"Young adults are notoriously hard to reach."
That’s the refrain I’ve heard consistently throughout my nearly eight years at the Courier. Last Sunday I reflected on the truth of this statement after leaving Mass at a parish in the Southern Tier, where my husband, Mike, and I were visiting family.
At 33 and 29, respectively, Mike and I fit neatly into the young-adult category. Like many other young adults, we’re probably hard to connect with, as well. We moved into an apartment in West Henrietta after getting married in October 2009, but were hesitant to join a parish because we were house hunting and weren’t sure where we’d end up. We started checking out area parishes immediately after buying a house in Caledonia last summer, but the process frequently was interrupted by trips for work and family obligations.
Now we’ve found a parish we love, but we barely qualify as regular parishioners. Not only were we away the first Sunday of Lent, but we also caught Ash Wednesday Masses elsewhere during the work day, and we already know of at least three weekends next month that we’ll be attending Mass elsewhere with family and friends.
We definitely understand some of the reasons parishes struggle to draw in young adults. Diocesan and parish leaders refuse to be discouraged, however. Instead, they’re increasing the quantity and variety of their offerings. Shannon Loughlin, diocesan director of young-adult and campus ministry, discussed some of these at a meeting held after Bishop Clark’s annual Mass with young adults last month at Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. She even put together a guide for parishes hoping to start a young-adult ministry, and posted it online.
How would you like to see parishes reach out to young adults?