Young Adult Council opening doors to ideas, leaders

Want to be the voice of and for young adults? If you are a Catholic between the ages of 18 and 39 and desire to grow and share your faith, the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ CYO/Youth and Young Adult Ministry office invites you to apply to its Young Adult Council.

Council members attend and lead monthly council meetings and events and advocate for young adults at the parish and archdiocesan level. Deadline to apply is Aug. 16.

Sam Pitre, the new associate director of the CYO/Youth and Young Adult office, is eager to start work with a new council. He said he’s already met with current council members and gotten helpful feedback on what they would like Young Adult ministry to be.

“My big dream (through the Young Adult ministry) is to have young adult ministries in the parish when they ask where to send them (after archdiocesan events). They are searching for a community and a place.”

Faith over money

Like many young Catholics, Sam Pitre’s Catholic faith diminished in his early college years. It took two mission trips (2011, 2013) to Jamaica while studying engineering at Louisiana State University to open his eyes about what was important in life. Mission trips made him realize that he was living life without a true purpose.

“Money was driving me, and that was my purpose,” Pitre said about his studying to be an engineer.

As his heart began to change and he recognized his weaknesses after each mission trip, when he graduated and had four engineering job offers and a mission trip offer to Alaska from Focus Missionary Benedictine College, he chose to be a missionary.

“I didn’t know what it meant to live with Christ every day and to spend time in prayer” until the mission experiences, he said. “I saw those living in extreme poverty with virtually nothing actually happy. In encountering the poor, I was able to see that I was spiritually poor. … Living with the brother missionaries, I realized that without prayer you have nothing.”

Today’s calling

Pitre, who grew up Catholic in Houma and attended Vandebilt High School, is currently earning a master’s in theology through Augustine Institute in Colorado. Last year, he had taught theology to freshmen and sophomores at Archbishop Rummel High School, and he and his wife, Emily, helped form a young adult ministry at St. Dominic Parish. They have a 10-month-old son, John.

When Father Kurt Young mentioned the Young Adult Ministry position in the CYO office, Pitre jumped at the opening and applied. He hopes his faith journey as a young adult can help others.

“Young adults want community and spiritual formation more than anything,” he said. “That’s what I always wanted.”

As he defines the direction of Young Adult ministry, Pitre realizes its complexity, due to the variety of life situations young adults between the ages of 18-39 are in: college, single, married, married with children.

“Young adult ministry is so tough because young people are so busy,” he said. “We are ministering to those who are looking for Christ or who have found Christ but want more.”

Voice of young adults

He sees the Young Adult Council as the voice of all young adults and desires a diverse council of leaders who can understand, address and voice the needs of each age group.

”We’re trying to tailor the ministry to all age groups,” he said.

Young Adult ministry already attracts an average of 50 to 60 people at regular events such as Christ in the City, Theology on Tap and a monthly (the third Wednesday) outing called Magnify and Midnight Run.

“We want to reach out more to people with hospitality events, get them connected to a parish.”

A sense of community is achieved at the Magnify and Midnight Run event where members meet at Mater Dolorosa at 6:30 p.m. to prepare sandwiches and stuff bags with prayer cards, do praise and worship from 7-8 p.m., then venture into the community to deliver the bags to the homeless. The next session is Aug. 16.

“We’re not here to do our thing but God’s thing and give more young adults a chance to get involved,” Pitre said. “My job is to give them (council members) the freedom to do ministry. I think a lot of young adults have a desire to do ministry but don’t know how, so we equip them and form them.”

Pitre recalled St. John Paul II’s thoughts on youth as the light of the world, the light of Christ.

“If you have a lively young adult culture, the church would be alive as well,” Pitre said. “Young adults are seeking answers and finding them in the faith. I am helping them to be fed, so they can feed others and learn tools to find out what they can offer in a parish.”

To apply for the Young Adult Council, call Pitre at 836-0551, ext. 3228, email him at spitre@arch-no.org or go to www.yamarchno.org and look for an application under “Get Involved/Archdiocesan Events.” Deadline is Aug. 16.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org

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