Hope for the Future

2020 Catholic Partnership Summit elevates young leaders’ voices, leaves global impact

Seated at every table of the 2020 Catholic Partnership Summit was someone who is not often among the decision makers of the Catholic Church: a young adult. During the two-day event, young adult leaders were seated at every roundtable and included in every discussion; most notably, an all-young-adult final panel of the Summit.

Directly addressing young adult leadership in the Church, the final panel featured five young adults who are experts in faith formation, leadership, ministry, and diversity and inclusion. Each panelist highlighted the importance of including within Church leadership young adults who represent the diversity among Catholics in order to create a culture of co-responsibility.

“Engaging young people is a best practice and a responsibility that we have as a Church,” said panelist Nicole Perone, ESTEEM National Coordinator and former Archdiocesan Director of Adult Faith Formation with the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn.


An Essential Role

In his homily at the opening Mass of the Summit, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, of the Archdiocese of Washington, emphasized how young adults play an essential role in the body of Christ, and how desperately they are needed in Church leadership. The discussion and recommendations for welcoming young adults to the leadership table left Summit attendees with hope for the future of the Catholic Church, despite its present challenges.

“I am leaving feeling less alone,” one attendee said. “I am leaving feeling hope, but also with the sense that there is so much work to do.”


Changing Church Culture

The recommendations from the Summit outlined actionable steps Catholic leaders can take to establish the structures that include young adults in leadership positions and support these emerging leaders including:

  • Investing in ministerial education and leadership development of young adults of diverse cultures and backgrounds
  • Making a public commitment with benchmarks to ensure young adult representation on boards and parish councils
  • Understanding the issues young adults face and creating safe spaces for dialogue about these issues
  • Providing a living wage, robust benefits, and support for lay leaders so young adults can afford to work for the Church.


A Global Impact

Globally, the recommendations of the Catholic Partnership Summits have been held up as a model for addressing crises in the Church. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia released their groundbreaking governance review report titled, “The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.”

The report was requested by the bishops’ conference and religious of Australia following the government’s Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Its authors include 14 eminent lay leaders and four clergy members. Leadership Roundtable staff met with the report’s authors to share our expertise convening Church leaders in meaningful discussion surrounding a culture of co-responsible leadership within the Church, and the services and programs we provide to Catholic leaders. 

The 208-page report repeatedly referenced Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Partnership Summits and reports as models for how the Church should address the twin crises of abuse and leadership failures. Throughout, the report cited Leadership Roundtable’s programs, services, and convenings as best practices and encouraged dioceses and parishes in Australia to implement their recommendations.

In total, the report set forth 86 recommendations to promote co-responsible governance of the Church in Australia, ranging from the selection of bishops to the importance of including women in decision-making.


This piece was originally published in the 2020 Catholic Partnership Impact Report.

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