KARASZEWSKI: Encountering, accompanying apostles on their mission

June 12, 2018

I recently had the blessing to be part of the Young Adult Ministry Summit in Washington, D.C. organized by the U.S. bishops. Approximately 130 young adult ministry leaders from across the nation gathered to discuss how to better listen and serve the young adults ages 18 to 39 years old.

The three days were inspired by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel.” The theme was around three concepts: Encounter, accompaniment and mission.

The “Theology of Encounter,” which Pope Francis has been talking about even before he became a pope, is not only to help young adults encounter Jesus in their own lives, but it is actually for us to encounter Jesus in the young adults we serve. To see their gifts and joys as our own gifts and joys, and to see their challenges and struggles as our own challenges and struggles.

This process is slow, but the result is true and long-lasting relationships that build the body of Christ. We need to promote a culture of encounter where we can listen to the stories and journeys of young adults and then share our own stories with them.

We need to promote a culture of encounter where we can listen to the stories and journeys of young adults and then share our own stories with them.

Second is the tool of “accompaniment.” To accompany someone is to walk besides them, shoulder to shoulder, not ahead or behind them. Young adults need people to walk with them, not people to teach them. 

We must accompany young adults during the transitions of their lives: from high school to college, from college to parish life; from being singles to dating, to engagement and marriage. 

We must also accompany the newly married couples and young adults who have divorced; migrated or moved from another city; are discerning their vocation; are currently incarcerated; and many others who are in the peripheries of our communities and we don’t even see within the walls of our parish. 

Third, we spent time thinking on how to provide better service and mission opportunities to young adults. Young adults are full of talents and ready to serve within our parishes, ministries, and also to spread the Good News in their school and work environment.

In a recent Archdiocesan survey, in preparation for the synod, we could hear the voice of many young adults that were practicing Catholics and wanted to serve, but they felt they did not have the skills or did not feel prepared to go and evangelize those around them.

Therefore, this fall we are bringing a nine-week formation program in leadership and evangelization for young adults in their 20s and 30s titled “From Practicing Catholics to Apostles in Mission” in collaboration with the Catholic Apostolate Center. 

This young adult formation program is for young adults to cultivate their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to understand their personal gifts and strengths, and to live out their gifts and strengths in a unique way within their community. 

During these nine weeks, young adults will also have the option to be paired with a mentor that can accompany them in their journey while they discover what is the best way to use their gifts within the ecclesial community and/or in the secular world.

It will be offered in English every Monday night starting Sept. 10 to Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will also be offered in Spanish on Wednesday nights starting Sept. 13. Both will be held at 2403 Holcombe Blvd. in Houston.

For more information and registrations visit www.archgh.org/yacm or call 713-741-8778.

Gabriela Karaszewski is the director of the Archdiocesan office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.