Young Adults Build Faith and Friendships Together at Mass

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Michaela Cotter and Rebecca Rethwisch, who are newcomers to New York, have found friends and strengthened their faith by attending the archdiocese’s Office of Young Adult Outreach events.

Ms. Cotter and Ms. Rethwisch were among the several hundred young adults at a Young Adult Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dec. 13.

“I showed up to New York City with a job offer and a suitcase, no friends really, and only with hope,” Ms. Cotter, a nurse originally from San Francisco who attends Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena parish in Manhattan, told CNY.

“I felt God was calling me to New York, and I chose to follow that. By following Him and the opportunity, I created a home here. The Catholic community has become my home, and I’ve met some of my best friends.”

The evening started with praying the Rosary, a performance by Catholic musician Ike Ndolo and Eucharistic Adoration. Mass was celebrated by Father Emmanuel Mansford, C.F.R., and following Mass, the young adults mingled at Iguana NYC, a nightclub in Manhattan.

The Office of Young Adult Outreach, which sponsored the event, oversees 89 youth adult groups scattered around the archdiocese and Queens.

“I really love the Catholic community here,” said Ms. Rethwisch, who is from Iowa and also attend Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena. “I’ve met the best friends here, and I think it’s invaluable to have a community as a young professional when you’re away from your family, especially in a city like New York.

“The Catholic scene in Manhattan is unbelievable. It blew me away. I’ve been here three months. I knew people who said it was great and a good community. I’ve been really stunned with the sheer amount of opportunities you have to get involved with your faith in Manhattan. I love it here.”

Father Mansford, who celebrated Mass in place of Cardinal Dolan, who had a brief illness, referred to the first reading from Isaiah in delivering his message to the young adults about having hope in God. Father Mansford shared the story of a young man, who was sitting next to him on a flight to Miami. The young adult, who was going on a cruise with his wife, had hopes for things like a better apartment and job.

Father Mansford said his fellow traveler was searching for hope in God and the two prayed together on the plane.

“You give up praying, you give up hope. You give up hoping, life seems empty,” he said.

Anna Sowa said Father Mansford delivered an important message for young adults.

“I loved how Father was saying no matter how much we try to fill ourselves with other things, those things will never be enough. That’s very true. The message I got was to have hope in God,’’ said the Queens resident who attends Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in that borough.

“The Advent season can get very busy and hectic. Coming to Mass brings me peace and hope, that there is something greater out there because it’s easy to get caught up in all the materialism of the season. It’s nice to come and meet with friends and center myself in what’s important, which is my faith, my family and my friends.”

Margaret Fernandez attended the Mass with her older sister Justine. The Brooklyn residents, who work in Manhattan, attend Mass at the Basilica of Regina Pacis in their home borough.

“It feels special coming to Catholic NYC events, especially during Advent,’’ Margaret said. “You can see all these people and it’s an inspiration to see there are so many more people that are trying to encounter Christ now than we realize.

“I try to go to daily Mass. It’s always special to come to Mass, but it’s special to come to these big events because you see people you haven’t seen in a long time. Especially in Midtown at Christmas and the Cathedral, it’s so beautiful, and it’s a reminder that Jesus is really coming. So I wanted to be here.’’

Information: CatholicNYC.org

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