Young adults learn how to blend faith, busy lives

Friday, July 19, 2019 - Updated: 2:41 pm

By Theresa Sullivan Correspondent

When Evan Marone began working in Downtown Pittsburgh, a family friend who is a priest recommended that he check out the Young Catholic Professionals of Pittsburgh. Attending Wednesday noon Masses at St. Mary of Mercy Church with the group proved a game-changer in Marone’s faith life.

“When I saw other young people at Mass, it reaffirmed my faith. In a time of such turmoil in the Catholic Church, it’s important to see people who make practicing their faith a priority,” said Marone, who works in wealth mangement for PNC Financial Services Group.

He befriended other young Catholic professionals and started going to daily Mass, not only on Wednesdays but whenever he could. Marone’s interactions with the organization spurred him to practice his faith more actively, he said.

For seven years, the YCPP has offered a Catholic community to young professionals who work downtown. It gives them a place to form genuine friendships and grow in their faith amid busy work schedules. More than 500 young professionals keep up with YCPP through its weekly e-mails and its Facebook channels. Events attract 10 to 25 people on average.

“It’s really difficult to make friends as a professional,” said Sean Hannon, senior associate in PNC’s Debt Capital Markets Group, who heads up the YCPP leadership team. “I hope this group bridges that gap and helps people to feel welcomed, loved and comfortable, and to grow in their faith.”

YCPP began as a group of young people who wanted to bolster each other in their Catholic identity by meeting for monthly lunches. The group’s activities evolved to encompass additional events, including the Wednesday Masses at St. Mary of Mercy, monthly summer happy hours and a semiannual Business Leader Breakfast Series.

Hannon said the varied events allow the group to adapt to young adults’ diverse schedules.

“We try to have events in the morning, afternoon and night to meet each person’s schedule. We don’t expect everyone to come to each event,” he said.

Kathryn Egan, who works in PNC’s Treasury Management Sales Enablement Group, serves on the leadership team and acknowledged the difficulty that people of faith often face when working in the secular sphere. YCPP’s Business Leader Breakfast, held at the Allegheny HYP Club, addresses this difficulty by hosting religious, financial, legal and business leaders who share their experiences of living as a Catholic professional.

“They have really great tactical information to give us on how to incorporate faith into daily life,” Egan said.

Will Fitzgerald, tax accountant with Schneider Downs & Co. Inc., enjoys the fellowship that young professionals share after Wednesday Mass. It has made him more aware of young peoples’ responsibility to actively spread Catholicism.

“I feel more empowered that the young millennials will be involved in the church. Meeting these young people downtown gives you the faith that the church is moving forward,” he said.

Shannon Monaghan had heard about YCPP activities for several years and was glad to begin attending events last year when she started working downtown as a development and program assistant with the Extra Mile Education Foundation. She strives to attend daily Mass, and knowing she will see friends on Wednesdays keeps her accountable to that commitment, she said.

“The special thing about the Wednesday Mass is seeing familiar people. Having that quick chat with them after Mass really resets me for the rest of the afternoon and the week,” Monaghan said.

When downtown passers-by see joyful young adults eating lunch or having drinks after work, Hannon hopes they inquire as to the source of that joy.

“The goal of the group is to make the faith attractive through joy. We don’t lead with the faith; we lead with joy. But the reason for our joy is our faith,” he said.

To learn more about YCPP events or join the e-mail list, e-mail ycppittsburgh@gmail.com.

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