Briana Speaks to the Pope and Members of the Synod
Holy Father, and all here present, my name is Briana Santiago, I’m 27, and I come from San Antonio, Texas. I have just begun the fifth year of formation with the “Apostles of the Interior Life” Community of consecrated women, and the fourth year of philosophical and theological studies at the Pontifical Lateran University here in Rome.
We, young people of today, are in search, in search of the meaning of life, in search of work, in search of our path or vocation, in search of our identity. “Young people dream of security, stability and personal fulfillment. . . of finding a place to which we feel we belong.” Wounded by loneliness, family fragility, and existential anxiety, we ask the Church to accompany us with “living witnesses, able to evangelize through their life.”We acknowledge the usefulness of the “exchange of information, ideals, values and common interests,” which is possible for us through the Internet, but also how technology, used in an inhuman way, can create a misleading parallel reality that ignores human dignity.”
The greater part of what I have listed is the fruit of a reflection made during the Pre-Synodal Meeting last March. I took part, welcoming the English-speaking young people who were connected through the social media, and I was physically present, among the three hundred delegates, while the reflection was developed. I share with you that I was surprised by the many desires we young people have in common, despite the many provenances and cultures. There was so much joy in that hall: the joy of knowing and of being known, which was heard in the laughs, the songs, and the chats during the pauses. We young people want dialogue, authenticity, participation, and we found ourselves welcomed there by adults who were willing and desirous to know what we bear in our heart. It was an experience of fraternity among very different persons, some even belonging to other religions or non-believers, who lived seven days of communion and mutual sharing.
We acknowledge that there are so many needs in the world, so many topics on which it is necessary to reflect and dialogue, and so we are all the more grateful that, in this historic moment, the Church is focusing her attention on us and all that relates to us. This is an honor and for us also a great responsibility, to be transparent and aware of our fragility to be able to help, not only ourselves but also the generations that will come after us.
At the personal level, I share with you that the Lord led me to Rome to discern seriously the consecrated life, not only because my family are practicing Catholics, but also thanks to every person that was Providential in my path. My parish priest in San Antonio made himself one of us, and in his closeness, I saw a welcoming Church that also has at heart the smallest member, and I melted before that love. My catechists didn’t speak only of rules, but also of their personal relationship with Christ, which changed my image of God from Judge to Father. Then, at the University I met a consecrated woman who took seriously all that I was experiencing and she accompanied me, helping me to pray and to develop my interior life. As it was for me, I believe that all of us young people need first to be listened to and then guided to enter more profoundly into ourselves. “In brief, [we want] to be met where we are — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically.”
I join all of you in the hope that the Spirit may be able to come down upon each one of us and illumine what will lead us ever closer to happiness, to the encounter with Christ in the fullness of life and of love.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
 From the final document of the Pre-Synodal Meeting on Young People, the Faith, and Discernment, 2018