Anthem, the ministry office to youth and young adults in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as reconstituted last year, is kicking off an ambitious series of events over the weekend Oct. 6-8.
They reflect the mission of the ministry as emphasized by the director, Jacob King, assistant director Meghan Mastroianni and events coordinator Abby Gutowski.
While such ministries as CYO, parish youth groups, school youth groups and young adult groups seek to preserve the faith among young people through sports programs, social events, community outreach and religious programs, the goal of Anthem — a name chosen because it has both sacred and secular origins — is mostly about re-evangelization, and the programs reflect that outlook.
Part of the task is training others to be evangelizers and re-evangelizers, but the office intends to be proactive itself – especially through the upcoming events.
- On Friday, Oct. 6 there will be an Oktoberfest celebration for young adults 21 and over at Frankford Hall in the Fishtown section of the city.
- On Saturday evening, Oct. 7 there will be a Youth Night with Ike Ndolo at St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia.
- On Sunday evening, Oct. 8 young adults will consecrate themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the “Queen Takeover” at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
Ike Ndolo, a popular artist who performs Christian music around the country, will be featured at all three events. The son of immigrants from Nigeria, he is also an adjunct worship leader at his Catholic parish in Tempe, Arizona. Very clearly all three events are aimed at different audiences.
Frankford Hall, the site of the Octoberfest celebration at 1210 Frankford Avenue, is both a Stephen Starr venue and a traditional German biergarten that is extremely popular with young adults. The 21-and-over event will have a $25 charge, and is definitely religion soft sell. It will also feature music by Polkadelphia, a traditional Polish-German polka band that slips in fun bits from the Beatles and Radiohead.
“We want our ministry to be evangelistic, we want to reach out to people who have fallen away or who have never been introduced to Jesus, who don’t know the Gospel and have never been shown mercy,” Mastroianni said. “We all need to be evangelizers, we all need to be praying for a hunger for God, a hunger for souls.”
She likens the Frankford Hall event to “the top of a funnel, and the bottom of the funnel is to get people in a relationship with Jesus.”
This event, she believes, “is an opportunity for people to invite a friend or a co-worker who wouldn’t be comfortable with being invited to Mass or even programs like Theology on Tap. Those are very good but we have to be respectful of people and make them comfortable in the place where they are at,” she said.
We live at a time when young adult Catholics are leaving the church in droves, and this is something Anthem especially hopes to address.
“A number of people love the church but they feel judged, like they don’t have a place (because) they are too big a sinner,” Mastroianni said. “People can get turned off because they see all of these rules, all of these things you have to believe and how you should behave. What we want to say first is you have a place no matter what you have done, no matter what you have been through. But people in the church have not always communicated that or portrayed the truth of the mercy of God.”
Mastroianni said many young people think that only if they first accept all the Catholic beliefs and “if you are a good boy or a good girl,” only then are they welcomed into the church.
Anthem’s approach is first to welcome people into the church community and then expose them to church teachings and practices to enter more fully into the life of the church over time.
“We have to meet people in their brokenness,” Mastroianni said. “The church is not just for the healthy, it is a hospital for sinners.”
The youth night at St. Raymond Church at 1350 Vernon Road in Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane neighborhood will begin at 6:45 p.m. It will feature contemporary Christian music by Ndolo, plus praise and worship, and Mastroianni as the featured speaker.
It is not just open for youth of the immediate area but from all over. Similar events in various parts of the archdiocese are coming soon, according to Mastroianni.
The Queen Takeover: Consecration Mass to Our Lady celebrated by Archbishop Charles Chaput at 6:30 p.m. will also include a dedication of the youth and young adults of the archdiocese to the Blessed Mother.
Why a consecration rite for young people to Mary? As the Anthem website explains, “When you need something done, you ask someone who gives a bold yes. Mary’s yes led to Jesus, the one who ultimately satisfies our desires. And that’s why we’re asking Mary to takeover.”
In addition to Ndolo, Bobby Hill, the young soprano who was a sensation when he sang “Pie Jesu” before Pope Francis at the 2015 World Meeting of Families, will also sing.
While the Saturday and Sunday events are open to the public, Anthem advises buying tickets for the Friday event at Frankford Hall in advance because of limited capacity.
For more details visit AnthemPhilly.com and go to the Events tab.