NEW FAIRFIELD—A celebration of fellowship and an opportunity for young Catholics to deepen their faith through community, prompted dozens of young people to gather recently at St. Edward the Confessor Church on a summer evening for the first meeting of this new ministry.
About seventy people were registered for the event which was advertised in parish bulletins in the Greater Danbury area. The hope is to welcome young people from the surrounding area not just St. Edward parishioners.
Meetings are held monthly and the ministry will also host special events such as the upcoming Coffee House, a virtual “Evening in Roma,” an Advent Retreat, Pizza Night, and Eucharistic Adoration followed by a Wine and Cheese social (see information below).
Judging by the turnout, the invitation to gather filled a void for many young adults in the area, and has created a growing interest in the ministry as it continues to grow and collaborate with other parishes.
“I want to connect with people my age,” said Alyssa Denlke. “I don’t have many friends my age, so this is great,” she added, as she dashed off to introduce herself to someone new, and it was a shared sentiment among those in attendance.
“I don’t really get to meet the young people in the Church,” said Yan Wusik, who admittedly came to the event mostly out of curiosity. But, he said, he wasn’t disappointed and plans to participate in future events.
The evening of festivities included outdoor games, music, a barbeque of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
“In terms of rebuilding the Church after the pandemic, this is one of the things that we are doing,” said Father Robert Wolfe who, along with Father Tim Iannacone, started the group for young adults.
Both say that young adults have often been overlooked in the Church, but the two young priests with the blessing of their pastor, Father Nick Cirillo, are doing their best to change that.
The young adult ministry is open to Catholic young adults between the ages of 18-35 and consists of various social and spiritual opportunities to aid in fostering community.
Erin Lennon traveled from Brewster, New York to participate in this first gathering. “Young adults need people to walk with to Christ,” she said, referencing the inherent support group of fellow Catholics.
“Community has been a large part of my faith life and I want to invite more people to be a part of that,” she said, adding that she is looking to start a young adult fellowship group at her home parish of St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Brewster.
“This is very cool,” Lennon said, looking around at the group gathered enjoying outdoor games and conversations. “I didn’t really know there were this many young Catholics around.”
Relaxing in a circle of red Adirondack chairs, young adults shared conversation and laughter while spectating simultaneous games of frisbee, a spirited game of badminton and corn hole. As the sunset on a summer evening, a bonfire illuminated the front lawn of the church, a perfect backdrop to an evening spent with friends old and new.
“It’s nice to be around other people my age,” said Diane Rambadt, a parishioner of St. Edward’s. Fellow attendee, Christian Kutzy agreed, “Walking in and seeing so many people is such a thrill. It’s so very, very nice.”
“We are journeying with them,” Father Iannacone said. “It’s good that they meet each other in the parish but it’s great for them to establish lasting relationships outside of the parish.”
He said the goal of the group is to enlighten one’s faith with charity and hope, empower the future of the Church with the spiritual tools of the past and present, and to engage the hearts of all Catholic young adults in search of faith and community.
Father Nick Cirillo is excited about the new ministry and the “heavy lifting” undertaken by the two young priests, and has invited other parishes in the region to join in the effort to make the outreach available to more young adults.
“One of the aspects that makes our program unique is that we are trying to create a series of relationships between local pastors and young adult liaisons in neighboring parishes so that we can unite our strengths, activities and talent into one effort,” Father Cirillo said.
“With added input from these communities and the possibility of young adults from these churches supporting the combined ministry, we believe that great things can be accomplished for this age group.”
Father Cirillo added that St. Edward Parish is providing financial support for the launch of the ministry, and it has also applied to Foundations in Faith for a grant to assist in some of those costs.
“We hope to establish more formal relationships and partnerships with these groups as we plan larger events. We are in the process of approaching the Diocesan Young Adult Council for contacts and event advertising,” he said.
(St. Edward the Confessor Parish is located at 21 Brush Hill Road, New Fairfield, CT 06812. For more information on the young adult ministry visit: stedsyoungadults.webnode.com)
Friday, October 22 – Coffee House 7 pm.
We have invited six musicians for live music, dinner, coffee selections and dessert bar. This is one of our larger events because of the expenses involved, so we have been asking pastors to sponsor tables with participants, not funding. If you are able to put together a table of 7 for the event, we would really appreciate it.
Friday, November 5 – An Evening in Roma 7 pm.
Join us for a lovely Italian evening of food and fellowship at St. Edward’s, featuring a virtual tour of the ancient necropolis beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and learn the true story of how St. Peter’s Tomb was discovered! This presentation is hosted by Father Robert Wolfe.
Sunday, November 14 – Eucharistic Adoration, 6:30-7:30 pm.
Please join us for our monthly Holy Hour which will feature contemporary Christian music in praise of the Blessed Sacrament. After adoration young adults will gather for pizza and fellowship.
Friday, December 10 – An Evening with Father Pierre Toussaint, CFR 7:00 pm.
For Advent, we are pleased to welcome Father Pierre Toussaint, CFR as our guest presenter. Dinner will be served at 7 pm followed by the presentation. Father Toussaint is a very popular and dynamic speaker and we are so fortunate to have him join us for an evening of spiritual reflection. Many thanks to Father Chris Ford and the diocesan Office of Vocations for co-sponsoring this event for our young adults.
Sunday, December 12 – Eucharistic Adoration, 6:30-7:30 pm.
Please join us for our monthly Holy Hour during the season of Advent. After adoration young adults will gather for dinner and fellowship.
Wednesday, December 15 – Chris Stefanick speaks on Living Joy, 7 pm
St. Edward’s welcomes internationally acclaimed speaker, author and TV host Chris Stefanick to our parish to speak on his new book Living Joy. Many know Chris as the author of “The Search” and through his online presence in the Ambassadors training program. We are very blessed to have secured him for this year, and we are grateful to Dr. Patrick Donovan at the Leadership Institute for helping in this effort. Tickets are $15 and include a copy of the book that accompanies the presentation. Register for this incredible event at formationreimagined.org. Click on events, and scroll to December 2021 to register online.