Young Adult Board provides insight, answers questions

Members of the new Young Adult Board gathered for its fourth meeting Nov. 10 at the Maloney Center. Pictured from left are Monica Vander Woude, Gary Hermann, Sarah Warner and Andrew Salsman. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

Young adult ministry is changing. One way the Archdiocese of Louisville is keeping up with that change is through its Young Adult Board.

The Archdiocese of Louisville Youth and Young Adult Office has chartered a board of young adults that plans and promotes the growth of young adult ministry in the archdiocese. So far, the board has met four times.

Sarah Warner, one of the board’s co-coordinators, called it a “working board” with a responsibility to act in the community.

“We’re here to answer questions,” she said in a recent interview. “We’re here to be part of the community in whatever way the Lord wants us.”

Currently, 12 young adults serve — though there is room for one more.

The board has spent its first four meetings on three tasks: defining what the board is and does; discussing a 2022 report from the St. Meinrad Young Adult Initiative; and serving in an advisory capacity to parishes, agencies and others that want to learn more about engaging young adults.

The board has already advised two groups about how to engage youth and young adults.

Warner said the Society of St. Vincent de Paul asked the board how to get the word out about its mission and attract more young adults. And Father Martin Linebach, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption, sought advice about beginning a music and candlelight Mass for youth.

“We spent time going around the room giving feedback on how to increase that kind of activity,” Warner said of their advice to St. Vincent de Paul. For the cathedral, the board suggested a scheduled monthly Mass that would give rural churches the opportunity to send their young adults and youth.

Sarah Warner serves as a co-coordinator of the new Young Adult Board, which is part of the archdiocese’s Office for Youth and Young Adults. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

The members of the board are diverse — they’re age 18 to 39 and come from a range of cultural backgrounds. They represent 11 parishes around the archdiocese.

Warner said the group’s diversity, brought together by their shared faith, has been eye opening to her. Despite their differing backgrounds, she said there’s a “spirit of fostering community” among the members.

“I get to discern the Lord’s will with like-minded individuals and experience a great diversity and value and dignity that they bring to the meetings,” she said.
Karl Dolson, the office’s director, said one of the board’s charges is to discern best practices for ministry with young adults and share those with the archdiocese, parishes and colleges.

To do that, the board spends part of its meetings discussing the St. Meinrad Young Adult Initiative, a multi-year project that studies young adult trends and ministries in specific parishes.

“It identifies five universal challenges for ministry with young adults,” Dolson said in a recent interview. “So we talked about that … and that was a very fruitful discussion.”

Dolson said board members are encouraged to intentionally grow in their own understanding of young adult ministry so that they can “advise well, so they can give good feedback in response to groups that approach.”

The board has met four times already, and plans to meet every other month. Dolson said the members are “getting their feet under them, they’re figuring out what they’re about, what their processes are, how to move forward. I’m really excited about where it’s going to go and what they’re going to do.”

Warner said she thinks the board reflects the synod process the church is experiencing.

“I see a great future ahead, just from the inquiries so far,” she said. “The future for the board is a journey together like the synod. It’s the voice of the young, middle age and old coming together more fully.”

If your parish or agency would like to consult the Young Adult Board, email yaboard@archlou.org.

Members of the Young Adult Board, from left, Gary Hermann, Sydney Cadle, Sarah Warner and Andrew Salsman, gathered at the Maloney Center before a recent meeting Nov. 10. The board spends time advising groups interested in reaching more young adults and assisting the archdiocese in its four-year agency plan for young adults. (Photo by Marnie McAllister)

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