A home in the Church for Stamford young adults

STAMFORD —Wednesday evening might not be the most eventful for someone in their 20s or 30s. They might finish up a day of work, go home and cook dinner, and maybe relax on the couch and watch a game or favorite TV show.

But for several young adults in the Stamford area, one Wednesday each month is a time to celebrate their faith.

About 40 young adult Catholics attended this month’s Young Adult Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stamford on November 9. The two-hour event is held on the second Wednesday of each month, and is a time for this group to connect with their Catholic faith and with each other.

Scott Hill is a member of the Stamford Catholic Young Adult group. He’s also one of the main organizers of their monthly Mass — an event he prides on being as hassle-free as possible.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to come,” he said. “There’s enough barriers for people to come during the week, for all kinds of reasons. Everyone works, so if they don’t have to sign up or they don’t have to register, it just makes it that much easier.”

The Mass might be the main draw of the monthly event, but it’s not its only component. It actually begins with the Rite of Exposition at 6 pm, followed by an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Confession is also offered in the hour before Mass, which concludes with the Rite of Benediction.

Eucharistic Adoration is proving increasingly popular among younger Catholics. Paul Jarzembowski, assistant director of youth and young adult ministries for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted this might be because Adoration offers centering peace and quiet to this demographic of Catholics that is often plagued by constant distractions.

“The world of young adults is very noisy, competitive and stressful,” Jarzembowski said in an interview with America Magazine.

This month’s young adult Mass was celebrated by Father Christopher Ford, the Diocese of Bridgeport’s director of vocations. He began his homily not necessarily with a reflection on the Gospel or on the writings of a particular saint, but with a recounting of a pivotal scene in the classic Christmas movie, “Home Alone,” in which Kevin McCallister must defend his home against two burglars.

“His house is a place where his family comes together, the place where his family shares love,” Father Ford said. “And he knows this. Even though his family has treated him poorly, even though his family has at times ignored him, even though his family has literally left him home alone. So he defends his house.”

Father Ford also noted that day marked the Feast Day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. A day commemorating a building might seem a bit odd within a faith that usually celebrates feast days that remember the lives of saints, but Father Ford said like Kevin McCallister defending his home against the burglars, it wasn’t really about the bricks and mortar that comprised a physical building like the Lateran Basilica — but what that building represents.

“To celebrate the dedication of the church building is really to celebrate the dedication of the Body of Christ, of the Church itself,” Father Ford said. “It’s not the bricks and the mortar that made this place home. It’s not the bricks and the mortar that made this place sacred. It’s the fact that it is here in this space, through one another, through the mysteries of the Sacraments, through the mystery of God’s presence among us in the Eucharist — the humanity and the divine come together.”

As a result, Father Ford said, it is important to protect the whole body of the Church — in the same way Christ did in that day’s Gospel reading, driving the moneylenders out of the temple.

“I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone when I say that in many ways, we are under attack,” he said. “But there is real consolation here. There is real hope here because of Jesus — because he not only leads you to his church, but he promised that he would be present in it forever.”

While the monthly young adult Mass is the flagship event for the Stamford young adult group, they also offer a monthly Faith on Tap. And according to Hill, two events per month is ideal for the time being.

“We’re trying to do maybe less, but do it better,” he said. “We figured two quality events each month would be just what we need to do.”

To Hill, it’s important that young adults who take their faith seriously get to know each other. And he hopes by providing these events — especially the young adult Mass — meaningful and faith-filled friendships can form among the diocese’s young adults.

“If you go to church in Stamford or in Fairfield County on a regular basis, there’s no reason you shouldn’t know the other young adults who do so as well,” Hill said. “You’re not meant to carry the faith alone.”

The next young adult Mass will be offered on December 14 at the Basilica of St. John in Stamford. Adoration and Confession will begin at 6 pm, and Mass will begin at 7 pm. A social will follow.

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By Rose Brennan