By Stella Lal
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath met with the young adults from the Diocese to answer their questions. More than 50 young people attended the meeting and the questions covered a wide range from Young Adult Ministry, to individual faith formation and ministries for mature adults during a Town Hall Meeting at Saint Martin of Tours on August 2. An overview of the talk is given below:
The Bishop explained that Youth and Young Adults are among the top four priorities of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.
Vision for Young Adults: He explained they are not the Church of the future, but the Church of today. They should get involved with all aspects of the Church; Liturgy, Eucharistic Ministry, Lectors, Choir, Parish Council, etc. In some communities, children get involved with different ministries along with their parents and as they grow older they get integrated into the different aspects of the Church and that is ideally how it should be.
On being asked what a mature good young adult looks like, Bishop McGrath answered, one who can see the face of God in two places: one in the mirror and the other in the face of his neighbor. It is important to do good works; it is in giving that we receive the most satisfaction. He further added, it is important to know Christ, be quiet and listen to him and be Christ to others, otherwise, life will be empty. We can do all the good works, but without Christ everything else is meaningless.
With regard to faith formation, the Bishop mentioned that Father John Hurley is leading the Department for Evangelization. There is also an upcoming conference in November on Faith Formation.
His Vocation Story: On being asked what motivated him to become a priest, he mentioned that there was no specific moment when he felt the call and that he grew into his vocation. He went to Catholic school where his Jewish friend, Isaac, who was generally up to pranks, signed up him and his friends to paint homes for the elderly. Bishop wanted to be an architect, and when asked to be a priest he was not sure initially. Isaac always felt he would be a priest.
Young Adults Ministry: The Bishop shared his observation that there is no one way to best serve young adults; different groups at different times need different methods to support and develop them.
He encouraged young adults to get actively involved with their ministry; they can start their own young adults groups or if they need help they should approach their parish priests and ask them to help start one. He has explained to the parish priests that young adults are one of our priorities.
Married Young Adults: They can find areas they would like to be engaged in or start groups they are interested in. They should go and ask for it, show interest, step up, get involved and make it happen. Further, they should consider getting involved with Parish and Finance Councils.
Marriage/Divorce: He mentioned it was sad to see so many divorces. It is important to make your spouse your priority. Sometimes couples focus on children and when they are grown up and leave the home, the spouses are strangers to each other. They need to make time for each other.
Silicon Valley Challenges: Land in the Silicon Valley is expensive and poses problems when trying to build new churches; when they are built they do get filled up. Earlier people in the valley had deeper roots, but now they seem to be moving around more. However, they are generous people.
Present Day Heroes: When asked for suggestions on current day heroes he suggested Pope Francis, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero-El Salvador martyr, Archbishop Quinn, Father Martin, and John of the Cross. He included earlier saints such as Theresa of Avila etc.
Book Recommendations: When asked for book recommendations for young adults, he said the first book everyone needs to read is the Bible. He further added, read what gives you life: periodicals, tablet, some book recommendations, something that builds your faith, something spiritual. He added to the list periodicals, “The Tablet” and “America” Magazine – The Jesuit Review. Father John Hurley has a syllabus of good books to read, but it’s always changing.