Transfigure, a Catholic young adult group in Bucks County, is building an intentional community of young adults and inspiring parishioners of St. Andrew in Newtown, in the process.
The group meets every Sunday at 8 p.m. for events focused on faith, fellowship and fun. Two breakout groups within Transfigure — Overcome for men, and Radiant for women — provide a small group for faith-sharing and Bible study on additional nights of the week.
“When I come here, I can be my true self,” said Allison Ivcic, a member of Radiant and business manager for Transfigure.
The idea for Transfigure was born when Father Kyle Adamczyk, a chaplain for Transfigure and parochial vicar at St. Andrew’s, noticed many young adults wanting to grow in their faith.
Early Transfigure meetings drew young adults not just from St. Andrew’s, but surrounding parishes as far as New Jersey. The group, which is open to Catholics and non-Catholics, now has 90 members who receive regular updates.
Members say the strong friendships they form are also guiding them in their faith.
Carolyn Gerber, a member of Radiant and on the board of directors for Transfigure, said she was always faithful but would “wax and wane” from the church. Transfigure brought her back to “the community of the church.”
It can be difficult to apply the Gospel and the homily heard at Mass to the long term, she explained, and it helps to have a community to reach out to.
Young adults need a community that extends beyond Sunday Mass, Ivcic added.
Ashley Bennett joined Transfigure after moving to Bucks County for a new job. She knew no one in the area and said without the group she would have felt isolated.
Previously involved with the young adult group at St. Norbert Parish in Paoli, Chester County, Bennett was happy to find another young adult group after relocating. She now serves as assistant director of Transfigure and is a member of Radiant.
The sisterhood forged in Radiant was evident as Bennett shared about her vocational discernment. She said the group greatly helped her discernment of a religious vocation.
Gerber and Ivcic lit up with joy as they and Bennett spoke together recently, and later agreed that they hoped she would share her discernment, but would not mention it until she did.
Everything discussed in Radiant is held in utmost confidence, they explained, since members share their most intimate joys and struggles.
The small groups provide additional community, especially for those who can’t make Transfigure’s other events. They are also sensitive to the different struggles faced by men and women.
Young men in Overcome forge a similar bond. Their friendship has grown beyond the weekly small group meetings, and they often hang out on additional days of the week.
The beauty of Transfigure is that everyone comes from different struggles and different points in their faith journey, explained Father Adamczyk.
“We don’t care where you’re at. We’re just happy that you’re here,” said Gerber.
She’s noticed that the group is changing her nonreligious friends’ perception of the church.
People who aren’t familiar with the church can see it as just an organization with a bunch of rules, but seeing young adults involved in the church challenges that perception, said Father Manuel Flores, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Penndel and another Transfigure chaplain along with Father Adamczyk.
“It’s a bridging of the gap to come and evangelize,” Father Flores said.
Those interested in Transfigure are encouraged to come to an upcoming event. Ivcic suggests a good event for first-timers is A.P.P.S., which stands for adoration, praise, penance and social. The group gathers for eucharistic adoration and worship music with the opportunity for confession, followed by a fun meet-up at a local restaurant.
The next A.P.P.S. is happening Sunday, Feb. 9. Adoration starts at 7:45 p.m. at St. Andrew Church, 81 Swamp Road in Newtown, PA 18940. Participants are invited afterward to Friend’s Bar and Grill at 9 p.m.
See Transfigure’s calendar of events here.
The fruits of Transfigure are spreading beyond the young adult group and breathing new life into parishes. Young adults from Transfigure are becoming lectors, cantors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion in their home parishes, Bennett explained.
Older parishioners are invited to some Transfigure events to see what the ministry is doing, and can find the Transfigure newsletter in the vestibules of their churches.
Parishioners are excited to see the young adult group thriving and are quick to support. Several parishioners are local restaurant owners and will cater or allow Transfigure to use restaurant spaces for events.
Other parishioners support the group financially. One provided funds for a bus to take the group on a trip to Hershey Park. Many bought tickets to the Winter Gala, an event hosted by St. Andrew Parish on Feb. 8 to raise funds for Transfigure and other parish youth ministries.
Father Flores shares the confidence of these parishioners. “Evangelization is living as a faithful Catholic, not just in church but also the world, and doing it with a smile” he said. “I think that this group does that well.”
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