Young Adult Panelists Reflect on Catholic Social Thought and Civic Engagement


As November 2024 approaches amid tight national and state election races, much analysis has been made of young people, a crucial voting block that will surely influence results. On April 9th, ISN collaborated with Salt and Light, a program of Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought in Public Life, to host a gathering that focused on how young Catholics can lean on Catholic teaching to renew a sense of solidarity and responsibility in civic engagement.

(Left to Right) Panelist Lindsay Hayes, panelist Colin Martinez Longmore, facilitator Anna Gordon, and panelist Senator Flavio Bravo.

Senator Flavio Bravo (D-26) of the Arizona state legislature, Lindsay Hayes of Free the Facts, and Colin Martinez Longmore of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice graced the stage as panelists in the dialogue at the heart of the gathering. Over 600 participants attended the evening event at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in D.C. while approximately 800 people tuned into the livestream of the panel conversation. 

ISN executive director, Chris Kerr, welcomes participants.

Introducing the event, ISN executive director Chris Kerr explained that intentionally centering the conversation around the contributions that young people are making to society through their public service and public engagement was an important part of the call to build a more just world. He also emphasized the importance of Easter hope and expressed his desire that the event would “strengthen your faith or help you fine tune your moral compass.”

Serving as panel facilitator, Anna Gordon highlighted that Catholics, as a block, have voted for the winner of the popular vote of the presidential election over the last century. She invited the panelists to speak to young Catholics who may be disillusioned, angry, fearful, and alienated. In these circumstances, “the temptation can be to pull back and not engage but that’s not what our faith calls us to,” Gordon remarked.

Panelist Lindsay Hayes engages an attendee.

Picking up on this theme in one of her responses, Hayes, CEO of Free the Facts, shared that “it is a very powerful and meaningful thing to be in communication with your own institution and thinking deeply about how the institution that you are a part of lives and fulfills the values that you share. If I leave, if I disengage myself from that part of the conversation, then who will give voice to that perspective? Who will move that institution forward? Who is there to push and say ‘are you sure about that?’ ”

Martinez Longmore of NETWORK pointed to what he has learned while doing justice work alongside religious sisters. Sometimes the work is going to bring moments of tension, but “when you know you’re pursuing Gospel justice…being able to persist through [tension and disappointment] is going to help those that, in this moment, are having their voices pulled away.” 

Senator Flavio Bravo (D-26) and two attendees chat during the social hour.

As a young state legislator who took up the call to public service, Senator Flavio Bravo (D-26) of Arizona linked the origins of his political involvement to parish life. In response to a participant’s question, he remarked that “a lot of times you won’t find the role model you are looking for. You have to be that role model.”

The full livestream recording of the event can be found and shared here.

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Age is on their side. They are young, energetic, possess immense goodwill and stamina. Young people are yet to do justice to their enormous potential in rebuilding Planet Earth, our Common Home.


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