A health scare can be the catalyst a person needs to make positive changes in his or her lifestyle. In a similar way, that has been the reality for members of Our Lady of Charity Parish in Brookhaven. The “health” of the parish was tenuous, and closure was a looming possibility last year.
Our Lady of Charity survived the close call, and since then the parish has experienced a resurgence that has been rooted in evangelization.
Part of the rejuvenation process is an outreach to youth and young adults in the parish. Jessica DuBois, 23, a lifelong parishioner and graduate of the now-closed Our Lady of Charity School, volunteered to help initiate a ministry to youth and young adults.
A kick off meeting was held after the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Feb. 16. “We had a really good turnout; I was happy with that,” said DuBois, noting that approximately 25 people attended the meeting. “We talked about what our plan is for the coming months.”
Her impetus for volunteering comes from a love for her parish and the lack of opportunities for young adults to participate in faith sharing, service projects and social activities.
“I started thinking this parish means so much to me that I want to do whatever I can to help it to stay open and running for as long as possible,” she said. “I knew that if I wanted something (for young adults) there must be a few other people my age who wanted the same thing.”
DuBois said faith sharing is an important component of the outreach to young adults. “I wanted to create a community where we could talk about our faith and build each other up in our faith,” she added. “I really would love to see people who might not have had the opportunity to grow in their faith to really take ownership of their faith journey – instead of it being something they learned in school and then forget about.”
After meeting with Father Brian Izzo, pastor of Our Lady of Charity, and Gina Mesko, evangelization coordinator at the parish, DuBois said the plan is to create their own youth and young adult ministry and also “team up with other parishes that have strong youth or young adult ministries.”
Those nearby parishes are Nativity B.V.M. and St. Mary Magdalen in Media and St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford.
During the kick-off meeting, Legionnaire of Christ Father Peter Huynh and Danielle Gallo from St. Mary Magdalen, Julia White from St. John Chrysostom, and Jenny Pondo from Nativity spoke about their ministries to youth and young adults.
Mesko noted that the OLC youth and young adult ministry will focus on offering a variety of opportunities both within the parish and beyond.
“We didn’t want to throw out a zillion things and overwhelm ourselves,” she said. “We wanted to look at what everyone else is offering and say, ‘What we can offer youth and young adults in the local area?’”
DuBois said they eventually expect to have volunteers who will be involved with planning programs and activities.
Mesko called DuBois’s involvement in this ministry a “huge blessing.”
“Jess has a very gentle Christ-like spirit that is so attractive to youth,” Mesko added. “She’s very open to ideas. There couldn’t have been a better pick as far as someone to encourage people to participate but in a very gentle way.”
Elena Perri is a freelance writer in Havertown.