NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Elias Mungai was pleased as he left a recent two-day gathering of young adults, knowing that his ideas were going to help local bishops prepare for next year’s Synod of Bishops on youth and vocations in Rome.

During the conference, the 18-year-old from the Diocese of Murang’a offered the bishops a few pointers on what it’s like to be a young Catholic.

“I am a happy one, as I consider myself part and parcel of what will transpire at the Rome bishops’ synod,” he told Catholic News Service after the mid-September meeting.


For Emily Mwihaki, 22, the conference at the Catholic-run Tangaza University College in the Kenyan capital was an eye-opening experience.

“This is very encouraging that our shepherds have seen the need to address themselves to the issue (of) youth in the church,” she said.

Both said they were eager to see what transpires in Rome during the Synod of Bishops in October 2018.

More than 300 young adults attended the Kenyan conference, which explored issues and challenges facing young Catholics. Topics included the role of young adults in small Christian communities, evangelization, education, the development of youth and young adult ministry and ministering to young Catholics on university campuses.

In one session, Father Peter Kaigua, a chaplain at the University of Nairobi, urged the church to intensify its pastoral mission among the young on college campuses. He said the aim should be to help young people face the challenges of modern secular society.

Dominic Kamau of the Archdiocese of Nairobi Youth Office raised the concern that some priests are not suited to ministering to young people.

“In some instances, these priests ended up frustrating rather than promoting and supporting the youth ministry within their pastoral jurisdiction,” he said.

The conference also addressed possible dangers posed by new technologies and social media, especially when young people turn to their smartphones during Mass.