by Paul Morisi
Lent is a unique time in the Church year, one that is solemn and reflective. However, it is also a time when we see a resurgence of what some call “inactive” young adult Catholics. Those who are usually not churchgoers are all of a sudden in the pew next to you, and that is a good thing.
You do not have to overwhelm these newcomers with a variety of flyers of upcoming events. The likelihood of one of these young adults signing up to be drafter for a lifetime of Catholic activities is slim. A well-designed, eye-catching welcome card (it could be a post card or business card) with the important information on where to find out what is going on in the parish or who to contact for young adults would be important. Having a good website or a Facebook page is an excellent way to do this. Have your up-to-date events available on these sites.
Having exciting and engaging events for Catholic young adults may seem intimidating. Here are some simple ideas:
Small Lenten Groups: Lent is a relatively short time in the life of the Church calendar. Utilize its brevity. Arrange for short five-week programs (i.e. Bible study, men’s and women’s prayer groups, anything that gathers people to share their faith). People might not be willing to sign up to attend 52 Sundays a year, but perhaps they might meet for five weeks.
Online Retreats: Young adults are busy, especially in the hustle and bustle of the Brooklyn and Queens lifestyle. Inform those young adults to try a virtual retreat or reflection. These can be found on www.loyolapress.com and www.bustedhalo.com. This would allow them to connect to the Church at their leisure, hopefully engaging them in a way that will bring them to weekly worship.
Movie Night: Everyone loves movies. Be supplied with plenty of snacks, good movies and discussion topics. Similar to the small Lenten groups, preparing faith-centered discussions for five movies (showing one movie a week) can allow young adults a time to share in fellowship and their faith. You’ll be surprised at what lessons can be extracted from movies like Juno, Pay it Forward or Spiderman.
Put the Ball in their Court: Encourage, rather, challenge them to bring someone down with them to a future function. Chances are these young adults have friends who are also young adults. See if they can bring along one of their friends. Not only will it increase the attendance at your event, but it will also strengthen the connection that the Church is more than just a building: It’s a community of people.
These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling. Think of what makes your parish special, or what special gifts the members of your parish or young adult group have that can be put to use. Remember, this is all about community building, building the community of Christ and leading us to the Kingdom of God.
Paul Morisi is the coordinator of adolescent and young adult faith formation in the diocese’s Office of Faith Formation.