Young adult outreach


Adapted from a comment I left on a friend's blog.

How do we get young people to meet Christ? Here are some ways I can think of:

The Eucharist
Service (in the poor)
Each other

I would say that the easiest, most effective way to enable young people to find Christ and - very important - actually get them to show up, is to bring them to meet other Christians. And by "meet," I don't mean "attend a talk together." I agree that without a serious attempt to build community, "Theology on "Tap and talks and any other program aren't going to do anything seriously productive.

My thoughts go to our late Holy Father, Pope JP2 who, when charged with the pastoral care of young adults in Poland - living under a Secularist Communism which was had as a goal the destruction of their faith - simply gathered these university students and young professionals around him and developed friendships with them and among them. A similar approach with today's Catholics can be effective. If we can bring people together to see that there are other Catholics curious about their faith, that's the first step of healing aloneness. From there, we can keep inviting them to meet Christ in other ways.

Do we need service? Yup. Do we need prayer? Yup. But at the root of it, we need to help people experience a taste of Christian life, which - day to day - is experienced most often through the kindness and friendship of others. Giving people a taste of the richness of the Chrisitian experience, and continuing to invite them to go deeper into the mystery of that kindness, is the best thing we can do for them.

An email today reminded me of this - look at the life of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. He was a young man - a rich young man, actually - who was alive with Christ, and he spread this life to all of his friends by simply being a friend to them. He had a deep love for the poor and for prayer, but he also was socially active and engaged in his friendships, bringing those close to him to Jesus.

Our parish has a group with which we're peripherally involved (never enough time) called YSYM - Young Single and Young Married. The first meeting was wine and refreshments in the parish hall. Now, they have a couple of events a week, including prayer, community service, happy hour, talks from a priest and just plain fun.

This group is a great model, I think, for several reasons. First of all, it brings single and married people together - which I think benefits the single people who haven't experienced being around their peers in healthy Christian marriages or around children. So many single young people are disconnected from any kind of family reality.

Second, I think they do a good job of incorporating the group into all different parts of the life of the Church - prayer, Sacraments, service, catechesis. This is what I meant by giving them a taste of the richness of Christian life. Catholicism is not just about any one of those things; its about all of them together.

Finally, the group got started when our pastor got a group of young people together and charged them with planning the group and its activities, which I think is one of the greatest strengths. It's not a "program" put together to deliver a certain message - it's simply a bunch of young people who plan Christ-centered activities to do together to help their faith lives. The priests support the group by their presence, which is another great gift, but the group members in a sense have "ownership" of what the group does

Just some thoughts and ideas.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on September 2, 2005 7:34 AM.

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