(Archbishop Chaput serves in the Archdiocese of Denver.)
One of the joys I have experienced since coming to northern Colorado is seeing the large number of young adults involved in the life of our archdiocese, both in parishes and interparochial young adult groups.
These groups offer much more than simply the opportunity to meet others of the same faith although that is centrally important. They bring young people together to strengthen one another in the practice of the faith. In other words, these groups are communities of faith and their purpose is to help young people grow in the faith and experience the joy of Christian fellowship.
The U.S. bishops have published a pastoral statement on young adults in the Church. It outlines three goals: empowering young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ; drawing youth to responsible participation in the faith community's life, mission and work; and fostering each young person's personal and spiritual growth. In general, it encourages young people to use their gifts now and not wait for the future.
I think the most successful way to reach out to young adults is for the young adults themselves to invite others to share in the life of the Church. Many young adults are longing to become involved in their parishes, but don't know where to begin. Yet, once they are engaged, they stay engaged.
I want to do all I can to encourage young adult ministry and be supportive of it in every way. Some time ago, I met with a group of young adults at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization and they asked that the archdiocese hire a full-time young adult minister to organize them and highlight their presence in the Church. I don't know yet if we will be able to do this, but the fact that they requested that kind of representation at the archdiocesan level was encouraging to me.
At one time, the archdiocese offered a young adults' Mass at the John Paul II Center. We are not able to do that now, but when I meet with young adults, I invite them to come to the Cathedral for the Sunday evening Mass which I always celebrate when I am in town and my schedule is free. I would like to see it become a young adult Mass on a weekly basis. My hope is that these young adults will go back to serve their parish communities with renewed energy and enthusiasm. The Cathedral is the “Mother Church” of the archdiocese and because young adults belong in the heart of the Church it is important for them to know that they are loved in a special way.