October 7, 2016

Young adult award winners find faith and fulfillment in community

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin poses for a photo with Brie Anne Eichhorn and Cory Watkins, the recipients of the archdiocese’s 2016 Young Adult Servant Leader of the Year Award. The awards were presented during a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Sept. 25. (Submitted photo by Allie Tyler)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin poses for a photo with Brie Anne Eichhorn and Cory Watkins, the recipients of the archdiocese’s 2016 Young Adult Servant Leader of the Year Award. The awards were presented during a Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Sept. 25. (Submitted photo by Allie Tyler)

By John Shaughnessy

Brie Anne Eichhorn remembers the conversation that changed her life.

The conversation occurred five years ago when her mother suggested, “You should really get involved in the young adult community [of the archdiocese.]”

Twenty-five at the time, Eichhorn quickly responded, “I don’t think so.”

“I thought I was too cool. I wasn’t all-in,” Eichhorn recalls.

Still, a seed had been planted, and it began to grow as Eichhorn took a deeper look at her life. Finding it lacking in the fulfillment and the faith she wanted, she decided to consider her mom’s suggestion.

It was the beginning of a transformation for her, a change that was recently celebrated when she was chosen as one of the two recipients of this year’s archdiocesan Young Adult Servant Leader of the Year Award.

Eichhorn and Cory Watkins received the award during the “Bishop’s Bash” that Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin hosted for young adults in Indianapolis on Sept. 25.

“When God called me out of that life and into this new life, I felt I was understood—what I’m about—for the first time,” says Eichhorn, now 30. “This is my community. This is my family. The people understand me, and they understand what being a Catholic and a Christian is all about.”

She began her involvement in the young adult faith community by sharing her talent and passion for music. She also became involved in leading retreats. And her background as a registered nurse who teaches natural family planning has led her to also teach St. John Paul II’s approach to sexuality—known as the theology of the body—to other young adults.

“I wasn’t strong enough on my own to live this life,” says Eichhorn, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis. “It’s been a gift to me to be part of this strong community. I like to have meaningful conversations with friends one-on-one—to enter into their lives. That’s what I like about leading retreats. You get to go deep with people and get closer to God.”

For the past four years, she has also lived in the St. Catherine of Alexandria Women’s Formation House in Indianapolis, a community that strives to deepen their faith through living and praying together.

“Five years ago, I had a turning point in my life,” says Eichhorn, a 2004 graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. “God’s plan for our lives isn’t always what we imagine, but he will get you where you need to be.”

Sometimes, that happens with a mother’s help. Eichhorn thought of her mother—Dr. Melanie Margiotta Linehan—when she received her Young Adult Servant Leader of the Year award. Her mother died last November.

“I felt like she was with me,” Eichhorn says. “I also have a strong relationship with Mary. I picture the two of them looking out for me.”

Creating relationships among young adults—and having them develop a closer relationship with God—has also been a growing focus for Cory Watkins in recent years.

At 32, Watkins is a founding team member of Indy Catholic Young Adult Intramurals, a groundbreaking program in the archdiocese. Started in 2014, the program’s emphasis on sports and friendship has been successful in creating a sense of community and a connection to the Catholic faith for young adults.

“I love that we can be competitive, that we can have fun, and that we can share our faith with each other before, during and after competition,” says Watkins, a member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis.

In its third year, the program has connected more than 600 young adults from more than 40 parishes through the sports of volleyball, kickball and bowling.

“You get to know a lot more people this way,” says Watkins, a graduate of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. “It’s not the south side, the north side, the east side or the west side. We get to be meshed into one big group. People want to hang out and be together.

“Every year, we see more involvement from people—more people wanting to play and more people wanting to help out. It’s exciting.”

Still, the best part for Watkins is the impact the intramurals program has had on his faith and the faith of other young adult Catholics from ages 18 to 35.

“Having a Catholic background has been a huge part of my life. It’s important for me to share my faith with others. For me, it all comes back to the

Eucharist. To have the Body of Christ with us and to see that young adults want to be with others in the archdiocese, it’s been amazing. It has absolutely deepened my relationship with God.”
 

(For information about the Indy Catholic Young Adult Intramurals, visit the website, www.indycatholic.org. Registration is currently underway for bowling.)

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