This past weekend, the 5:30 Sunday Mass was a special celebration. The Young Adults Group has their Silver Jubilee this year. Fr. Michael gave a rousing homily about being an activator and encourager of God’s Word and work in our world. Mark Lizama helped lead the congregation in music ministry, and (past YAG Chaplain) Fr. Steve and (current Chaplain) myself concelebrated the Mass.
Mark was the primary engineer in designing the parish hall. It was a compilation of ideas and worker that designed the décor of the hall, of course. There on the walls hung a variety of letters from dignitaries who congratulated the Group’s longevity. Mark drew up the plans for the bar, the tables and the where the food ought to go. Anyway, the hall looked amazing.
By the time I had made it to the hall, the appetizers were out and there was a line longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the Priory West men, Lance, took out his square and registered people via credit card, while the rest paid cash. Ah, the marvels of modern technology. (Jennifer, the founder of the group in 1989, boasted that the most techie she got was using the ruler and photocopying machines.)
I mean, really, the Silver Jubilee had to be a hit, right? Bobbycookies cooking, long-time friends gathering after a long time away, wine, wine and more wine…I mean, really, the Jubilee could not fail.
My highlight is a small one. It wasn’t blessing the food. Nor was it standing on stage seeing 200 plus people staring up at me and Jennifer. It wasn’t even the reception of the new Young Adults Group banner gifted by Jennifer herself. It was something fairly small.
I stood between circles of friends, between the bar and the stage. No one was talking to me, or asking me about the program schedule or anything like that. I fell to silence. Listening to the roaring chatter, the laughter. Seeing the smiling faces. Seeing young moms preventing their sons from eating all of the La Boulange. Seeing a physical manifestation of joy embedded within the people of God. Seeing these people, effected by this ministry, seeing how this group—with God’s blessings and the Dominicans’ guidance—overflowing with joy and laughter, tears and assurance.
Beauty doesn’t have to be a sunset or a smile…it comes in a variety of ways.
Throughout the event, I would overhear how the Group had changed lives. People found their spouses. Some found their religious vocations. Some found their vocations within their vocations. The fruits of Priory West and East.
From the Western Dominican Province point of view, the Young Adults Group is a phenomenon. By far, ours is the largest, longest-standing, and most fruitful group of its kind. I am privileged to be their chaplain. This group has changed lives and has done amazing things.
To the Young Adults Group current Leadership Team, I say this to you: What have you learned?
The Group is where your peers find encouragement about being Catholic in the San Francisco. It is a safe place where we can respectfully and charitably ponder the mysteries of God and our Catholic beliefs. A place where you can find your life transformed—if a young person is brave enough to accept the Christian Challenge.
Hikes? Happy Hours? Coffeehouse? All of these activities can foster an encounter with Christ and His Church. Will you find joy in these little things? Indispensable relationships? A place where you can discern your flourishing? Yes—this and much, much more. YAG is that place where young adults from all over the Bay are challenged to grapple with your faith on your own terms in order to become the saints in which you are called to be.
Sure, we get 50 on an average Wednesday, or 20 at a happy hour. Fine, fine, fine. But Leadership Team, are you doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5)? Are you being a catalyst for deeper devotion? Are you daring these people that show up every week to be apostles?
I affirm that it takes much energy and thought in order to make this group vibrant. However, are you content with keeping the boat afloat—or would you rather look up and see where the boat is headed?
LT, there is the challenge, as it has been flying in the Group’s face for these 25 long years. Will you accept the challenge and make the Group a Pressure Cooker of Sainthood? Or is this simply a group of cliquey Catholic friends who so happen to see each other on Sundays and Wednesdays? Are you women and men striving for sainthood in a city as crazy as Corinth? Are you people chasing after the Mysterious God, and inspiring others to do the same?
Who are you? Who do you chose to be? How will you lead your brothers and sisters in Christ to be saints? May we not be complacent in our struggle for sainthood. Let us propel ourselves to become saints, and urge others to do the same.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!