Two local parishes selected for new initiative targeting young adults

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., and St. Augustine Church in Lebanon, Ky., have been selected to take part in a new Young Adult Initiative of St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind.

The program is funded by a $1.38 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to “improve parish outreach to young adults and better engage them with the Catholic Church,” a news release from St. Meinrad said.

Kevin Stetter, young adult minister at Immaculate Conception, said the partnership with St. Meinrad will better equip him and other pastoral leaders to connect with young Catholics.

“Regardless of what area of the country you are in, young Catholics in their 20s are not as connected to a parish” as previous generations,” he said.

Stetter is in the process of creating a core team of about eight to 10 individuals that will help guide the parish’s involvement in the young adult initiative.

Father Anthony Chandler, pastor of Immaculate Conception, said he hopes this program will “awaken excitement about the faith” among young adults at his parish.

“I hope as an institution we can look at ways to encourage a sense of community among this age group, to see how the church is relevant to their lives in today’s world,” he said.

The two parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville are among 16 selected for the initiative. The other parishes hail from 13 different dioceses in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and Ohio. The parishes range in size from 259 households to 2,578 households.

“I think the outreach and ministry to the young church is going through a time of rediscovery and redefinition,” said Tammy Becht, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation at St. Meinrad. “We’re honored to be part of the New Evangelization by creating dialogue and an atmosphere that focuses on the young church with these 16 congregations.”

Mike Luescher, who serves as the director of youth ministry at St. Augustine, said the parish has tried to implement young adult programs for a number of years but haven’t always been successful.

“We are hoping with this initiative to be able to be in contact with people on a wider range who perhaps have been more successful with this than we have,” he said.

Luescher said the church “desperately needs” active young Catholics in parishes.

“Currently, we are not speaking to the people of this age. We have to find new, better ways to communicate with them but we cannot do that unless they tell us how to do that,” he said.

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