By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Members of Louisville Young Catholics (LYC) and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church filled the Schnitzelburg parish to capacity Sept. 14 for the fifth annual Young Adult Mass.
The liturgy, celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and several local priests who work with young adults, was followed by the Louisville Young Catholics’ End of Summer Bash. It featured a live band, craft beer, a cookout and a “faith and service expo” presented by representatives of about two dozen organizations. Among them were agencies of the Archdiocese of Louisville, service groups and parishes.
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Brandy Mader, a leader of LYC who estimated that about 150 young adults attended the event. “There were so many people there and so much support from people pitching in. It was much bigger than last year. In the past it’s been in the daytime and not many young adults want to give up a Sunday afternoon.”
The young adult Mass was scheduled intentionally during St. Elizabeth’s regular 7 p.m. Sunday liturgy, Mader said, partly because that time is convenient to young adults and partly because it’s important for young adults to be part of a larger church community.
“There were all generations there,” Mader said. “I hope that can be what every church can look like for every Mass time,” she said. “I think that’s the key to young adult ministry — having Mass and doing things with all ages and then doing things just as young adults.”
She said the faith and service expo was new this year and also was intended to help young adults connect with the larger church.
“It’s not just about getting people to get out and socialize, but to get people out and connected,” she said.
Mader knows the value of feeling connected first hand. She joined LYC about four years ago and, as she became more familiar with church communities, she felt called to church ministry. She now serves as the pastoral associate for the clustered parishes of St. Elizabeth on East Burnett Street, St. Therese of Lisieux on Schiller Avenue and Our Mother of Sorrows on Eastern Parkway. Together, the parishes are known as the Pax Christi Collaborative.
During the evening Mass at St. Elizabeth, Archbishop Kurtz spoke to the young adults and the other families in the congregation for nearly twenty minutes. His homily served as a catechetical session on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the feast day celebrated on Sept. 14.
Urging his listeners to “make the cross real in your life,” the archbishop pointed to a statue of the parish’s patroness, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and noted that she was married at age 14, widowed at 20 and dead at 24.
“She had every reason to turn inward on herself,” he said. Yet she didn’t, the archbishop said, noting that instead she turned toward God and reached out to others. “This is what the cross does for us,” he said. “It gives us the power, despite what’s happening in our lives, to turn our lives upward and outward.”
He urged those in the congregation who are parents to consider the magnitude of God’s sacrifice of his son, especially as expressed in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son.”
“God’s love for me and you is so great that he would give his own son,” the archbishop said. Christ himself went on to sacrifice for others, he added. “Jesus humbled himself. He thought less of himself so he could think more of others. That’s a recipe for any one of us.”
Archbishop Kurtz noted that a retreat director long ago urged him to “make the cross real” in his own life. In turn, he asked the congregation to do the same.
“Replace the corpus of Jesus (on the cross) and replace it with someone who loves you deeply,” he said, suggesting parents, other relatives or a spouse. “Imagine that person suffering and sacrificing for you and then you will begin to discover the mystery and Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
“To accept the cross is to accept the fact that we aren’t on our own. With the grace of Christ, all things are possible,” he added.
One of the evening’s concelebrants, Father David Harris, is administrator of the three parishes that form the Pax Christi Collaborative. Under his leadership, young adults who populate the area have flocked to St. Elizabeth. He noted after the Mass that while about 150 to 200 young people attended the Mass, there were only about 75 more than usual.
Mader said the young adult Catholic community owes a lot to him, adding, “Father Dave has such vision for us. It takes a lot of energy to put these things on, but I think it’s so worth it.”
St. Elizabeth’s 7 p.m. Sunday Mass caters to young adults and families, offering childcare in the Kids’ Zone and a cry room during the liturgy.
After the weekly Mass, Pax Christi Young Catholics usually gather at Check’s Cafe, a restaurant across the street from the church.
Other upcoming events for young adult Catholics in the area include Christ in the City, a monthly Holy Hour and social time organized by LYC. The next one is set for Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. The location has not been set, according to the LYC website, louisvilleyoungcatholics.com, as of Sept. 15.
On the evening of Nov. 23, nationally known singer-songwriter Jesse Manibusan will give a coffee-house style concert at Holy Trinity Church.