August 21, 2009

Catholic Education Outreach / Mary Schaffner

Young adult and college campus ministry is up and running

Mary SchaffnerArchbishop Daniel M. Buechlein’s love for and dedication to our young adults is evident, and this has proved very fruitful over this past year.

On July 1, 2008, the archbishop asked Father Rick Nagel to take charge of the challenging and exciting ministry to our young people by appointing him director of what is now Young Adult and College Campus Ministry in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education.

Father Nagel, along with me as program coordinator, set out seeking to understand the young people of our archdiocese, visiting with them on college campuses as well as at many young adult gatherings. We spent time being present among them, getting to know them, and listening to their needs and desires as young adult Catholics.

As the year progressed, the young people participated in many activities. They gathered in prayer at young adult Masses, traveled by plane to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, and ran the good race for vocations at the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May in Indianapolis, just to mention a few things.

Most of all, our young adults warmed the hearts of the many people who were present along the way, including Archbishop Buechlein, who was present to our young people at many of these events.

Our young adults are an energetic group, who bring much joy and hope to the people they encounter and the parish communities to which they belong. They have a natural spirit of generosity and a deep love of their Catholic faith, particularly as it relates to the Eucharist and their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

They strive to take to heart the words that Pope Benedict XVI shared on his visit to the United States in 2008 when he said, “Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation and your participation in the Church’s liturgy bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others.”

Our young adults have many good things to offer in service to our Church that flow out of their worship and personal relationship with God.

Looking to the future, the archbishop recently appointed Father Nagel as the chaplain at Indiana University–Purdue University in Indianapolis (IUPUI) to minister to and be present as Church on this growing campus of more than 30,000 students.

Father Nagel will also be assisting Father Stephen Giannini, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in downtown Indianapolis, which will become a central gathering point for our young adults seeking a spiritual home.

Every Sunday, young adults of the archdiocese are invited to attend the 7 p.m. Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church to be with other young adults and spend time socializing afterward.

Father Nagel and I have also spent time visiting with the priests of the various deaneries, listening to their thoughts and ideas for how to better invite our young people into parish life.

From this and other information gathered, a vision can be laid out to welcome our young people with open arms, nourish them within the eucharistic life of the parish, and evangelize our communities with their unique gifts and talents.

Archbishop Buechlein recently set a date in September for an “Archbishop’s Bash,” inviting young adults to his residence to celebrate Mass, learn of some of the various charisms in our archdiocese that they can be involved in, share a meal and simply enjoy their company.

His joy and love of this generation of Catholics is evident—and contagious!

(Mary Schaffner is program coordinator for young adult and college campus ministry in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education.)

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