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Young adult ministries celebrate growth at Mass in Burke

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After graduating college, Sara Prince was hired as a choir director at her home parish, Church of the Nativity in Burke. Though she knew other 20-somethings at Nativity, Prince was usually the youngest person at church events. “You had youth ministry and all these college ministries and then you were on your own until you had kids,” said Prince. “If you don't (have something for young adults), that’s a really easy way to lose members of the parish.” 

So in 2013, she and a few friends began the young adult group at Nativity. Five years later, the Fairfax Theology on Tap  they help host draws more than 100 people regularly. The monthly praise and worship night has 50-60 participants. The weekly Bible study grew so large that it was split into two. Father Robert C. Cilinski, pastor, hired Alison Fram to be the parish’s Director of College, Young Adult and Family Ministries.

“I knew the young adults were out there, we just needed to have specific events where they could feel comfortable,” said Prince. “I think that’s been the primary catalyst to my faith growing — that I had that peer group.”

More than 400 young adults attended the annual Mass for Young Adults with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at Nativity Oct. 28, hosted by the Office for Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries. At the same time in Rome, Pope Francis, bishops and young adults from around the world were concluding the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment. 

“You can be assured, dear friends, that the post-synodal document that will be issued will be one that we will study here in the diocese,” said Bishop Burbidge. “But let me say, you are a gift to our church, to our diocese and to me. Thank you for all that you bring to help us move forward.”

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge reflected on the Gospel where Jesus healed a blind man named Bartimaeus. “Jesus turned to the blind man, and said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He responds, ‘I want to see.’ What’s interesting to note is that the evangelist does not highlight the miracle or the cure but rather the faith of Bartimaeus,” said Bishop Burbidge. 

“Why don't you hear Jesus saying to you, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And tell him exactly what you need, in great faith,” said Bishop Burbidge.  “Of course, God is all knowing, but we surface our needs in a humble way so that we realize what is in the depths of our hearts, and the one alone who can satisfy our hearts.”

After Mass, Bishop Burbidge, Father Cilinski and the young adults went to mingle, eat and listen to live music at a reception. Pablo Barrios, a parishioner of All Saints Church in Manassas, was one of them. Barrios met other young adults in his parish while volunteering with the youth ministry. He and his friends all also attend events specifically for young adults, such as the Manassas Theology on Tap, P3 (prayer, penance, pub), retreats and trips to the St. Lucy Project food pantry. “We’re all a part of the same mission,” he said. “Growing closer as friends and bringing other people and each other closer to Christ.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018