Anthem, the ministry for young adults in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will celebrate a special tribute to Archbishop Charles Chaput at St. Patrick Church near Rittenhouse Square on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in honor of his milestone 75th birthday, Sept. 26.
The evening will feature adoration, confession and worship music, featuring Archbishop Chaput of course, up-and-coming Catholic singer-songwriter from Ohio, Taylor Tripodi; and Curtis Martin, head of FOCUS, the organization that sends Catholic missionaries to college campuses.
St. Patrick’s is an ideal location because many members of its worshiping community are young faculty members and students from the three universities just across the Schuylkill River – Penn, Drexel and the University of the Sciences.
The celebration at St. Patrick should end around 9 p.m., and because that is when young people are just starting their evening, the party will continue at a young adult hangout, Lucky Strike Philadelphia, at 1336 Chestnut Street. It features 24 bowling lanes, billiards, ping pong, a DJ, two bars and much more.
Now if this doesn’t sound much like evangelization, remember Christ began his public ministry at a wedding reception, and his first public miracle was turning water into wine just so the hosts would not be embarrassed, and the party could go on.
Sure, probably half the guests thought it was just a trick, including those who drank the bar dry in the first place, but it must have been a great way for Jesus to attract followers, even if that wasn’t his purpose.
Sport fishermen use hooks, but professionals use nets which are much more efficient. Maybe that’s why Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee to recruit his first Apostles.
When the leaders at Anthem host the after party at a bowling emporium, think of it as casting a net. Not everyone in the net will be open to evangelization, suitable for ministry or willing to take that huge step by putting God first in their life, but some surely may.
One of the greatest challenges for the church in America, and one suspects in many other countries, is how to retain young adults. More often than not these days, even growing up with regular church attendance with their family, young adults very quickly fall away from religious practice once they attain independence, according to Jacob King. He has headed Anthem ever since it was introduced in the archdiocese by Archbishop Chaput four years ago.
It is this demographic that Anthem is seeking to evangelize. But its efforts are not just to have people to sit in pews on Sunday zoning out during the homily.
“There are people who go to Mass every Sunday and do not believe they can have a personal relationship with God. They are missing something,” King said. “What we are finding in our parishes is that 95 percent of the people are not disciples, they have not given their life to Jesus.
“In evangelization somebody must be willing to give their life for Jesus. Until that moment enters into their life they are not going to enter into discipleship.”
A daring challenge, but not an impossible dream.
King knows of what he speaks. As a very young man his faith wavered, and he could have been lost to the church. Now married to his wife Ashley for eight years, they are raising three children, Rosie, Noah and Zelie, in the faith with a fourth on the way. He knows from personal experience.
“Young adults are a lot of times the most neglected in the church,” he said. “There is a huge gap between campus ministry and family ministry.”
A real focus for Anthem is identifying and training full-time and part-time youth ministers and young adult ministers.
“Every year we hope to evangelize and train 15 leaders,” King said. “So far, we have had 45 people apply. In 10 years we hope to have 200. We have to put all of our efforts into evangelization. If we don’t, we will lose them, and it will be much harder to get them back. We have to take risks; we can’t play it safe.”
With that kind of drive and vision, it is not an impossible dream.
Interested in joining the Anthem ministry team? Read their invitation (via Facebook):
We’re forming a team of 10-12 leaders, ages 21-35, to help us live out our vision to evangelize Philly. Interested?
What You’ve Got:
– Passion for evangelizing other young adults.
– An intuitive understanding of millennials.
– Recognition of the importance of service to others, especially the most vulnerable and neglected.
– A desire to continue growing spiritually.
– A heart for prayer.
– Zeal for creating relationships and community.
– A willingness to take risks in evangelizing.
What You’ll Do:
– Evangelize. Heal. Disciple.
– Develop relationships with other young adults.
– Team up with others to host Alpha in your community.
– Plan and host service opportunities.
– Throw and attend kick-ass parties to help form relationships with people outside church circles.
– Assist in planning an annual young adult retreat.
– Join strategy sessions on how to evangelize other young adults.
What We’ll Provide:
– $1500 a year stipend
– Top-notch training in evangelization, healing and discipleship.
– Community (so you’re not doing any of this alone).
Think you’d be a great fit? Contact Megan Mastroianni at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know a few reasons why you’d like to be a part of this.
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