(This article originally appeared in the TAU-USA Spring 2024 Issue #111)

by Kathleen Molaro, OFS National FY/YA Animator

Unite; Ignite; invite with San Damiano CrossYoung adults are often at a crossroads, not only regarding school, work, relationships, and family, but also in their faith life. They may be questioning or have even left the faith in which they were raised. Maybe for the first time they are experiencing a draw toward God. In some cases, a young person discovers a renewed faith-life, but doesn’t know how to nourish this new reality. Finding time and energy to give thought, let alone action, to their spiritual lives is often not a “luxury” they feel they can afford. We, as more “seasoned” Catholics, can offer simple ways to revitalize this important area of their lives.

Reflecting on the story of St. Francis and his experience of renewal and transformation, we know he was close to the same age as many of the young people we hope to serve. He too sought answers when he felt confused, and later when his heart was moved toward conversion. He too experienced tension between contemporary social mores and the role of faith.

Our world is bombarded with racial issues, drug and sex trafficking, terrorism, war and violence…and the list goes on. It’s no wonder we may feel overwhelmed, depressed, and hopeless. Like Francis, many of our youth are ready to explore new options and are open to refreshing and transforming opportunities. Our Rule calls us to “adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life…” (art. 24) One way individuals and fraternities can respond is to provide encouragement, support, and times of respite to our young adult brothers and sisters. Here are some ideas that have proved successful:

  • Evenings of Young people are thirsty for a relationship with God. Offer an evening of Taizé, a para-liturgical prayer service, adoration, or an experience in visio or lectio divina.
  • Encouraging Social media platforms are a great way to send thoughtful messages to the younger generations. Or, surprise them with heartfelt written cards or notes.
  • Ventures into Gather for a hike after Mass. Camping or backpacking takes more prep than a walk but is well worth the effort. Or meet for a picnic at a beach to mingle and build relationships.
  • Home-cooked Young people appreciate a good meal and perhaps even time to study together with “tutors” on hand.
  • Movie Gather to watch a thought provoking or simply fun movie. Our Rule states that “A sense of community will make them (us) joyful,” (art. 13) which is an important aspect of renewal.
  • Providing a half day, whole day, or even a weekend retreat is a dynamic means of rejuvenation and growth in holiness.
  • Plan a Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Invite young adults to join you. Taking action when we feel powerless about the world’s ills rejuvenates our spirits.
  • Take a Even a short road trip to a local holy place can be a way to escape stress, pray together, and build community with fellow pilgrims. (See Previous Article)

We can help our younger generation learn “Where there is rest and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor restlessness.” (Admonition XXVII, FA:ED, pg. 137) Of course, we are on our journey together, and as these are all multi-generational activities, we can be renewed right along with them!