Midweek Young Adult Masses Build Community in Bustling City

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Sitting in a pew at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Aug. 7, William Manning was absorbing all that happens at a Young Adult Mass each month.

“I love to belong to a community of believers than to just practice my faith in isolation,” the 26-year-old told CNY.

Young adults begin arriving an hour before the 7:30 p.m. monthly Mass, usually held on the first Wednesday of the month, for confession, live music, praying of the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and, on this night, a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Some arrive early to reconnect with friends they’ve met at events sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult Outreach, which also sponsors the Young Adult Mass.

Priests are chosen from around the archdiocese to serve as celebrants, and Cardinal Dolan celebrates two Masses each year with the young adults.

Following Mass, there is a social. During Lent, young adults will do community service for the homeless after Mass.

“Young adults are looking for community,” said Colin Nykaza, director of the Office of Young Adult Outreach. “I think coming to these Masses has given young adults the opportunity to experience that they are not alone in their faith and they have found a true community.”

Alverlis, a singer-songwriter who ministers in the archdiocese and in the Diocese of Brooklyn, performed before and during the liturgy, and Father Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., an associate professor of philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx since 1992, was the Mass celebrant.

In his homily, Father Koterski shared the message sent in the Gospel from Matthew. In the Gospel, a Canaanite woman keeps asking Jesus to heal her daughter, and Jesus eventually heals the daughter.

“There is something very much in this for all of us,” said Father Koterski. “Whatever it is that we need, we must keep on asking Him. For some, it will be the need for courage in the face of great fear. For some, it will be a matter of resilience in the face of discouragement. For some, it will be a matter of chastity in the face of great and strong emotions and desires.”

Manning, who attends Mass at St. Monica in Manhattan, said he looks forward to hearing the homilies at the Young Adult Masses.

“Many of the sermons in this particular Mass are targeted toward people in my age group. I think it’s heightened the effect of this Mass,” he said.

Samaira Kempner, 29, who attends Mass at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan, came to New York from Brazil five years ago and began attending the Young Adult Masses about a year later.

“I like the environment of the young adults getting together,” she said. “When you’re in New York City without family, it’s just hard to be Catholic alone. So I come here to meet people who are looking for the same thing you are. So, it’s like a little community. It’s nice.”

Jennifer Delac, 28, moved to New York from Houston 10 years ago to attend Fordham University and said she’s attended about 10 Young Adult Masses.

“It’s a nice time to stop and reflect in the middle of the week,” said the parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. “Everybody goes to Mass on Sunday, but it’s easy to lose that in the middle of the week, especially in the hustle and bustle of the city. There are so many other things to think about and do.

“It’s nice to stop on a Wednesday to take time to spend with Jesus. Particularly at the Young Adult Mass, it’s nice to see a life that’s coming up in the Church.”

Mike Mignuolo, 31, traveled in from Brooklyn where he’s a parishioner of St. Frances Cabrini. He said he’s attended about a half-dozen Young Adult Masses.

“I have a lot of friends here who have faith in people and are honest. I can talk about things with them and be myself,” he said.

“The Mass brings together men, women and people of all races. Christ brings us together.”

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