Faithful do good works, share resources with thousands through 2019 DSF

August 13, 2019

HOUSTON — The faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continue to bind together to do good works and share resources with thousands in their communities by participating in the annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). 

According to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, these gifts of time and treasure are sacrifices that please God and reflect the 2019 theme, “Do Not Neglect to Share What You Have” (Hebrews 13:16).

He emphasized that all donations to the DSF support programs and services offered by 60 ministries, which assist thousands of individuals and families living in parishes and neighborhoods located within the Archdiocese. As in past years, no funds are spent on the administration of the Chancery.

One ministry supported by these generous gifts to the DSF is the Young Adult and Campus Ministry. Thousands of young adults, ages 18 to 39, are impacted by this ministry at parishes and college campuses within the Archdiocese each year.

According to Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate Director Mirna Ochoa, the ministry strives to provide worship, formation and fellowship opportunities, including retreats and conferences, for young adults so they may encounter God with and through each other.

The ministry also teaches young adults how to support and serve their parishes and Church. On college campuses, the ministry strives to help young adults discern their vocation and question and grow in their faith during a critical and challenging time of their lives.

Gabriela Karaszewski, director of the Young Adult and Campus Ministry, said the ministry also strives to provide resources to help new high school graduates, college students and all young adults during various transitions in life. This includes those staring a new career or those that do not have the opportunity to go to college and instead join the workforce immediately.

She said that, to better provide for the needs of this growing population, the ministry strives to better educate parishes in the Archdiocese about the various programs and services it offers to help them start and maintain their own parish programs.

Karaszewski also emphasized that it is the responsibility of all the parish staff and people of God to keep this population in the forefront as programs and services are developed.

“I see many opportunities to serve young adults in the Archdiocese, starting with our recently apostolic exhortation from the Vatican Christus Vivit that exhorts all the people of God to listen and accompany youth and young adults,” she said.

Karaszewski said since youth and young adults are leaving the Church in faster rates each year, many right after they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation between the ages of 13 to 23. Because of this, the Young Adult and Campus Ministry becomes essential in forming those who are still active in their faith and reaching out to those who are not active and need to be welcomed back into their parishes.

“We see an opportunity to create a paradigm shift in our parishes by providing much more outreach to young adults that are no longer in our pews,” said Karaszewski. “We search for new opportunities in parish programs and other programs we can accommodate to serve their needs better.”

Karaszewski said another challenge is that the vast majority of young adults in the Archdiocese, ages 18 to 25, are Hispanics born in the United States.

“A new reality facing our Archdiocese is the need to learn a lot more about this population and serve them better,” Karaszewski said. “We have been great with programs serving Hispanic Spanish-speaking young adults, such as the Pastoral Juvenil program, and English-speaking Young Catholic Professionals program. A new challenge for us is learning how to better welcome these second- and third-generation Hispanics into our communities so they feel at home.”

Ochoa said as a result of this growing segment, most programs and services offered by the Young Adult and Campus Ministry are available in both English and Spanish. An example is the new formation program called From Practicing Catholics to Apostles on Mission (De Católicos Practicantes a Apóstoles Misioneros) in which approximately 60 young adults attended both sessions.

“Through formation programs like this, we realize the importance of accompaniment and mentorship with and to our young adults,” said Ochoa. “Because of the success and interest from the participants, we plan to offer this opportunity again in the near future.”

Ochoa said the Young Adult and Campus Ministry also held a bilingual Archdiocesan Young Adult Day the same day as World Youth Day last January, with more than 400 registered young adults. The ministry also held the annual Eucharist Vigil (Vigilia Pastoral) on the same night, with approximately 1,200 people attending.

“Another new program offered is Café Catholic North, a talk series held in January and February this year in the northern part of our Archdiocese, as well as our Café Catholica talk series during the summer,” said Ochoa. “These have attracted about 900 young adults each week, 3,200 for the entire four-week program. We are starting Café Lite every two months beginning this September to cover more regions in the Archdiocese, in addition to the summer series currently offered downtown.”

Ochoa said the Young Adult and Campus Ministry also has programs to help encourage more Hispanic young adults to become leaders in their parishes and communities.

“We offer Curso de Formación en Pastoral Juvenil in the spring and fall each year in Spanish,” said Ochoa. “We have been able to provide this formation opportunity for about 10 years and continue to see the importance of forming our Hispanic young adults into parish leaders. We focus on empowering them to believe in themselves and others and stress the importance of delegating work and encouraging collaboration within their ministries.”

As one of the 60 ministries supported by the DSF, the Young Adult and Campus Ministry’s budget depends heavily on the generous contributions given by the faithful, especially due to an increase in need and growth within this population.

“It is important for the faithful in the Archdiocese to understand that their contributions truly make a difference in the quality and quantity of the programs and services offered by our ministry,” said Ochoa. “Our young adults are and will continue to be leaders of our parishes and Church. Young adults that love God will help transmit that love to other young adults, their families, relatives and all the communities in which they are involved.”

Cardinal DiNardo said that supporting the DSF brings Catholics closer together in the local Church and demonstrates God’s mercy, love and compassion to the most vulnerable and needy.

“The DSF is one way we can all share in the collective service to people in need in our own Archdiocese,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “All those who benefit truly appreciate gifts to the DSF, I ask the faithful today to not neglect to share what they have with others and to make a gift to the DSF.

To learn more about the 2019 DSF, Young Adult and Campus Ministry and additional ministries supported by the fund, visit online.