What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: March 10, 2005
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is blessed with a large and evidently growing population of young adult Catholics. The other evening I was leaving one of the local Publix supermarkets when a young man stopped me in the parking lot: “Say Father, I also just moved here to Atlanta!” He looked to be in his late twenties and obviously had recognized me in the store. He told me that he was also engaged and was participating in the marriage preparation program at our Cathedral. I asked him when “the happy day would be?” He said in August, in Philadelphia.
I just have been amazed at the numbers of young Catholics living in Atlanta. They come from so many different places, but most of them seemed to have settled here as part of their first job experience. I am also grateful to find so many of them at our parishes and involved with the Church in different ways. We need to provide more occasions and opportunities for these fine young men and women to be drawn into the life of this local Church. Young adults need special pastoral attention because they are so obviously important to our future—and to the present for our Church. Many of them are in serious relationships—or hoping to be in serious relationships soon! Our marriage preparations programs are ways that they can reflect on their faith as they prepare to receive the sacrament of matrimony.
Young adult catechesis, spiritual and social events bring many of them together to establish friendships and to help them feel comfortable in their new surroundings at a time when they are transitioning from their homes, from university, and as part of their first adventures in living independently.
I began by acknowledging that the numbers of young adults in the Archdiocese of Atlanta was a new experience for me. Obviously Chicago and Belleville both have lots of young adults, but the numbers that I have met here has been a refreshing experience. Church attendance is so often dominated by families, elderly and children that it’s a pleasant surprise to have so many 20- and 30-year-olds in the assembly! I am also well aware that there are too many other young Catholics who have not found their way into our Church life or who may be estranged or alienated from their Catholic faith. We must reach out to them as well. One of the most effective ways to do that is to provide a warm and inviting environment for them that their friends and colleagues can point out as the Church’s own way of telling these great young people that they have a secure home in the heart of the Church.
I am very proud to know that our Archdiocese of Atlanta has a number of programs and outreach efforts to provide for the faith life of our young adult Catholics. You can find out more details about them by logging onto our archdiocesan Web site (www.archatl.com) or by going to www.YAM.org.
I applaud all that has taken place thus far, and I want to assure everyone that the new Archbishop is willing to work with all of these efforts to keep these wonderful young Catholics near to Christ’s Church—he’s even willing to work supermarket parking lots on occasion if need be!