By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Trying to find a one-size-fits-all ministry for young adults can be a challenge and, as a result, they tend to be “the most neglected age group in the church,” said Don Boucher, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry. “We have to figure out how to (minister to them) and do it effectively. … We need a sense of where and how we need to proceed in developing a clear direction for this ministry.”
In an effort to give young adult ministry some much-needed attention, the Diocese of Davenport is hosting a Young Adult Summit on April 18 at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. It will feature two tracks – one for young adults and one for those interested in ministering to young adults. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude with Mass at 4:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to use this event to enrich young adult ministry in the entire diocese,” said Luke Ebener, a leader of the diocesan Catholic Young Adult Network and a young adult himself. “It provides us a unique opportunity to … look at where we are as young adults and what we need to do to meet the needs of young adults.”
Tim O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, will lead the young adult track. Ebener knows O’Malley from Notre Dame Vision and is confident of his ability to motivate young adults. “He knows where young adults are at today, and he has a lot of great wisdom on living your faith as a young adult today,” Ebener said.
Doug Tooke will lead the young adult ministry track. Tooke currently works as the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry coordinator for the Diocese of Helena, Mont., and leads youth and young adult rallies nationwide. He was the key presenter at the 2014 Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference.
Boucher said the need for the ministry portion of the summit is imperative. Studies have shown that the percentage of young adults who “come back” to the church continues to drop from one generation to the next. “How do we meet them where they’re at? If we don’t, there are plenty of other places that are seeking young adults. They will go where they feel the void is being filled.”
Ebener said, “We rely so often on the sacraments to bring young adults back, and we aren’t seeing it as often. Fewer people are married in the church; there are fewer baptisms. We need flexibility.”
As few parishes have specific young adult ministries within the diocese, Boucher encourages anyone with an interest in young adult ministry to attend the summit. It is a ministry he’d like to see grow.
Currently, most diocesan young adult initiatives are based around Catholic Young Adult Networks in Davenport and Iowa City, though events such as Theology on Tap occur in other areas.
“The passion they have for life can absolutely energize a parish community. …We can only benefit from having young adults in the church,” Boucher said.
Attending Young Adult Summit
Cost to attend the Young Adult Summit is $35 by April 1, $40 for late registration. Two tracks — one for young adults and one for young adult ministry — are available. To register go to http://goo.gl/mQmL0J. For more information contact Barb Butterworth at email@example.com.