First, I must apologize for failing two days in a row to bring my camera along to get some pictures. Last night, I was at St. Annin Saratoga for Confirmation. They had a class of 8. I had the opportunity just before Mass to meet most of them along with some of their family, and also had the chance a mingle briefly at the reception afterwards. Once again, I am impressed with this group of young people.
Fr. Karl Millis provided some fine hospitality with a great home cooked meal, and one of the local pastors joined us as well, Fr. Sam Hayes from St. Joseph in Rawlins. We enjoyed a nice meal together and some good conversation prior to getting ready for Mass. Saratoga is located about a two hour drive west of Cheyenne, just beyond Elk Mountain. With a full moon, and plenty of snow on the ground and mountains, it was a beautiful drive home last night.
This evening, I had the joy of spending some time with a good group of young adults here in Cheyenne. There is a national program for young adult ministry called “Theology on Tap”. These groups generally gather in a local “watering hole” with a local pastor or other Catholic “personality”…in tonight’s case, the local bishop. The evening generally provides time for a prayer, socializing, and an opportunity to discuss a specific topic or two of our Catholic faith.
I hear in our young people a great desire to be more “connected” with the Church. They desire to be welcomed in their parishes, and are looking for ways to form meaningful groups of faithful to associate with and share their faith. This group also shared their “frustrations” in meeting their desires.
I think (hope) they felt “heard” this evening, even though there are no clear, easy answers to their challenges and to meet their desires. I think to some extent, we as a local church are on the right track in that Young Adult ministry is one of our six priorities for the new strategic plan. As we talked, we also felt pretty strongly that their is plenty of room for the local parishes to grow in their efforts to be more welcoming and hospitable.
At the same time, I think we all agreed that each individual also needs to take some initiative in engaging their local pastor, parish leadership, and individual parishioners. We discussed how the Church is not just the bishop and priests, but all the “People of God”, and we each have a responsibility to build community. I saw and heard some frustrations this evening, but more than that, I saw and heard joy and hope and faith, and a willingness to continue to “engage” and to work together to strengthen our young adult ministry, and even more broadly, our church.
CHALLENGE: Next Sunday, identify a new face in your parish. Introduce yourself, and get to know one new person…maybe it is the person you have sat next to the past year, and you still do not know their name.