One of the main focuses of the Young Adult Initiative is accompaniment. (See our previous blog post on accompaniment to learn more about this ministry model.)
In order to accompany young people, we need to know what they care about. We need to know what is important to them. We need to know their struggles and hopes and challenges and desires.
We need to listen, and we need to care.
Saint Meinrad recently attended the SEEK Catholic conference in St. Louis where 17,000 participants – most of them college students – gathered to worship, share in community, and learn about our common call to discipleship.
At the Saint Meinrad booth, we had a prayer intentions wall, and we invited attendees to write down (1) what was on their heart or (2) who needed their prayers. We gathered more than 800 prayer intentions by the end of the week! After the conference, we sorted and tagged the prayers to see what our young people are praying for.
By and large, participants offered prayer intentions for the people they care about: for conversion/reversions to faith; for healing in mind, body, or spirit; for healing and reconciliation of families; for the vocations of their friends and family; for healthy marriages and pregnancies; for the deceased and for those who mourn. Participants also prayed for themselves, most especially in the areas of vocational discernment, growth in virtue, the desire to know and trust God, and peace in the midst of anxiety.
Overall, these prayers look much the same as mine.
As I reflected on this data and looked through the stacks of handwritten prayer intentions, a few things struck me:
- As isolating as our experiences can be (grief, addiction, mental health issues, loneliness, anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion, to name a few), we are more united than we realize.
- There is a deep longing among our young adults for a relationship with God.
- Young people perceive the need for healing and conversion in their families, communities, and in their own hearts. By turning to prayer, they recognize that this healing is not within our power; we have to turn to God.
This is only a snapshot of what our young people bring to prayer, but the more we know about their lives and their hearts, the better we can accompany them.
-Cassie Schutzer, director of the Young Adult Initiative