Rochester-area parishes join forces for young-adult ministry - Catholic Courier
People gather around a bonfire. Father Aaron Kelly leads a group discussion during a July 19 Converge bonfire event at Rochester’s St. Ambrose Church. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Rochester-area parishes join forces for young-adult ministry

ROCHESTER — On a warm and clear July evening, 15 men and women began unfolding their sports chairs and placing them around a smokeless portable stove bonfire pit on the lawn between St. Ambrose Church and St. Ambrose Academy. Close at hand were several coolers filled with drinks and all the fixings for s’mores.

Bonfire goodies were momentarily forgotten, however, as the young people leaned forward to hear Father Aaron Kelly as he began to speak about the spirituality of friendship.

So began the July 19 event hosted by Converge, a young-adult ministry jointly offered by Rochester’s Peace of Christ Parish, Irondequoit’s St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish and the Southeast Rochester Catholic Community. The year-old ministry offers three to four monthly events, with past gatherings for coffee and dessert game nights, adoration nights and brunches following Masses.

Parish staff, volunteers plan events for young adults

Converge became a reality under the direction of Emily Kwiatkowski, director of catechetical programs and youth ministry at Peace of Christ, and Tyler Davis, pastoral associate for youth and young adults for Southeast Rochester Catholic Community, who already work jointly on youth-ministry programs.

Kwiatkowski and Davis, together with St. Kateri volunteers Michelle and Lou Fioravanti, work to create a space and time for Catholic young adults to come together.

“Converge is the idea that we are more than just one parish,” Kwiatkowski noted.

Converge offered seven events in June and July so young adults could meet for prayer, food and fellowship. The July 19 event at St. Ambrose, a Peace of Christ worship site, not only offered a way for young adults to mingle but also provided them an opportunity to learn more about their faith.

The recently ordained Father Kelly, a young adult himself, spoke to the group about the philosophy and theology of friendship, the different types and forms of friendships we have in our lives, and the discernment process that goes along with becoming vulnerable with others and inviting them into our lives.

“We need others to develop properly into ourselves,” Father Kelly explained. “My friend becomes another self of me.”

He said that it’s the yes to our friendship with Christ that allows us to be friends with one another, and that a true friend will call us to salvation. Since heaven is all friendship with one another, he said that friendship doesn’t necessarily end in death. The friendships we have with each other on earth are a preparation for our eternal relationship with God.

“We need to discern the people who admit to that,” Father Kelly said.

Participant enjoys friendships, camaraderie that Converge offers

Following the discussion on friendship, the young adults had the opportunity to ask questions and converse with each other as they roasted marshmallows.

“Most of these are not new faces, which is great!” Kwiatkowski said as she watched the young adults mingle.

Marty Ramich, a Peace of Christ parishioner and a regular Converge participant, said the ministry’s programs are a really great source of friendship and camaraderie with others who share the same faith and values.

“Getting out of your comfort zone and just going to it is really important,” Ramich said of Converge events, which he makes an effort to attend each month. “If 15 or more people did that, you’d have an even more vibrant (faith) community.”

Young-adult ministry looks to the future, will offer more events

Although summertime is when Converge events ramp up, Kwiatkowski said that the ministry will continue to offer gatherings throughout the year. Ideas for future events include visits to the Abbey of the Genesee and Letchworth State Park, with the possibility of a cow-petting event being discussed.

When July 19 Converge participant Marie Claire DeFord overheard Kwiatkowski’s idea about a cow-petting event, she smiled and laughed.

“I’d totally sign up for that!” DeFord said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about Converge and its upcoming events, fill out the ministry’s Google form to receive more information.

Tags: Faith Formation, Monroe County East, Priests
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