Announcing: Cultures of Formation, a Pre-Synod Conference


cGrath Institute for Church Life presents a Pre-Synod Conference:

Cultures of Formation: Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment

March 5–7, 2018

The 2018 Vatican synod dedicated to “young people, faith, and vocational discernment” will address “the process by which a person makes fundamental choices in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit (Preparatory Document II.2).” As part of the ongoing preparation for the synod, the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame is hosting an academic and pastoral conference with three interrelated goals:

  1. To assess the formative influences on young people today

  2. To articulate the end to which the Church’s evangelization and formation efforts are ordered

  3. To exercise missionary creativity in renewing the Church’s work to form young people for vocational discernment in the present age

With these goals in mind, the guiding question for the entire conference is, How do we create cultures in which it is easier for young people to be Catholic?

By focusing on “cultures of formation”, we actually intend to broaden the focus for considering how the Church forms young people for mature discipleship, recognizing that different kinds of cultures shape the imaginations of both young people and mature adults. The conference will consider perspectives on familial cultures, educational cultures, parish cultures, and technological cultures, among others. The issue of how the religious and specifically Catholic imagination is formed and nourished for young people as they grow into adulthood will be a key theme throughout the conference.

We are inviting bishops, pastors, and lay leaders to participate in the conference, as well as faculty, administrators, and ministers from colleges and high schools. We intend to allow leaders from across different ministries and apostolates in the Church to think and work together in anticipation of the synod and for the work that will follow the synod. Conference registration opens in the summer of 2017.

Bishop Robert Barron will offer the keynote address on the first night of the conference, while author and cultural critic Nicholas Carr will deliver a featured presentation on the conference’s second night. Other invited speakers include Katherine Angulo, Associate Director of Youth Ministry at the Office of Formation and Discipleship for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and Joe Campo, Founder of Grassroots Films and creator of “The Human Experience”.

We are also issuing a Call for Proposals for breakout sessions at the conference. Please consider proposing a paper or presentation of approximately 20 minutes. Proposals should be no more the 500 words and submitted as either a Word document or PDF, complete the proposed presenters name, position, and contact information. Submit proposals to with a subject line of “2018 Conference Proposal”. Questions may also be sent to that email address. The submission deadline for proposals is October 18, 2017, with notifications returned no later than November 29, 2017. Proposed presentations should correspond to one of the following areas:

  1. Cultural Analysis: Presentation that are concerned with exploring and commenting on the prevalent cultural influences relating to the ideals and behavioral motivations of young people. These presentations may focus specifically on educational trends, familial issues, technology, or matters relating to the life of the parish, among others. In other words, how are young people being formed today and to what end?

  2. Missionary Creativity: Presentations that propose innovative ideas, strategies, or even programs in light of contemporary concerns and needs for the sake of building up cultures conducive to faithful vocational discernment for young people. Such presentations may focus on the renewal of theological education, catechetical enrichment, campus ministry, young adult or youth ministry in parish settings, new ecclesial movements, and others forms of dynamic pastoral engagement that foster vocational discernment. For reference on “missionary creativity”, see paragraph 57 of Amoris Laetitia and paragraph 28 of Evangelii Gaudium.


Please visit for more information.


Featured Photo courtesy of the McGrath Institute for Church Life


Leonard J. DeLorenzo

Leonard J. DeLorenzo, Ph.D. serves in the McGrath Institute for Church Life and teaches theology at Notre Dame. His book on death, desire, and the communion of saints is Work of Love: A Theological Reconstruction of the Communion of Saints.

Read more by Leonard J. DeLorenzo