August 11, 2006

The missing link: Mass, fellowship give young adults chance to build community

By Natalie DeHart
Special to The Criterion

It’s Sunday evening. A young woman turns her attention from the meal she is about to eat and observes those sharing the meal with her.

Many of them are also young adults. Their occupations, talents and income vary, but they share three things in common: their young age, their faith and the desire to share that faith with other young adults.

She thinks of the supper she will share with her peers shortly, then turns her attention back to the meal at hand as Father Jonathan Meyer says, “This is my body,” and raises the most sacred host.

Two meals involving hospitality, community and nourishment. Two meals shared by young Catholic adults at the monthly Archdiocese of Indianapolis Young Adult Mass (YAM).

Geared to Catholics between the ages of 18 and 40, YAM is held the second Sunday of each month at 6 p.m. at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. Mass is followed by a meal at the parish, where participants enjoy homemade food, conversation and the opportunity to learn about the various Catholic groups and events for their age group throughout the archdiocese.

YAM was started in the fall of 2003. Many were involved in the forming of this monthly gathering, but Theresa Sanchez initiated the process.

Sanchez grew up in Chicago, where she enjoyed Theology on Tap and the city’s young adult Mass. She moved to Indianapolis in the fall of 2002. She attended Theology on Tap here and got involved in the Frassati Society of Young Adults Catholics in the Lafayette Diocese, but she was still missing “something.”

“I felt like there was something missing at Mass for my peers,” said Sanchez, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.

“Mass for young adults should have a liturgy that speaks to them, and good music, and someone to welcome them, and time to meet and talk after Mass. So I got some friends from Frassati and Theology on Tap together and asked, ‘Am I the only one who feels this way?’ ”

Sanchez discovered she was not alone.

She and others—including Adelina Mejia-Zelaya, Alex and Nichole Scheidler, Kevin McDowell and Nick Batta—met with several priests appointed by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein. The priests gave their blessing on the group and the idea, and YAM moved from concept to reality.

In the last two years, YAM has moved from Marian College to St. Mary Catholic Church, both in Indianapolis, to its current home, Our Lady of the Greenwood Church, with the generous support of the parish’s pastor, Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf.

Archbishop Buechlein continued to show his support for the group in April by celebrating the Palm Sunday Mass for YAM. Five other priests concelebrated with the archbishop, further demonstrating the growing interest and concern that the archdiocese has for its young adults.

According to YAM co-director Matt State, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, “It was a spiritually uplifting experience for all who attended.”

Matt Scheidler is the group’s co-director, in conjunction with other YAM committee members. They may be the organizers, but they are not YAM.

“All young adults are members,” said Scheidler, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield. “We’re not a separate group, but simply a gathering of young Catholic adults meeting and networking. It’s nice to have a young adult event available that is first centered around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Members are encouraged to participate in YAM—both in the eucharistic meal and the meal that follows. Members proclaim the readings, sing and play music at the liturgy. After Mass, YAM members also help with meal preparation and in welcoming new members.

“I highly recommend it,” said YAM participant Christina McDougall.

“It’s a great way to recharge your batteries spiritually. There’s an energy that comes from this age group that enhances the gathering.”

As for the young woman mentioned at the beginning of the story, she now stands with her peers.

“The Mass has ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

She and the other young adults respond with a spirited, heartfelt “Thanks be to God.”

And their first stop to love and serve the Lord—in community with their peers—is at the meal just down the stairs.

(Natalie DeHart, who regularly attends the archdiocese’s Young Adult Mass, is also a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. Learn more about young adult activities and groups within the archdiocese.) †


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