Holy Cross of San Antonio: 300 Students Voice Feedback for the Church

Project Hope Winners Page PhotoPope Francis asked. Students from Holy Cross of San Antonio responded en masse. Some 300 students, the entire student body, participated in small group Listening Sessions held in a single day last month to voice their hopes, challenges and even criticisms of the Church.

Listening Sessions, conducted in parishes, campus ministries and Catholic schools throughout the nation, are part of an initiative to connect more young people with the Church, an issue central to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that will be held in October 2018. Listening Sessions were also incorporated into Project Hope 2018, an annual, national contest sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross.

Richard Vasquez, academic dean at Holy Cross of San Antonio, said the school was able to organize school-wide Listening Sessions of 15-18 students through its St. Joseph House program. Afterward, the faculty shared what they learned. “There’s a certain yearning from our youth to be involved in their local church,” said Mr. Vasquez. “However, to a certain degree, the current structure doesn’t address the needs of our kids and their desire to feel wanted and engaged.”

Specific suggestions from participants ranged from more active and relevant CCD programs to service opportunities. “You would think that they are not big on tradition and the pomp and circumstance of the Church, but students love it,” Mr. Vasquez added. “They just need the invitation. Once the gate is open they will run right through.”

Project Hope 2018 received more than 1,000 entries from students who participated in Listening Sessions and created a work of writing, art, music or video reflecting on the experience. It is the most number of submissions since the contest began in 2010. Contest winners will be announced on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and the second annual Religious Brothers Day.