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 | Reflections By Andrew Brown and Hieu Ho

The Journey to 2031

The Youth and Young Adult Diocesan Pastoral Plan

 

What were your expectations going into the pastoral planning process, and how did they change during collaboration with other commissioners?

Andrew: What changed over time was the intensity of a renewed focus to help each Catholic in Santa Clara County place Christ at the center of our lives. It truly is the “people’s plan” for our communities and families.

Hieu: During the collaboration, it quickly became apparent that all committee members envisioned a bigger picture for the good of all areas of the church.

Was working on the pastoral plan personally and spiritually transformative?

Andrew: Spiritually, it has helped me to look inwardly at where I have been complacent and need renewal. This echoes the overarching goal of the Pastoral Plan: spiritual renewal. All the structures, programs, staffing, and encounters are designed to breathe new life into the people of God in Santa Clara County and beyond!

Hieu: Having the opportunity to listen to various groups' feedback and desires has helped remind us to continue to serve and share resources, ideas, and personnel so that we all may benefit.

If you had to choose one or two words that encapsulate your experience as a pastoral plan commissioner, what would those be and why?

Andrew: I would say humbling and innovative. It was humbling to recognize the dedication, commitment, and passion of fellow commission members and action plan teams. It was innovative because we were allowed to begin with a blank slate to create something fresh, exciting, and relevant for the Church and the larger world.

Hieu: The first words that come to mind are unity and visionary. We tried our best to ask ourselves what God would want, what His vision might be, and what will help unify the diocese in the next few years.

Which aspect of the pastoral plan for Youth and Young Adults is the most significant change we can look forward to?

Andrew: I am most excited about the emphasis on outreach to those young people on the margins and the so-called ‘nones,’ that is, those without religion. He is calling all of us.

Hieu: I am personally looking forward to engaging our youths and young adults through social and spiritual activities centered on the Eucharist. To be effective, it is vital that we, too, listen and understand our youth through the upcoming synods: what their needs are, what they aspire to become, and how we can help them grow and to become leaders who serve their communities.

What facet of the Youth and Young Adults action plan excites you most?

Andrew: What excites me in the youth and young adult plan is the fostering of authentic relationships, which is instrumental because, in my experience, youth and young adults want to belong before they believe. I see worthy value in a strong partnership between our parishes and Catholic elementary and high schools that can attract more students to a more profound encounter with Christ.

Hieu: I hope our various ministries recognize and share each other's strengths to create and grow opportunities for our youth and young adults to encounter Jesus Christ in purposeful events.  Let us re-engage our young members of the Body of Christ and lift them!

Can you comment on our challenges as a diocese in implementing the action plan for youth and young adults?

Andrew: The reality is so many things, people, and non-virtuous values are vying for our young people’s attention. And the culture is winning. We need to re-commit to accompanying our youth and young adults in the challenges their generations face.

Hieu: As a recent Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) survey reports, the vast majority of those who believe in the real presence of Christ are active in Catholic schools, ministries, and programs. This is where the youth and young adult facet of the plan will be impactful in fostering and nurturing a lifelong journey of faith.

What inspired and guided you or your team as you discerned the plan?

Andrew: Personally, Saint Joseph has been my model. He cares deeply for each soul under his patronage in our diocese and wants nothing more than for each of us to encounter and love his adopted Son as much as he does.

Hieu: I was blessed to meet a wonderful priest from the Legionaries of Christ who reminded me that our journey is not a cross we bear but one we joyfully embrace.  Christ calls us to put our faith into action, and that is where I have found the joy of faith and the excitement to share this joy.

How have you grown in understanding how to minister to youth and young adults, and how has that impacted your dedication to putting this pastoral plan into action?

Andrew: I have grown in understanding that there is a renewed commitment of other like-hearted Catholics who desire to serve, advocate, and empower the youth and young adults as leaders of the Church today, not just tomorrow. It has affirmed the Lord’s call for me to serve with the Church.

Hieu: I think my perception and attitude have significantly changed. Before, I only focused on what I saw in my own personal bubble because that was all I knew. As I mingled with the pastoral plan delegation, I learned how our struggles and victories overlap with the local community and I am eager to put the plan into action and embrace the grace to walk alongside our youth.

Is there anything else you wish to share?

Andrew: This comment is for the parents of tweens, teens, and young adults: we hear you! We get it. We know how you must feel about your children not always continuing to practice the faith you instilled in them. Don’t lose hope! Remain steadfast in your faith. Christ will win the hearts of your children with your prayers and advocacy. Trust in the Lord’s goodness and mercy!

Hieu: Let us pray that we may all grow to know, love, and serve Christ as we seek to be holy children of God and contributing members of the Church. There has already been a massive response to the synod, where the strategic priorities were discussed and formed. I pray that others are inspired by the vision and called to serve the Body of Christ.

Hành Trình Đi về Năm 2031

Andrew Brown holds a master’s degree in theology and is a campus minister and religion teacher at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View. He and his wife are members of Saint Lucy parish. They serve on committees for Stewardship and Liturgy and jointly lead marriage preparation for their parish and the diocese. They are also board members of the Young Catholic Professionals of Silicon Valley.

Hieu Ho serves as a youth leader at the Our Lady of La Vang parish and is currently the President of the Holy Family League of Chapters, representing the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) for the Diocese of San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, and Honolulu. He and his wife and four children are also active members of the Our Lady of La Vang parish and the VEYM. He is a software engineer by trade and holds a master's degree in software engineering from Santa Clara University.

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