Immediately upon hearing Jesus’ call, Andrew, Simon Peter, James, and John left their boats and nets to follow Him. But in modern times it can be more confusing for us to heed Jesus’ call. We are surrounded by more distractions, more messages, and more noise. In the cacophony of texts, emails, advertisements, and social media posts which make up our daily lives, it is hard to find enough stillness to hear and discern God’s call.
Yet we must remember “God is not the wind or the earthquake or the fire. God is the gentle blowing” (1 Kings 19:12). It is our human challenge to be still and attentive enough to hear God. Basilica Young Adults group member Sunoh Choe recognizes to this challenge, saying “we live in a time with diversity of thought, differing lifestyles, competing priorities, and plenty of distractions. Life has more purpose when we incorporate ‘spiritual food’ into our lives.”
ENGAGEMENT OF YOUNG ADULTS
A 2014 Religious Landscape Study by Pew Research Center study shows growing rates of religiously “unaffiliated” people, most noticeably in the young adult demographic. Some estimates state US Catholic confirmation rates (typically between ages of 16-18) are less than half that of baptisms (often at birth or early childhood).
Because The Basilica is a recognizable landmark in the midst of a bustling urban center, it has long been a popular parish for young adults. Currently 21% of our parish members are between the ages of 23 and 37, commonly known as Generation Y or Millennials.
The Basilica intentionally reaches out to members in this age group to deepen engagement for many reasons. Young adults are constantly reshaping and redefining our secular world. Their perspectives and needs must be considered in our parish community as well. To paraphrase our vision statement from the prophet Jeremiah, in their well-being we will also find our own.
Basilica pastor Fr. John Bauer cites Saint John Paul II’s urging to “open wide the doors for Christ” as a reason The Basilica dedicates resources toward ministry for young adults. In his invitation to World Youth Day, Pope Francis recently told young people, “God is also watching over you and calling you, and when God does so, he is looking at all the love you are able to offer.”
BASILICA YOUNG ADULTS
Basilica Young Adults (BYA) is a Basilica group for social activities and service for people in their 20s and 30s. A visit to their web page or their social media page shows a dizzying array of opportunities each week varying from bible studies, speaker events, and sandwich making for our neighbors in need to sand volleyball and happy hours. The group’s coordinator and Basilica staff member Ben Caduff says there is intentionally “a spectrum of opportunities with something for everyone and a wide variety of on-ramps to participation.”
Rooted in the variety of BYA activities is a focus on religion and spirituality. “The Basilica attracts a diverse group of people in backgrounds, careers, skills, personalities, and stages of faith,” Choe observes. “The group recognizes the personal faith journey each person is on, and everyone is welcome,” adds Caduff. “People can feel comfortable getting more involved.”
Members say authentic relationships are a key difference between BYA and other non-religious social groups. BYA member Grace Kane explains, “within our one triune God we can see how relationship is integral to faith.” Core to all BYA events is the invitation for attendees
to grow in their faith and their relationship with God and Jesus. Participants share a common yearning for authenticity and actively living out their faith, even if they are still seeking answers. Kane defines relationship in this context as “being open, receptive, attentive, and loving.”
This focus creates a unique sense of welcome, community, and belonging because, as BYA member Kyra Knoff notes, "two or more are gathered." In one another they find a group of people intentionally building strong relationships with each other, with God, and with their Catholic faith. Despite modern technology which can promote impersonal communication, BYA members heed the Gospel call to real face-to-face relationships.
Full article BASILICA Magazine, Fall 2017, page 22
by Melissa Streit
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