Connecting young adults to Christ and His Church encourages lifelong faith

September 27, 2022

Café Catholica, the popular young adult summer speaker series, is an opportunity for the young adult community to gather in prayer, grow in faith and connect. The next event is set for Nov. 3, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Café Catholica)

HOUSTON — Accompanying young adults on their faith journeys means creating space for worship, prayer and community to encourage active, lifelong relationships with Christ and His Church.

The Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry (YACM) in the Archdiocese seeks to provide a home for all young adults within the Catholic Church in their late teens, 20s and 30s. One of 64 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), YACM serves about 7,000 young adults through programs and services provided at five college campuses and more than 60 parishes across the Archdiocese.

Angie Pometto, director of the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry, said recent surveys show that when young people go off to college, a high percentage stop practicing their faith. But they may not realize how the Campus Ministry staff can support these students as they grow in their faith and discern their vocation during this integral and challenging time of their lives.

“Anyone who supports DSF is directly supporting the work of keeping Catholic college students connected and engaged in their faith,” said Pometto. “If they can remain faithful in college, there’s a high likelihood that they will remain active into their young adult years and seek God’s will when deciding on careers, where to live, and vocations to marriage, priesthood or religious life.”

Angelica Sanchez discovered a “home away from home” during her freshman year at the University of Houston Catholic Newman Center. She felt that it was a safe place for her to express her thoughts, values and beliefs. Growing up in small Catholic schools and transitioning to a large, public university, she wanted to connect and find a faith family who encouraged her and supported her in a way that she had never experienced before.

“As a commuter student, having a place to go to between classes or after long days has been a blessing,” said Sanchez. “I’ve had the opportunity to attend daily Mass during the week, receive a free lunch, attend Adoration, and visit the chapel that is always available for me to have a moment with God in a quiet space. I have created lifelong friendships and found mentors to help me grow as a young adult in my relationship with God and guide me on my spiritual journey.”

Sanchez also learned about evangelization through her involvement with the Newman Center. She witnessed friends convert to Catholicism, rely on each other through prayer in difficult times, and create lifelong memories and friendships. She said being a part of this community was an experience she always longed for and didn’t even realize it.

“Not only could I share my faith within the Newman Center, but I was encouraged to share it with the community of the University of Houston,” said Sanchez. “I made the choice to attend a large university, so I could meet different people and learn about different cultures and beliefs. I now realize it was the Holy Spirit creating this burning desire within me to go out and evangelize, and without this campus ministry, I do not know how I would have been able to fulfill that calling at UH.”

Pometto said the five campus ministry centers have a long and rich history of supporting students like Sanchez, some for more than six decades. The Rice University Newman Center was founded first in 1959, followed by the Galveston Newman Center (1960), University of Houston Newman Center (1961), Texas Southern University Newman Center (1967), and Sam Houston State Catholic Student Center (1986).
“I was recently cleaning the director’s office at the University of Houston Newman Center and found a list of people in vocations who had come from alumni there,” said Pometto. “It was a long list, and after such a long history, I know there have been many vocations—priesthood, religious, and married life, which have come from each of those centers.”

Another YACM program with a long-standing tradition is Café Catholica, an annual summer series running strong for the past 23 years. It offers young adults across the Archdiocese opportunities to hear dynamic speakers, pray, and enjoy fellowship together.

Fabiana Toro, a young adult from St. Faustina Catholic Church in Fulshear has attended Café Catholica, YACM retreats, leadership workshops, and events since 2018, when she began graduate school. She eventually began to volunteer at these events and at her parish’s young adult group.

“These programs created a safe space for me to go deeper into my faith, make holy friendships, discern how God is calling me to serve in my vocation, and actually put it all into action at my parish and in the Archdiocese,” said Toro. “I feel so blessed that God put these resources and people in my life!”

Toro said her experience with YACM made her realize the importance to donate to the DSF. She pointed out young adults will eventually be 50 or 60 or 70 years old, so efforts to shepherd the next generation to listen to the Lord’s voice and discern their call will help change the future.

“To be good stewards of God’s gifts means that we are administrators who serve and give back,” said Toro. “There are so many good things happening in the Archdiocese and our contributions, whether big or small, make a life-long impact on how those in leadership positions can administer to the needs of us all. I give (to the DSF) because I am grateful, and I want to give back to God and to my brothers and sisters the love that I have experienced myself.”

To learn more about YACM for young adults on college campuses and young adult ministries at parishes, visit www.archgh.org/yacm.
To donate to the DSF, visit to www.archgh.org/dsf. The DSF supports ministries that require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.