Wednesday, March 14, 2007


There is a difference between running a social club and a youth or young adult group in a Catholic parish. It is not about get-togethers at all costs; it is about helping Catholics live a more authentic Christian life-style. If instilling the faith is not our objective goal, then we are stepping outside of our mission statement and wasting our valuable and limited time and resources. We are not a social organization. Community comes from living the mission; it is not to a mission simply to establish community.

Here are a couple of interesting insights from Colleen Carroll’s book, “The New Faithful”:

“[Y]oung Christians must find communities and fellowships that inspire and sustain them. Not every community fits that bill. Many churches, parachurch organizations, and religious orders struggle to attract young adults who seem hopelessly unresponsive. The attempts of these organizations to appeal to the next generations by diluting their message or softening their demands seem to backfire, leading many religious leaders to conclude that today’s young adults cannot commit to Christian communities of any stripe.” Page 95

“The decisions to be an orthodox Christian today entails a conscious choice, not a passive inheritance. And living that choice is no easy task.” Page 45

“’People think that if we make it easy on [young adults], we’ll draw them in,’ she said. ‘It’s the very opposite. Youth are looking for a cause, a reason to live. They need something to give their lives to.’” Page 70

“Law said, ‘I think every Christian knows it deep down – that it’s a life of self-sacrifice. But we never had a place to fall down and die.’”

It is truth that is compelling. I will not lay down my life, give of my earnings, wake up early on Sunday or devote my vocation to an organization because it will provide free pizza and games for me once a week for a couple of hours. Many places provide that already. Give me something to live for and die for and I will be there.

Now, that is not to say that we never have dances or pizza nights or open gym, but it must grow organically out of Christian fellowship, not be the attempted cause of it or the only people you will attract are those who simply have no place else to go that day. You will have visitors, not warriors for Christ.

A cool place for Clevelanders to check out is the Saint Rose Young Adults Group who seem to have a great balance. Good luck out there finding a place to lay down your life. If you can’t find one – start one.


Adoro te Devote said...

Just wondering - do you have a Frassati Society in Cleveland?

This is the next step after a youth group, for 18-35 year olds, but the presence of such groups of course can help the youth as a way of knowing there is somewhere else to GO after graduation.

And do you have any idea what I'm talking about or should I provide more info on Frassati?

Habemus Papam said...

Finally someone has spoken out! This seems to be a huge problem with youth groups these days (not all but some). The thought is to make the kids feel welcome and have "play dates" as you would with a 5yr old rather than teaching them something worthwhile about their faith. They are calling out for more, something with substance and meaning. We need to make them hunger for their faith instead of formulating a night that consists of pizza and dodge ball.

Anonymous said...

adoro, I'll have to look up Frassati Society, but didn't know if you'd heard of Kepha Rocks (they have been interviewed on EWTN) and one of their heroes is the Blessed Frassati.

Good point, Fr. Here we have a dynamic youth group which is a lot of fun, but it doesn't talk down to the young, nor water anything down. They require enormous energy, so God bless everyone who jumps on board to help, but the difference was spelled by a very young priest. As our pastor says, we must do all we can for the kids while this priest remains with us to help set it all up and get it grounded for good, because the clerical shortage is so severe (here in the northeast), he'll no doubt be given his own parish in a year or two.

Fr. V said...

Adoro te devote - tried finding Frassati Society Cleveland but found nothing. Can you enlighten?

Lily - It is great for a young priest to really get something going. The next important step is to get lay persons devoted and active and for him to ease off a bit so that it isn't a personality cult; the group dying becuase he leaves. Such an easy trap in which to fall.

Does he seem to be pulling the group together well?

Adoro te Devote said...

Frassati Society in general is not a cohesive/universal group. I believe it started in Europe, and I think the first society in the U.S. began in Denver, CO.

Here's a couple links:

(it appears that there's one in Indianapolis!)

This one is to one of our local chapters which is based out of the Cathedral of St. Paul:

My parish also has a chapter - we're in the 'burbs, but we do a lot of things with the Cathedral group as well.

The basic premise is this: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati is our patron (check out the links for his history), and the group is into outdoor activities, fellowship, PRAYER, formation, etc. At our parish we've requested certain talks on certain topics, like the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium, and one of our priests in his first year used us as "guinea pigs" for his first talks. We've also had other speakers and are trying to incorporate a "Theology on Tap" kind of thing into our events as well. That's a different story.

It's meant to be a very well-rounded group with a basis in theology and holiness.

Hopefully the links help. If Cleveland doesn't have one of these groups, maybe the local young adults would be interested in forming one. It does tend to help give some guidelines and a sense of "mission".

Oh...we've also done some volunteer stuff. A couple years ago we prayed a rosary at an abortion clinic and then went across the street to the pro-life clinic to paint. During the day the power went out and we flooded the basement while cleaning the paint brushes.

So warning about Bl. Frassati....he tends to be mischievoius! :-)

Adoro te Devote said...

lily ~ sorry, forgot to answer your question! No, I've never heard of Kepha Rocks, so must have missed that one on EWTN. I believe the Denver Frassati group has been on EWTN as well, though.

Rob said...

-People think that if we make it easy on [young adults], we’ll draw them in,’ she said. ‘It’s the very opposite. Youth are looking for a cause, a reason to live. They need something to give their lives to.-