March 16, 2018
Pastors nationwide are scrambling to find space to accommodate the thousands of young adults returning to the Church. The trend is so alarming that the Pope has scheduled a whistle-stop tour for next week.
What a headline! Can you imagine?!
Hint: “Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
And, yes, I am well aware of the reality.
Whether you spend time doing the research or simply show up at a typical Mass on Sunday, the fact is this: Young adults are not there, at least like they used to be.
The questions are, “Why?” And, “How do we bring them back?”
In the words of Pope John Paul II during his Inaugural Homily in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, October 22, 1978: “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide to the doors for Christ.”
Nearly 40 years later, that’s just what we are doing at St. John Paul II Newman Center.
Located at 71st and Pacific in Omaha, our mission is to evangelize and offer Catholic formation to college students.
Just what does that mean? Some may respond, “religious stuff.”
And, they’re right. As for the process, that’s a different story.
Stop by on any given day, and you’ll catch students hanging out in the common areas. They may be eating Jimmy John’s, studying for Biology, or sitting on the floor playing ping pong on a miniature table.
You may also get a chance to walk through the second of our three spaces: apartment-style housing. Yes, students actually live here!
They eat, sleep, study, watch movies, play video games, and do laundry. Now that the weather’s warming up, they’ll spend time on the roof-top deck chilling out.
But it’s not until you witness the third and final space that it truly all comes together.
To enter the Oratory is like nothing I have ever experienced before. And, I’ve been in a lot of worship spaces. It’s a beautiful blend of traditional and contemporary; a very familiar feel with detail that will captivate, inspire, and lead you to a peaceful calm.
And, that’s just the beginning!
Fill it with the same students you saw eating chips, cramming for a test, or trying to hit a ball over a tiny table, and you have become witness to the real potential of the Catholic Church.
These college students aren’t playing. They are praying; actively engaged in the Liturgy… at the door, the ambo, the communion rail, in the choir loft, the pews… and all on a regular basis!
They aren’t here because they have to be. They are here because they want to be.
It’s because at JPII Newman, we have created a culture where a sometimes misunderstood generation feels welcomed, accepted, encouraged, supported, heard, valued, and loved.
It is that kind of introduction to Jesus that invites them “to welcome Christ and accept his power.”
On Saturday, March 31 (Easter Vigil), this 200-member parish will witness five RCIA candidates doing just that. We are so excited for and, of course, proud of them. God is good…
In closing, JPII Newman is heeding the call of our patron Saint and “Opening Wide the Doors to Christ.” And college students just like you or someone you know are walking through them.
Pretty soon, the building will be full. And, we’ll be forced to expand.
Cathy A. Pacholski | Advancement Officer, JPII Newman Center