BRIDGEPORT—When Alex Soucy and his friend Travis Moran got on the bus for Philadelphia to attend Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in 2015, they never realized it would be the start of a journey that would lead to the creation of an apostolate for young Catholics … at a time when they were leaving the Church.
“We had an unforgettable experience of encountering Christ in one another through our Holy Father’s message and through the grace of that pilgrimage,” Soucy says. “Each of us felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to respond to Pope Francis’ encouragement to be the missionary disciples that all Christians are called to be.”
Soucy is executive director of the Connecticut-based Crossroads 4 Christ, which focuses on developing communities of young adult disciples through weekly meetings that offer fellowship, faith formation, prayer and Eucharistic adoration.
Today, there are chapters around the state, including two in the Diocese of Bridgeport, at St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield and Church of the Holy Spirit in Stamford.
“I’m really happy to have Crossroads for Christ in the area because there is a definite need for young adults to come together, form community, and know they are not alone in their desire to live out the Catholic faith,” said Father Sam Kachuba, pastor of St. Pius X. “We’re fortunate at St. Pius to have space to offer, so C4C can have a home in the Fairfield area. We’re also benefitting because each gathering ends with a holy hour in Eucharistic adoration, and after the first few weeks, the group asked if they could invite the parish to join them. So now we have members of the parish coming for adoration on Tuesday evenings at 8 pm.”
Paola Pena, director of Student Ministries of St. Pius X, said starting a chapter of Crossroads in October was “a response to God’s call to create community out of a personal ache I had for a Christ-centered community.”
“Made painfully aware of this ache during quarantine, I finally responded to the call of the Lord to start a Crossroads chapter after three years of saying no,” she said. “The Lord will always have his way, and he has shown me his plan to give me life through this ministry and not leave me more exhausted. Those who have been attending also carry that ache within, and we’re watching how God is satisfying that ache by bringing us together in fellowship and adoration.”
The chapter recently completed two four-part series on the Eucharist and on prayer and will begin exploring Christ-centered friendship.
“Young adults just want the truth of Jesus Christ,” Paola said. “They don’t want the watered-down version of the faith. Crossroads helps us to learn how to live our lives with Jesus.”
C4C Fairfield meets at St. Pius X on Tuesday at the Faith Center Community Room with fellowship from 7 to 8 pm and with adoration in church sanctuary from 8 to 9 pm. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Church of the Holy Spirit chapter in Stamford meets Wednesdays with fellowship from 7:30 to 8:30 pm followed by adoration from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. For more information, contact email@example.com.
The chapter was begun three years about by co-leaders Maria and John Midy.
“C4C has enriched our faith in many beautiful ways and has helped to define our vocation to love and to discern our mission as a young married couple,” Maria said. “We live in a busy city with young professionals and career opportunities, but no Catholic young adult groups that meet regularly….We have built a great community of Christ-centered friendships who share struggles and success in life in a hostile environment.”
She said their Crossroads friendships are a gift from God and are especially important when families are far away or not supportive of faith.
“Our model is rooted in Christ’s example of discipleship, so besides our weekly meetings for fellowship, adoration and prayer, we encourage collaboration with other groups or activities that will expand our horizons,” John said. “The Holy Spirit continues to spread the fire of the Gospel through our testimony of life. We trust that God has chosen us to be an instrument of his love for many who don’t know him yet or many who are lonely and have forgotten how great is our Lord.”
Soucy, who has been spreading the C4C message to parishes, left his job as manager of the state director’s office of the Nature Conservancy to work full-time with Crossroads. He attended Corpus Christi elementary and middle school in Wethersfield and then East Catholic High School in Manchester before entering Quinnipiac University, where he studied economics and finance and got a graduate degree in business administration. He is currently enrolled at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, pursuing a master’s in pastoral studies with a concentration in youth and young adult ministry.
“I was fortunate to have a Catholic education, and looking back I see that so many seeds were planted during those years,” he says.
In high school he recalls having a profound encounter with Jesus while on retreat, where he was forced to ask himself the question: “If Jesus is really God, what does that mean for my life?”
He and Travis were friends since high school and were involved in Catholic ministry in college. They went to Mass and adoration and had evening prayer with their faith community on campus and looked for similar opportunities after graduation.
“In Philadelphia, we were inspired by a group from Boston and being with a million other pilgrims,” he recalls. “The experience led us to recognize the true missionary aspect in daily life and the realization that we are being sent out to evangelize and spread the Good News and live lives of sacrificial love in the midst of our families and friends and day-to-day life.”
Travis along with Alex’s wife Jessica and other members came up with the name Crossroads 4 Christ while on a bus ride to the March for Life in January 2016.
“All of us at every moment in our lives are at a crossroads, whether to choose Christ or follow the ways of the world,” he said. “Young adults find themselves at a crossroads in their 20s and 30s, discerning their vocations when they find themselves living on their own for the first time, trying to build friendships and asking the big questions about faith and God and Jesus. So many young people have this hunger in their hearts that there is more and they are just waiting—they’re at the crossroads.”
The “4” represents the four pillars of formation, which are based on Scripture—intellectual, spiritual, relational and human. Each week, chapters explore a different pillar.
In the spring of 2019, several members, including Alex, felt called to leave their jobs and spread the mission. Last May, they held a week-long virtual conference and had 1100 attendees from 46 states and 28 countries. Father Joseph Gill of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist and Father Sam Kachuba were among the presenters.
“Our mission is to develop communities of young adult missionary disciples,” he said. “Our goal is to lead people to Christ in his Church and to friendship with other faithful Catholics and to help them go out into the world to spread the Good News…There are many things that we hope to achieve, including culture change, an increase in friendship and an increase in formation, but the first thing, and the most important thing, is leading young people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and the pinnacle of that relationship is found in the most holy Eucharist.”
Given the influence of an aggressively secular culture in America, it is more important than ever to give young adults an opportunity to encounter Christ, he says.
“If we could do just one thing in our ministry, it would be to lead young adults to the most Blessed Sacrament.”
Parishes that have C4C chapters can enjoy an additional hour of Eucharistic adoration each week because the group’s holy hour is open to all parishioners.
Alex says his faith was strengthened by his family, which revealed God’s love to him in a very real way.
“When I was growing up, faith was just one of many things,” he recalls. “I was active in sports, played baseball through college and played alto sax in high school. Going to church on Sunday was one of the many things I did, but there were many people who led me to the faith and their witness influenced me.”
Many members of his family had an impact on him, most notably his parents and grandparents, including his “meme,” a French Canadian woman who had been in the convent and later married and had 11 children, three with special needs.
“I saw her throughout her life, caring for 11 children, and into her 80s until she died, she still cared for those with special needs,” he said. “She was living a life of radical love. When I went to Mass with her on Sunday, I could tell that was the highlight of her week. That was the source of the way she lived her life, and it influenced me.”
(Parishes interested in forming a Crossroads 4 Christ chapter can reach out to Soucy at firstname.lastname@example.org.)