Ryan Gallant (left) and Sara Richard are part of a planning committee that hopes to engage Catholic young adults in PEI. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Charlottetown

Summit feeds spiritual hunger

By  Lauren Van Vliet, Catholic Register Special
  • May 7, 2014

The Diocese of Charlottetown wants to know if young people are “Spiritually Hungry?” That’s the theme for Charlottetown’s inaugural Young Adult Summit in PEI that took place May 9-11.

The theme was developed by the core planning team, a group of young adults in their 20s and 30s from the diocese who have been meeting to prepare for the summit.

“There is a certain hunger among young adults. Young people in the early stages of adulthood are often seeking spiritual roots and beliefs to give guidance and meaning to their lives,” said team member Sara Richard.

The summit hoped to address these needs by offering time for community building by highlighting common areas of interest. A week before the event, almost 50 young adults had registered.

The keynote speakers for the weekend were Dr. Kate DeVries and Fr. John Cusick, formerly the co-directors of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Young Adult Ministry, where they developed the internationally popular Theology on Tap ministry series.

“Young adults in their 20s and 30s, both married and single, bring an energy, a vitality and a strong faith to our churches, parishes and organizations. At one time… they were the backbone of parish life… I want that to happen in parishes today,” said Cusick.

Cusick and DeVries planned to speak on a variety of topics, including the Catholic outlook on life, freedom and the role of God in everyday life.

“We are blessed to have Fr. John Cusick and Dr. Kate DeVries… to lead this event. They have extensive experience in dialoguing effectively with young adults and do so with the utmost compassion,” said Charlottetown Bishop Richard Greco.

The summit also had a number of workshops and a question and answer session about the faith. Greco was to speak at the Sunday luncheon to wrap up the summit.

“Our vision is to provide a special time and space where young adults experience a genuine sense of coming together and an open forum to explore individual questions regarding faith and spirituality,” said planning team member Ryan Gallant on the session topics.

The core planning team hope the summit will provide a way to engage young adults who may feel that they are being underserved by their local parishes.

DeVries notes that while young adults are an important part of the parish community, “they are missing in action.” She added: “this summit can lead to some awesome ways of making a difference.”

In advance of the summit, the Diocese of Charlottetown and the summit’s core planning committee launched Catholic Flame (www.catholicflame.ca), a web site they hope will help to build community before and after the summit. It is a place where young adults can contribute book and movie reviews or posts about other items of interest.

(Van Vliet is a Master of Divinity student at Regis College at the University of Toronto.)

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