With poll after poll reporting that a growing number of Americans— especially young people—answer “none” when asked their religion, it’s not unreasonable to assume that churches and other faith-based institutions are not doing enough to reach this important 18-40 year-old group.
It’s certainly true that the more outreach, the better, and we’re happy to report that the archdiocese has been active and engaged on this front.
Cardinal Dolan has made outreach to young adults, many of them new to the region, a priority, and there is a raft of programs throughout the archdiocese to encourage the spiritual growth of young women and men along with opportunities for service, and social and cultural activities.
The archdiocesan Young Adult Outreach office serves thousands of young professionals in the archdiocese, single and married, connecting them to ministries, resources, events and people.
Through its website, catholicnyc.com, the Outreach Office can help young adults find a parish or spiritual director, a job or a roommate. They can sign up to the email list to find out what’s going on, or contact the office directly with any questions they may have.
Run by director Colin Nykaza and an experienced and dedicated staff, the Outreach Office does more than just link people to programs, however; it also sponsors its own events, like the Catholic Conference for Young Adults last weekend at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh.
It featured a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan and a full-day program of workshops and talks (story, Page 1) for 125 attendees from the northern counties of the archdiocese. A dinner and entertainment by Catholic Underground North topped things off.
Eighteen-year-old Theresa Mark, a parishioner at St. Kateri Tekakwitha in LaGrangeville, decided to attend after she was asked to contribute a piece of artwork for one of the talks. “I wanted to take a break and spend some time with my spiritual life,” she said. “My hopes were for a day of reflection and a day to meditate on the theme of the conference of where we are and where we are going. That was really accomplished.”
We expect a lot of people at the conference felt the same way, and it’s an encouraging sign at a time when the spiritual practices of young adults appear to be in decline.
In addition to the fine efforts of the Outreach Office, the cardinal, the archdiocese and St. Patrick’s Cathedral have been making extensive use of social media, with presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as a means of reaching a segment of the faithful that may find much of its information that way.
A substantial number of parishes also schedule Sunday evening Masses, which appeal to the young adults in their area. Often, these Masses are followed by social gatherings. Typically, parish-based young adult groups undertake service activities, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen on a particular day, as well as spiritual programs such as retreat weekends.
With its vibrant, diverse and growing young adult community, the Church in New York continues to adapt to their presence.
We encourage other young adults to visit catholicnyc.com and see what it’s all about.