By Jay Nies
“The eyes of all creatures look to You, and You give them their food in due time.”
The verses of Psalm 145 drifted antiphonally across the chapel of the Alphonse J. Schwartze Memorial Catholic Center.
About 55 young Catholic adults joined Bishop W. Shawn McKnight and a handful of priests in praying Evening Prayer for the Friday of the Fourth week of Easter.
Afterward, they adjourned to the conference room down the hall for a potluck meal and an evening of fellowship.
Each brought a dish to share, so there was plenty of food.
“This is a great opportunity to meet our new bishop, to meet new people, and to share our lives as Catholic young adults,” the event’s organizers stated.
The group consisted of Catholic men and women, ages “18 to 35-ish,” from around the diocese, mostly the Jefferson City and Columbia areas.
“Obviously, this isn’t everyone, but it’s probably more Catholic young adults than you knew were in the area!” said Celina Pinedo, a member of Sacred Heart parish in Columbia, who is active in the Jefferson City Young Adults (JCYA) group.
She noted that community is an important aspect of Christian life. “Throughout Scripture, the Apostles came together as a community to break bread and be together,” she noted. “And even when they went out to evangelize, they went two-by-two and wrote letters to each other and stayed connected.”
Spread out across a vast diocese with many small communities, it’s easy to feel isolated.
“So it’s important that we come together and be intentional in forming community,” she said.
She encouraged everyone present to spread out and get to know people outside their own circle of friends.
“Maybe step outside your comfort zone a bit, and meet some people that you don’t know tonight,” she said.
She urged those at the event to become active in a young Catholic adult group near where they live. If there is no such group, she suggested helping get one started.
She also encouraged them to volunteer to help facilitate parish and diocesan activities for Catholic teenagers — such as Teens Encounter Christ; Camp Maccabee for high-school-age boys; Camp Sienna for high-school-age girls; the CHRISTpower service retreat; and the Young Disciples in Action summer mission trip.
“Connect with one another, but also remember that we’re called to give back to our Church,” she said. “We can give awesome witnesses to our youth in this diocese of what it means to live for Christ.”
Bishop McKnight thanked everyone for attending and said he was looking forward to getting to know everyone a bit better.
“Heavenly Father, pour out Your Spirit upon us,” the bishop prayed. “Give us a spirit of gratitude for the many blessings You have bestowed on us in our lives — the gift of friendship, the gift of life, and the gift of faith.”
Also attending were: Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki VA, diocesan vicar general and pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City; Father Gregory Oligschlaeger, diocesan vocation director; Father Christopher Cordes, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Columbia; Father Joshua Duncan, associate pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish; and John DeLaporte, diocesan youth ministry coordinator.
Ms. Pinedo presented the bishop a spiritual bouquet, with promises of prayer for him on behalf of those who attended the event.
“Thank you!” he said. “These are much needed, let me tell you.”