Saturday, December 30, 2017 - Updated: 11:59 pm
Bishop David Zubik told the young adults gathered before him that a vibrant church is one that is collaborative, consists of people of courage and has people who know what it means to be compassionate.
The bishop was the guest speaker at a Pub Theology gathering Dec. 20 at Somma Pizza and Sports Bar in Verona. Young adults (18-30s) meet there every other week on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. to discuss topics relevant to their lives.
“I really love what I’m doing, and I’m willing to put my life on the line for what I love,” he said, noting that society is losing an appreciation for what it means to be loyal and show commitment.
He asked the young adults how the church can reach out to them and get them more interested in the faith. One young woman pointed to the recent Amen to Action ecumenical gathering in which 3,000 people made more than 1 million meals for the needy. It was a good example of how commonalities can be emphasized over differences.
Bishop Zubik agreed, adding, “It says a lot about the people of Pittsburgh that they would come out on a Black Friday.”
Another woman pointed to the Catholic Women’s Fellowship Conference as a good way to get them involved. It was something that she would like to see more of, and others noted that fellowship with people of all ages is needed, especially with families.
Many young adults shy away from the conservative political views of the church, one person said, and some support abortion rights and homosexual marriage.
Bishop Zubik responded that people must show courage in standing up for the truths that the church teaches. He added that the church has been an advocate for issues such as immigrant rights, support for the unemployed and for unmarried pregnant women.
Others pointed out that they don’t feel the church is getting a “fair shake” from the media, and they wish it would speak out more to defend itself. In particular, they noted that the Catholic Church is often portrayed as demonizing the homosexual community, but that is not reality.
A young man noted that many of his friends are going to other churches because they feel their services are more uplifting. Bishop Zubik responded by pointing to the recent prayer and praise gathering at St. Paul Cathedral that attracted a large audience. But while music is nice, he noted, the real draw is the focus on Christ.
“If we really believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, how could we possibly exempt ourselves from that experience?”
It is not only important to get people into churches, the bishop said, but to make them feel welcome. It is something that the church “has failed miserably at” in the past, he said.
Regular adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be one of the keys to the success of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, Bishop Zubik noted. When one of the young men spoke of the desire to promote more opportunities for Eucharistic adoration, the bishop responded with an enthusiastic, “I’m really with you on that, brother.”
The bishop was joined by Father Michael Ackerman, vocations director, and Father Kevin Poecking, administrator of St. John the Baptist Parish in Plum. Several members of the audience expressed their hope that young adults could have more access to priests outside of the context of the liturgy. One of the On Mission goals is to take many of the administrative duties away from priests and put them in the hands of capable laypeople, Bishop Zubik said.
For more information about Pub Theology and other young adult events, go to https://diopitt.org/yaevents.