At the parish consultation meetings this past fall, parishioners identified engaging young people in the faith as a very important evangelization strategy after sobering statistics regarding the number of young people who stop practicing their faith by age 21.
“There are tough times ahead for the Diocese as the general culture has abandoned faith,” said Bob Waruszewski, who attended a young adult consultation meeting earlier this year. “I am confident that God’s grace will help us through the challenges and make the Church stronger because of them.”
As the Diocese moves forward with On Mission for The Church Alive, it is placing a greater emphasis on reaching out to young adults. Earlier this year, the Diocese hired its first full-time Director for Young Adult Outreach.
“My position is a fruit of On Mission,” said Jacob Williamson, the new young adult outreach director. “We want our parishes to be places of vibrant worship where people come together, share together, are challenged and where they can effectively encounter our Lord. Young adult ministry is a part of that.”
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has made significant strides in young adult ministry in the last several years, including a rise from 4 young adult groups to more than 50 and the establishment of a website devoted specifically to promoting young adult events and resources, yampgh.org. In his new position, Williamson hopes to garner enthusiasm and awareness that young adult ministry is here and is primed to grow.
“Pittsburgh as a city is blowing up. People are moving here, and it’s beautiful,” said Williamson. “The Church has recognized that reality and is responding to our obligation to reach out to everyone, including young adults.”
He adds that he thinks the Diocese is “primed for an explosion of young adult ministry.” The formation of new parishes through On Mission for The Church Alive will allow for a greater amount of resources to be devoted to evangelization and young adult ministry.
“It will look different in different places of the Diocese,” he said. “I’m sensing a deep hunger from my peers to not only connect with our Lord but to also be in real relationships with people hungering for the same thing. The goal of young adult ministry is to bring people to Jesus. That’s always in my mind. Everything we do needs to be a function of that.”