Young adult ministry blooms in Aiken

Miscellany/Grace Przywara: Father Raymond Flores and Mary Catherine Farrell talk after a young adult ministry meeting at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken.

AIKEN—A typical, ever-transitioning young adult can easily lose their footing on the path of faith, but St. Mary Help of Christians is helping them find solid ground. 

Deacon Bob Pierce and his wife Donna recently guided young adults in the parish to take the first step in forming their own ministry. 

“Bob and I both knew the need,” said Donna. “I asked Father Raymond [Flores] if he would be a part of it if we got some young adults together, and he said he absolutely would.”

Now Father Raymond, parochial vicar, is the young adult ministry’s official chaplain. 

“I think young adults offer a unique perspective having grown up in an age where secularism is the prevailing philosophy,” he said. “Their fluency in secularism and technology give them the special ability to be able to interface with the greater non-Christian world to share the Good News of Christ.”

The emerging ministry hit the ground running. What started as four or five leaders quickly became 25 participants in just a couple of weeks. By mid-March, faith formation, service and social committees were established.

Mary Catherine Farrell, 28, is one of the leaders of the faith formation committee. She said she has always been the odd one out in a Protestant culture, and remarked that it taught her to keep her faith to herself. This ministry, however, is changing her mind.

“After Jesus’ time on earth had ended, the Apostles relied on each other to survive the trying times ahead. They supported and challenged each other, and held each other accountable. I am so excited to be a part of such a group,” she said. 

Their first faith formation event is to watch “The Passion of the Christ” on Palm Sunday, complete with discussion. They plan to hold book and Bible studies, and teach theology and apologetics. The social and service committees are also busy brainstorming ideas.

However, having such a specific ministry has its challenges, mostly because the term “young adult” isn’t specific at all. Andrew Braun, 28, is the co-chair of the entire ministry and sees the biggest struggle in scheduling. 

“Our age range of 18 to 35 covers a very wide variety of lifestyles,” he said. “College-age to … married with children. This wide range is great for sharing experiences but can be challenging when developing events and scheduling.”

It won’t stop them from trying, though. Juan Licea, 25, the other co-chair of the ministry, doesn’t see a way to lose. When asked why others should join, Juan responded, “Why not? Worst-case scenario, you make amazing friends, best-case scenario, you become a better you.”

Mary Catherine has plenty of hope for the best-case scenario and beyond. 

“I think that God has blessed this generation of young Catholics with a spirit of earnestness and a desire to serve in a terribly broken world,” she said. “My hope is that we learn how to love better so that we can serve better, and in so doing convert a world full of lost and wandering souls.”

By Grace Przywara/Special to The Miscellany