Synodality leads Filipino youth to listen and engage with God

Fr. Valdez of Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, known as Quiapo Church in the Philippines, calls on young people to participate in the Synodal mission of the Church, to understand the importance of listening and communicating with the Lord.

By Rechilda Estores

Fr. Earl Valdez, a Filipino priest and director for youth, has expressed his dedication in educating and involving the youth with Christ in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene at Quiapo, Manila, Philippines.

He expressed that his task as a priest is to enlighten people about God.

“I see primarily the ministerial priesthood as a gift. Something that God gives and has a reason to exist,” Fr. Valdez said. “I believe the Lord trusts us with something that He can do, so He can transcend through us.”

Fr. Valdez told Vatican News that the gift that he received and his perspective in Synodal Church moves him to include and educate the youth.

“My particular vocation is formation to our young people, not just the usual catechism and common worship and activities of Church but a holistic formation,” he stated. 

The Filipino priest believes that Synodality reflects the essence of togetherness and the importance of youth participation in their journey with the Church.

“Synodality is actually walking together, and I think that kind of accompaniment is needed from the youth,” he explained. “Synodality is not something we explicitly teach because it is very important for us that this everyday living is being synodal in character; we directly teach it by practice and it comes with catechism, formation, and reminders.”

He also shared that the parish seeks to strengthen the relationship of the young people with Christ by “meeting them regularly on Sunday to have a Bible sharing and training them to enhance their skills in singing and dancing for the ministry,” he continued. “They are scholars of Quiapo church, so we give them formation and education.”

Aside from inspiring young people to be with God, he also emphasized that they provide “more than just holistic formation. We also give them leadership duties, and leadership duties come with consultation, listening, and directing.”

As a priest and youth coordinator, he revealed that the parish is putting more effort to contribute positively to the lives of young people.

“We do a lot of work because you need to talk to them, listen to them, understand where they are coming from,” he said. 

Responsibility of Listening

Fr. Valdez also conveyed the significance of helping young people listen to each other.

“In terms of Synodality, we have to be prepared to go through those rough edges of listening,” he said. “Listening is not just passive; listening also entails having the obligation to prepare somebody to take right actions and to hear the right things that they need to hear.”

Synod youth participants at Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (courtesy of PYM Quiapo)

Synod youth participants at Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (courtesy of PYM Quiapo)

He also added that “synodal is also part of my theological orientation that the Church is everybody.” 

Fr. Valdez expressed the vital role of the Church by saying, “the Church is very Synodal, I think that is our lifeblood.”

As a youth ministry coordinator, he hopes that the Church will continue to involve more young people and bring them closer to Christ.

“I hope that the Church can continue and accommodate greater interaction among young people,” he said.

Living with Christ

Fr. Valdez said that young people in the Philippines recognize their belief with God.

“Filipino youth see the value of their faith,” he added. “It is important to have discerning encounter with reality and Filipino youth can offer a faith that continuously discerns.

Young people offering prayers during synod activity (courtesy of Fr. Earl Valdez)

Fr. Valdez hopes that those who joined and will join the Synodal activities will “not just be part of the Church but will remain.”

He concluded the interview by encouraging everyone to contribute to the journey of the Synodal Church. “We can only work one step at a time to try and build a better future through our own efforts; synodality will bring better visions of who we are to our faith.”