Something I left with after attending Franciscan University of Steubenville was a great love for community and the understanding of its importance. I experienced profound healing, joy, and mirth from the people that I met there. I grew and flourished as a woman during my time at the University both through the classes I took and because of the Christ-centered friendships I made there. I clearly saw that people are the heart of life and the body of Christ here on earth.
The Kingdom of God Present on Earth
It was easy for me (even as an introvert!) to make friends at Franciscan University. There were so many opportunities to encounter beautiful people: at daily Mass that was offered three times daily, through ministries, intramural sports, and in the dormitories. Christ remained at the center of our friendships and I felt on fire with His life and love because of it. I saw that through people filled with the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God is made present on earth.
A Time of Loneliness
After graduating with a degree in History and Theology, I decided to become a nurse. I had wanted to become one since being a young girl and witnessing my brother suffer through cancer. I applied to nursing schools in my home state of New York and ultimately decided to go to a college in Buffalo, New York.
The first thing I did when I unpacked and settled into my new dorm room was Google “young adult groups in the area.” Nothing came up. After Mass I asked a priest if there were any groups or gatherings for people my age. He said he didn’t know of any. The school I went to was Catholic in name but felt very secular.
I began to feel lonely and I felt my faith life suffer from lack of a community on fire with the Faith.
Where Two or Three Are Gathered
I was thrilled when my friend Jessica—my closest friend from Franciscan University—told me she was returning to her hometown of Buffalo to settle there with her husband.
When she arrived, we went out to breakfast and I shared something that had been on my heart for the past year of nursing school.
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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Since I was young, I have had a strong devotion to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I first learned about him when I was twelve and my mom handed me his prayer card, asking me to pray for my brothers through his intercession. I’m not going to lie, after seeing his handsome, Italian face, my first thought was, “Thank God I’m Catholic!”
This man in Heaven changed my life. I began researching him and reading more about his story. He loved the poor and would go after school to help them in the Italian slums. He was adventurous, he loved horseback riding, hiking, and mountain climbing. Yet he showed Christ’s love even within his adventures. He would invite his friends to pray the Rosary on hikes, and even though he was the strongest, he’d walk with the slowest one in the group. His friends would say of him that, “Our parents can’t get us to go to Mass, our teachers couldn’t either, but Pier Giorgio could.”
When I Googled him I saw that there were young adult groups throughout the United States in his honor. I told Jessica that I wanted to create one of those groups in Buffalo. She loved the idea and we spent the rest of the morning planning and organizing.
The First Meeting
Jessica knew some people were interested in attending, and I invited my friend Lauren from nursing school. Our first Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati meeting was a group of eight, meeting in a local Irish Pub on February 12, 2012. Our “homework” for the next meeting was for each of us to invite and bring at least one person to the next meeting.
At our following meeting, a week later, we had sixteen people.
Frassati Western New York is still flourishing. Members continue to meet on a weekly basis and have been since 2012. It’s where I discovered some of my dearest friends and where I met my husband Mike. It’s the place where I have grown in my faith through community and friendship.
Do Not Be Afraid
If you are feeling lonely, isolated, and in need of a faith community, don’t be afraid to start making the changes yourself and create a young adult or women’s group. People will come! I promise! Every single person here on earth desires community and deeply desires the true, good, and beautiful. Don’t be afraid to cast your nets into the deep for a beautiful catch!
Tips For Creating A Young Adult Group
Consistency is key! Meeting once a week, though difficult, has been a blessing and reason why we grew! People knew they could count on a meeting every week and we were able to build strong friendships and trust by meeting weekly.
Have a leader and core team, with each person having designated tasks. Meet with your core team monthly.
Address any problems that arise with charity and patience.
Advertise! I made Frassati business cards and would leave them in the back of churches and hand them out to people who I met!
Create (and follow!) a mission statement. Here is ours: “Frassati Western New York is a place for Catholic young adults (18-35) from any parish in the Buffalo Diocese to form friendships founded in Christ, grow in their faith and enrich their lives through adventure, prayer, and acts of charity.”
In addition to our weekly meetings, we would plan adventures (like a hike) and acts of charity (like volunteering at a soup kitchen), usually on Saturdays.
Have a clear start and end time of meetings. Respecting people’s time is essential.
Have a plan for meetings. We would open with a prayer asking Blessed Pier Giorgio’s intercession, read the upcoming Sunday’s Gospel, discuss the Gospel, have a speaker give a talk, and end with sharing prayer intentions followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Start an e-mail list and Facebook group to reach members and advertise the upcoming meeting.
Have a spiritual mentor, a priest, religious sister, or someone strong and knowledgeable in their faith who would like to attend and participate in the meetings.
Reach out to new members who come to the group. Sit next to someone new each meeting.
These ten tips from Jessica are great, too, for starting a young adult group specifically through your parish! Keep your prayer life strong and Christ at the center!
You Can Do It!
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions if you are interested in starting a young adult group in your area.
Do you attend a young adult or women’s group? Do you feel like you have a strong community of faith that you are a part of? Or is this something that is lacking in your life? Please comment below!How to Start a Young Adult Group #BISblog // Click To Tweet