Perhaps unusual for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary was the sight last Saturday morning, April 30, of young moms and dads pushing baby carriages and holding the hands of their little ones along paths where men studying for the priesthood normally walk.
About 130 Catholic young adults of the Culture Project — whose goal is to restore the culture of life in America — prayed together at a Mass celebrated by the seminary’s rector, Bishop Timothy Senior, then enjoyed brunch and a programs of talks by inspiring speakers.
The Philadelphia-based Culture Project, with teams in Los Angeles, Long Island and Florida, emphasizes human dignity and sexual integrity by reminding people of their value and purpose as being created from love and for love.
The nonprofit organization works to engage today’s young people with that mission personally through its missionaries and through the media.
As its website states, “The Culture Project envisions a world where the dignity of the human person is at the forefront of every relationship, law, and societal structure. Through conversation, friendship and speaking to our peers around the world, we hope to restore a culture fully alive.”
This year alone, Culture Project missionaries have spoken at 205 schools and venues, given 744 presentations, encountered 36,000 individuals and reached more than 7 million people through social media.
The costs for Saturday’s event were covered by donations from benefactors, just as donations aid the organization’s continued growth, according to organizer Emily Bianco.
Culture Project missionary Alan Crush spoke to the attendees about his experiences, which he described as “an incredible adventure.”
Living in community with other missionaries has been rewarding for him, and he relished the different backgrounds of each person and how they came together as a team. Community life, like a family, gave him a resource while living the missionary life.
Formation in the Christian life has been integral in giving Crush confidence to relate on an interpersonal level with someone who is “not yet pro-life,” he said, or even considering how to heal from abortion.
His time as a Culture Project missionary made him feel truly Catholic and he was able to encounter Jesus authentically, he said, adding that encountering others taught him who he is as a person.
Prayer is also an important part of the missionary life, and Crush said it helped him realize that he could lift up others as he reached them through talks to groups and individual counseling.
The brunch’s keynote speaker, Sister Maria Kateri, a Sister of Life from New York City, zeroed in on a particular trait of Philadelphia-area Catholics. She recalled how Philadelphians connect with each other by what parish they belong to, and her eyes twinkled as she spoke about her parish life growing up in South Philly.
When she was young, all of her relatives would gather at her grandmother’s house in South Philly to share a Sunday meal. No matter what was going on in life no one, regardless of their age, missed that Sunday meal together. Her message was strong: God provides a time to gather as a family and share a meal every Sunday, and we shouldn’t miss it.
Sister Maria reminded us that the Lord himself is the master architect of the culture of life. He unites with us to rebuild through him and him alone. She told the audience that God will work through every individual to use their hands to reach people, their lips to speak to people and their eyes to reflect God in them.
Addressing the young Millennials in the room, she spoke about vacations, tanning and immersing themselves in the sun, but when they receive the Son they become aglow in his love.
Sister Maria encouraged the audience not become discouraged when meeting people who are pro-choice, and to remember that they are “not yet pro-life.”
She ended her speech calling attention to how the sacrifices, loving efforts and prayer of each person are fruitful and never in vain.
More information including how to schedule a school or parish visit by the Culture Project is on the website RestoreCulture.com.