (13%)

Throughout the process, it also became clear that the local Church recognized that young Catholics should be recognized in all parts of our faith experience.  In almost ever other ecclesial area, young Catholics were mentioned in their top three initiatives.

  • Discipleship/Formation
    1. Establish opportunities for families, adolescents, and young adults to get involved in service
    projects that fulfill their mission as disciples but also benefit others and our communities. (23%)
    2. Create post-Confirmation opportunities for teens and young adults to continue their faith
    journey and remain active in the Catholic Church. (18%)
  • Evangelization
    2. Make the Catholic faith more relevant for youth by creating engaging faith activities and
    contemporary events in which they can participate. (12%)
  • Marriage and Family
    1. Foster a community of Catholic families throughout the diocese and equip these families to live
    Christ-centered lives through events, programming, and online resources.* (31%)
    * included in light of Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth initiative
  • Sacraments, Prayer and Worship
    1. Responding to their baptismal call, parents are called upon to be primary teachers of the faith
    to their children. They have the principal duty and responsibility of bringing up their children in the
    Catholic faith. Emphasize the role of parents in their children’s formation and growth in the faith by
    instilling in them that faith formation is a family affair.* (24%)
    * included in light of Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth initiative
    2. In light of their baptismal calling, encourage youth and adults toward full, conscious, and active
    participation in the Mass. (11%)
  • Social Teaching
    3. Engage families, adults, and youth to be active parishioners within each parish community by
    providing programs for them to join that align their passions and make a positive impact on their
    neighbors. (7%)
  • Vocations and Leadership Formation
    2. Educate and inspire youth on discipleship, and they will understand and appreciate the
    different vocations. (23%)

After the Synod event in June, 2017, parishes were tasked to take a look at those initiatives and select at least three ecclesial areas to develop unique parish goals. About 20 parishes selected Young Catholics as one of their three goals, but many others identified how young people should be included in other areas.

The Diocese also created ecclesial commissions to help pray for and assist parishes as they develop and implement their goals. The Young Catholic Ecclesial Commission is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who have strong backgrounds of youth and young adult ministries. The Young Catholic Ecclesial Commission is ready to talk with parish synod teams and other ministries as they serve the Young Catholics in their communities. Parishes who have not immediately identified Young Catholics as a Synod goal can also reach out to the Young Catholics Commission.  For more information to to request support, please email