PITTSBURGH, PA

Cultivate program to train future young adult ministers for parishes

Tuesday, December 04, 2018 - Updated: 11:36 am

By Bob De Witt Correspondent

Megan Basch never imagined she would lead a new kind of ministry that is helping younger Catholics like herself come alive in their faith.

But when she learned a few years ago that a young adult group was forming at St. Paul Cathedral, she said the Holy Spirit inspired her to get involved.

Today, Basch leads the core team for Oakland Young Adult Ministry, with more than 40 members taking part in Bible studies, prayer groups, retreats, liturgical ministries, Theology on Tap, service projects and social outings.

“This ministry has helped me to grow tremendously in my own faith,” said Basch, 31, a cardiology research nurse. “It means friendship and love and community and peace.”

She credits Father Kris Stubna and Father Adam Verona with establishing the group and helping it to thrive.

To develop more lay leaders like Basch throughout the six-county region, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is launching a young adult ministry training program that is supported by sacrificial gifts from donors to Our Campaign for The Church Alive!

The collaborative program, called Cultivate, will provide leaders with the knowledge and skills to implement young adult ministry in their parishes or region, according to Jacob Williamson, diocesan director of young adult outreach.

There are more than 530,000 adults in their 20s and 30s in southwestern Pennsylvania, and about 125,000 are Catholic, Williamson said. Diocesan surveys of older parishioners showed their top concern is helping young people grow in the faith.

“We want to raise up leaders who will help make disciples,” he said. “Young adults are looking for something deeper. A life of meaning — a life with Christ.”

The Cultivate program begins with a weekend retreat Jan. 4-6, 2019, followed by six monthly sessions that include ministry strategies, developmental growth of a disciple and social media outreach.

“It’s important to understand the needs of young people,” Williamson said. “They can be single or married. Some are parents. They work in white-collar jobs, the trades or are in graduate school.

“This collaborative will give leaders important tools for ministry and the theology behind it to serve diverse groups,” he said.

In the past, many younger Catholics drifted away from the church during their high school and college years, but returned to the faith when they married and started families. That is not always the case today.

A 2016 Gallup report titled “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” found young adults are less attached to religious affiliations, but are optimistic and want a purpose in life.

Joni Mulvaney, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry at Holy Sepulcher Parish in Glade Mills (Butler County), said she looks for ways to connect and build relationships through spiritual and social encounters like Mass & Apps, which includes an evening liturgy and appetizers at a local restaurant.

“You have to get to know them and walk with them as a friend,” she said.

“We’ve had some cool conversations about how they’ve encountered God and seen him at work in their lives,” Mulvaney said. “This is a vital ministry.”

“We meet people where they’re at in their spiritual growth,” Basch said. “It’s an important community of support and friendship.”

To learn more about young adult ministry and Cultivate, visit https://diopitt.org/yam.


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