The Catholic Partnership Summit creates a space for Catholic leaders to address the most pressing Church leadership and management challenges and opportunities. 


This year’s theme is “Expanding the Tent: Young Adult Leadership and Co-Responsibility in the Catholic Church.” For leaders of the Church, young adults are top of mind in nearly every sector — it is a matter of deep concern for bishops and pastors, as well religious brothers and sisters, and leaders of Catholic organizations. Of all the issues facing the Church, young adult leadership is one of the few that is galvanizing, that unites Catholics across divides. As we consider the future of the Church, there is concern for the pipeline of leadership, for formation of emerging lay leaders to serve in critical roles. There is concern for recruitment and retention, specifically of young adults to leadership positions, and for developing a culture that has a diversity of thought, representation, and action. Young adults are not an addendum to the leadership of the Church they must be afforded a central role.


Significant overarching themes: 

  • Belonging
  • Trust
  • Mental health and its impact on young adults 
  • Mentorship and formation — pipeline of leadership, recruitment, and retention
  • Lived faith experiences


For each of the four sessions, you will find a description of the session, resources for pre-reading and recommendations for action. These recommendations represent a sample of the best practices available to our Church. We offer them to aid the discussion during the Summit, as well as in your local faith communities. Participants will be invited to lift up actionable recommendations that will support living synodal leadership. Leadership Roundtable will gather the top recommendations into a report that will be shared with the wider Church to advance the conversation.

Guiding Principles

Leadership Roundtable developed the following guiding principles for any recommendations that are considered. These recommendations should:

  1. Impact the Catholic Church based on three principles: accountability, transparency, and co-responsibility
  2. Shape the leadership and management culture of the Church, in line with Catholic beliefs, ecclesiology, and canon law
  3. Restore trust in the Church based on measurable, visible outcomes
  4. Engage both ordained and lay Catholics, working together for the mission
  5. Lean forward into new possibilities
  6. Be realistic and able to be translated into practical strategy and implementation.

A Listening Church

“A synodal Church needs to be a listening Church and this commitment has to be translated into practice.” — “A Synodal Church In Mission,” General Assembly of The Synod of Bishops First Session Synthesis Report.


Four ways the Catholic Church can actually listen more to young people

by The Editors. America Media, August 9, 2023

Off the heels of World Youth Day and in anticipation of the General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality, this article provides suggestions of how the Church can listen better to and properly accompany young people.


Young Adults in a Synodal Church

The Synod on Synodality has elevated and made space for young adult voices, their experiences, what they care about, and their role in the Church — more than ever before. The Synod is bringing to fruition the vision and aims of previous movements, which were the foundation for synodality. 

This Keynote will highlight the connections between prior movements, such as the Synod on Youth in 2018, and the ongoing Synod on Synodality to provide important context for the unprecedented moment before the Church to accompany, mentor, and form young adults for leadership, while creating a synodal Church where everyone can belong.



The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

    • Actively create opportunities for deep listening and spaces for quiet and silence.
    • Intentionally seek to foster relationships with people who hold different perspectives and come from different backgrounds.
    • Offer formation for leaders in silence, listening, and discernment, as well as opportunities to practice both.
    • Set a benchmark to include young adults at parish, diocesan, and organizational decision-making tables.


Today’s Catholic Young Adults: Engaged. Diverse. Questioning. Caring. Passionate.

There are many misconceptions about young adults today and their relationship to the Church. While topics such as perceived disaffiliation and concerns for younger generations’ future involvement in the Church often sit top of mind, there is so much more to the story. Young adults are, in many places, already vibrant members of our faith communities and a great source of both tapped and untapped leadership potential for the Church. This panel will look at: 

  • the landscape of where young adults are in relation to the Church
  • the diversity of ways they live their spiritual lives, uniting the richness of communities and cultures
  • where and how they relate to the Church, and in particular Church leadership

the importance of speaking openly about, supporting, and addressing mental health.



The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

  • Acknowledge the lived faith experience for young adults, seek to understand the barriers for their participation, and together take action to address those barriers. 
  • Adapt ministries to align with the breadth of today’s young adult vocational paths.
  • Create spaces for intergenerational dialogue and accompaniment.
  • Create and normalize pastoral ministries that address mental health challenges including isolation, loneliness, and others.
  • Reform leadership structures to include young adults and build a sustainable leadership pipeline to retain them. 
  • Learn from the V Encuentro process, how it engages young people, and work to implement its successful synodal model.


The Church We Want to Be: An authentic place for all to belong

Taking a deeper dive into belonging, trust, and how the Church can ensure the leadership tables of its parishes, communities, and ministries are spaces where all young adults truly belong.

The Catholic faith is a place where young adults seek belonging and spiritual growth during times of great transition in their lives. Belonging is more than just feeling welcomed, it is creating communities and spaces that foster authentic relationships and encourage open and honest dialogue on difficult topics. It is actively working to build trust through mentorship and communities, and openly including those whom the Synod process identified as experiencing marginalization and thus lack of representation in the Church: women, people of color, LGBTQ Catholics, persons with disabilities, and individuals with different experiences in the life and leadership of the Church. This panel will build upon the concepts introduced in Session 2 to take a deeper dive into belonging and how the Church can ensure the leadership tables of its parishes, communities, and ministries are spaces where all young adults truly belong.



The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

  • Create spaces in the Church that are unique to where young adults are in life and are broader than ministries focused only on marriage and parenthood.
  • Adapt ministries to not relegate individuals to the margins, but welcome them and encourage them to share in their spiritual journey as a part of the whole.
  • Prioritize Christ-like compassion, vulnerability, and inclusion by leadership at all levels of the Church that creates a culture of compassion and accompaniment.
  • Provide and practice formation in generous listening and generative dialogue that is open and nonjudgmental.


An Expanded Tent: Church Beyond the Parish Walls

The Catholic Church is more than just its parishes, it is a vibrant patchwork that also includes nonprofit organizations, institutions, ministries, initiatives, and digital communities that all work for the mission of the Church. Most young adults intentionally live their faith beyond the walls of the parish, giving their time, talent, and treasure to the Church in ways unique to their generation. This panel will build further upon the previous panels to explore the Church of today and lived faith of young adults, including the role of digital media and technology in forming and sustaining faith communities, and how parishes can adapt to meet young adults where they are within the Church of today.



The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

  • Identify avenues and spaces to engage in active dialogue with young adults who generally do not participate in the life of the Church.
  • Provide opportunities for volunteer service coupled with intentional spaces for reflection and prayer.
  • Offer ongoing formation and professional development for campus ministers.
  • Facilitate and promote mentor-mentee relationships for young adults.
  • Embrace digital culture and work to elevate the leadership of young people who have profound experience of it and who often are best suited to carry out the Church's mission in the digital environment.
  • Provide avenues for young adults to accompany pastoral leaders and the broader faith community to become more familiar with digital culture and technology.   
  • Welcome creativity in establishing ministries according to the needs of faith communities, with the intentional involvement of young adults.


Examples of Organizations and Initiatives that engage Young Adults beyond parish walls

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