By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — By their own admission, the 49 young adults who attended the Davenport Diocese’s first young adult conference represented a diverse group — some were college students; others were in their second or third full-time job. Some were married, while others were single or dating.
But what attendees at the Oct. 13 event had in common was a feeling of being in-between, keynote presenter Pat Millea told them at St. Patrick Church. Often in transition, young adults have been between jobs, homes and relationships.
“That’s a good metaphor. As long as we’re on earth, we are in-between. We have one foot in eternity and one foot in temporal life,” Millea said.
The Davenport native gave two presentations during the daylong conference, which also included breakout sessions on topics of faith, an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and to participate in eucharistic adoration and Mass.
Titled “All Things Are Possible,” the conference resulted from the efforts of the Catholic Young Adult Network, a collaboration of young adult volunteers and diocesan staff for Catholics ages 18-39.
Speaking on Catholic Social Teaching, Millea discussed the need for both subsidiarity and solidarity. The first principle calls for needs to be fulfilled on the most local level, and thus doesn’t deprive people of their individual responsibility or freedom, he said. Solidarity, one of the seven key themes of Catholic Social Teaching, stresses the idea that all people are connected and depend on each other to survive.
He encouraged young adults to reach out to their neighbors in need, noting Jesus’ message in Matthew 25:40: “You did it for me.”
Prayer can help people discern how they can best fulfill the needs of the Church, said Mary Jo Fullan in a breakout on “Discerning Your Spiritual Gifts.” Her session was one of several available on topics including saints, the Mass, science and faith and starting young adult ministry at the local level.
Fullan noted that not everyone is called to feed the hungry, but may have received the charism of evangelism, teaching, administration, wisdom, prophecy, music or another gift from God.
A member of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, she shared how taking part in the Catherine of Siena Institute’s Called & Gifted program there helped her discern her charism of mercy.
If God calls people to use a certain charism and they do so faithfully, they needn’t worry about seeing the impact, she said. The results are up to him.
Regardless of what gift God has given someone, he or she is called to be holy, Millea said in his second presentation. The speaker realized he had a personal call as a teenager, when he heard a friend’s pastor speak on “wimpy Christians” who live their faith only on Sundays.
“We look at God as a competitor in our lives,” Millea said. But the Lord simply wants his followers to include him in all they do.
Sin eats away at that relationship with God and makes people less than he created them to be, the speaker said. But because Jesus died for their sins, the sacrament of reconciliation is available. “God is just waiting for us to turn around,” Millea said.
Speakers at the conference were excellent, said Ken Gilkerson, 24, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine. New to the area, he appreciated being able to meet Catholics his age at the event. “When you’re going from first grade to confirmation, there are tons of programs,” but the conference was a good springboard for getting young adults more involved in the Church, he said.
Patrick Stanley, a member of St. Mary’s in Pella who’s lived in Iowa for four months, agreed. “It’s nice to know there are young people within a couple hours drive who are passionate about the same things I am,” the 23-year-old said.
For Marco LaNave, a 23-year-old member of Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf, turnout at the conference was inspiring. “Just seeing the energy and excitement of my peers from across the diocese gives me a lot of hope,” he said.