July 6, 2018

Four parishes in the archdiocese chosen for Young Adult Initiative

Fathers Douglas Marcotte, left, and James Brockmeier were among the representatives from the archdiocese who participated in the recent first meeting of the parishes chosen for the Young Adult Initiative, a multi-parish, multi-state effort to connect young adults and the Church. The meeting was held in May at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Submitted photo)

Fathers Douglas Marcotte, left, and James Brockmeier were among the representatives from the archdiocese who participated in the recent first meeting of the parishes chosen for the Young Adult Initiative, a multi-parish, multi-state effort to connect young adults and the Church. The meeting was held in May at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

At 33, Father Douglas Marcotte understands clearly the challenge in trying to bring members of the young adult age group (18-35) into the Church.

“The thing we always have to do as Christians is we have to explain why it’s relevant to their lives today,” says Father Marcotte, pastor of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes, both in Jeffersonville.

“It’s something we need to do with young adults, with every person. ‘Why is a relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church important?’ ”

Hoping to find more effective ways of connecting young people to the Catholic faith, Sacred Heart was one of 96 parishes who applied to be part of the Young Adult Initiative, an initiative that was launched at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad when it received a $1.38 million grant from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. (See related story)

Sacred Heart is also one of the 16 parishes—including three others from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—which have been chosen for the four-year initiative that is focused on young adults and faith at a time when many young people no longer identify with any organized religion.

“I’m excited,” Father Marcotte says. “One of the great benefits of this program is being able to work with other parishes that are also committed to reaching out to young adults. I think we can learn a lot from each other. If we can show young adults why it is life-giving, great fruits will come from that.”

That’s also the reaction of Father Kenneth Taylor, pastor of Holy Angels and St. Rita parishes, both in Indianapolis.

“It meant a lot to be chosen for a number of reasons,” Father Taylor says of Holy Angels Parish being selected to take part in the initiative. “Of the 16 parishes, I think we’re the only African-American one chosen. And being a small, urban parish, this gives us an opportunity to learn from them.”

Being part of the Young Adult Initiative fits one of the objectives of the National Black Catholic Congress’ action plan, Father Taylor says.

“Parishes must engage the urgent issue of disengaged black Catholic youths,” Father Taylor notes. “We have to investigate local, regional and national opportunities for the development of black Catholic youth and young adults. We see this as fitting right into that.”

There’s the same desire to explore different ways of reaching young adults at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany, a suburban parish that was also chosen for the initiative.

“We recognize it as an age group that is not as involved in Mass and other activities,” says Tom Yost, pastoral associate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. “We want to listen to them and serve them better.

“We’re trying to develop that relationship more than anything. Hopefully through the Young Adult Initiative, we’ll develop tools to build that relationship and make that connection. We want them to be engaged, to contribute and see the Church as a place where they can develop and further their relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That hope also guides the involvement of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, the fourth parish from the archdiocese taking part in the initiative.

As its pastor, Father Clement Davis says St. Bartholomew is “blessed to have a lot of young adults coming to church”—partially because the parish benefits from “the new hires at Cummins [the major employer in Columbus] who are right out of college.”

Still, with its involvement with the initiative, the parish is hoping to increase its number of young adults.

“We want to see what programs, what kinds of approaches are working with young adults,” Father Davis says. “How do we serve attractive programming over and above the liturgy so they would see themselves spending more time with our community?

“We want to be seen as a welcoming community to many who are not originally from the area. They’re from all parts of the world—Chinese, Indian, African. We want to attract and nourish an age group that is not automatically going to continue in a Catholic faith tradition.”

As the director of the Young Adult Initiative, Michal Horace says the four parishes from central and southern Indiana “represent a diverse cross‑section of the archdiocese with respect to both socio-economic and cultural aspects.”

At the same time, these parishes share a focus that connects them with each other, and with many parishes in central and southern Indiana.

The four archdiocesan parishes “all have great potential for building community and better meeting the spiritual needs within the young adult populations of their parishes,” Horace says. “Our hope is that the successes of these parishes will be shared and duplicated at other parishes in the archdiocese.” †

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