October 25, 2019

Faley savors ‘the gift’ of helping young adults grow closer to God

Matt Faley, archdiocesan director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, mingles with the crowd during a Theology on Tap gathering on June 12 in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Matt Faley, archdiocesan director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, mingles with the crowd during a Theology on Tap gathering on June 12 in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

For 10 years, Matt Faley has been involved in trying to bring young adults and college students in the archdiocese into a closer relationship with God and the Church.

During that time, Faley has also seen his own faith life grow and develop as he has made the transitions from being single to being married and the father of three small children.

As Faley marks his 10th year, The Criterion invited the archdiocese’s director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry to reflect on his own faith journey and the efforts to help those in the 18-35 age group on their faith journeys.

Q. From your perspective as the director of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, what are young adults mostly seeking in their lives, and how can the Church help them in that search?

A. “Community. That word encompasses many things—desires for connection, real friendship, vocation, desires to be seen, loved and known. All of these things exist within the daily life of a young adult navigating deep questions of existence and purpose. God is a communion of love, and we spend our entire lives in search of that communion. But young adults are existing in a time in history where communion and community look so differently and are often difficult to find.

“Within these new realities of community, the Church stands out as a light in the darkness even more. All of these things that they innately desire are here in the Church. We only have to go out and find them, invite them, accompany them and give them a place in the life of the Church to use their gifts and charisms. This is our mission.”

Q. With college students settling into their daily schedules and routines by now, what advice do you have for them to keep a focus on their faith as an important part of their lives?

A. “If I was speaking to college Matt, I would say three things: Use this time well, you are not as busy as you think you are, and the world needs the gifts that God gave you and he wants to reveal them to you. I offer the same advice now. Like any season in life, you will not get this time back. College has an opportunity to be such a formative time in your lives. It is almost like a four- to five-year pilgrimage if we allow it to be.

“Use your time well by forming good relationships that lead you closer to Jesus because that will ultimately lead you to a fuller revelation of yourself. God has amazing plans for your life, and the fruits of these gifts are ready to be uncovered as gifts to the Church and to the world.”

Q. Five years ago, you started the young adult intramural program in the archdiocese. What has been its impact from a social and faith perspective?

A. “Greater than we could have ever expected. I remember feeling that nudge in my prayer life that we needed to start IndyCatholic Intramurals. It just seemed obvious at the time. We look back at it now and see why the Lord asked us to get this started. We have seen incredible fruit. It builds a sense of community and connection amongst practicing Catholics and the searching alike. We’ve had marriages, folks that enter in the Church through RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] and everything in-between.

“We also structure the rest of our program year around these sports so that there is an invitation made to go deeper. Whether joining a small group that we call Emmaus Group, coming to a retreat or attending a night of eucharistic adoration that we call First Fridays, Intramurals allows an open door to a deepening relationship with Jesus and the Church that did not exist before we started the program.”

Q. What are some upcoming programs and developments that are planned in young adult and college campus ministry in the archdiocese?

A. “We are always asking, ‘What next?’ And each new year has brought new grace. We have grown tremendously over the last few years with 5,000 people coming through our programs. We want to make sure we do not rest on those gifts that the Lord has given us and that young adults are being accompanied and not just invited. For now, that means further investment in a vision for evangelization and discipleship.

“Programmatically, that is taking place mainly through what we call Emmaus Groups. These are small group Bible studies that serve as our most fruitful and intimate engagement with young adults. We have groups meeting all over the archdiocese in many different contexts. We also will be continuing to pour our efforts into service to our parishes.

“One thing we are most excited about is the piloting and expansion of Deanery Young Adult Ministry. We are still in the planning and proposal stage, but we see the Lord making a way for us to serve parishes and young adults alike more effectively on a regional level.”

Q. You’re in your 10th year of being involved in young adult ministry in the archdiocese. During that time, you’ve gone from being single to getting married to now being a married father of three small children. How has your own faith evolved through those changes, and how does your experience in those different stages help you to assist young adults across the spectrum to grow in their faith?

A. “So much life has happened for me in these last 10 years. I went from being a transplant to Indianapolis to single and seeking, to married and now a father of three children. I then navigated parish life, led a small group, discerned my gifts and everything in-between. It has been a gift to do this alongside so many other young adults and use my story as a witness.

“On top of that, these 10 years have allowed me to build so many connections with young adults, priests and parish staff of the archdiocese. The benefit of being here so long is that I am able to know the culture of the archdiocese in an intimate way and to see a long-term vision of how we can grow this ministry. It has been an incredible season in my life, and I will be here until God tells me its time.”

(For more information about the archdiocese’s Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, visit the website, www.indycatholic.org.)

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