You're probably familiar with the St. Catherine of Siena quote: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."
A Rooted in Faith - Forward in Hope grant, applied for and awarded in 2021, is adding fuel to the fire by supporting the growth of the new Diocesan Young Adult Ministry.
Mike Hayes, the Director of the Young Adult Ministry, helped align collaborative groups or pods. "Every parish has some amazing individuals seeking community, but few had a critical mass of young adults," says Mike. "If one parish plans an event, three people show up, that's not the fun, faithful group our young adults seek. If you put a few parishes together, things start to catch fire."
No one knows this better than Joe Vicario, the co-founder of Catching Fire (catchingfirestc.com) and St. Columbkille parishioner. Joe wanted to connect with more young adults navigating their faith in today's complicated world. He approached his pastor, Father Anthony Suso, with the idea of a small discussion-based group. The pastor was immediately on board, and Catching Fire was born.
Joe says, "We were founded on the idea of creating saints. Our goal is to equip our members with the tools needed to better live out their authentic Catholic lives. We hope all walk out a
more virtuous person than when they came in."
It started with just five or six people around a single discussion topic each week. Since Catching Fire has become part of a pod with several Parma-area parishes, the group has lived up to its name with more than 400 members, with 70 young adults attending discussions and other events each week. Thanks in part to the support from the Catholic Community Foundation, Mike Hayes is working on repeating the success of Joe's efforts by providing leadership training for other young adult leaders in our diocese.
"Without support from the Foundation, we wouldn't have been able to expand our ministry," Mike says. "There would be a few pockets of activity but not the groundswell, diocese-wide movement it's becoming. We're more effectively organizing the leaders and putting on high-quality events.
You can hear more of Mike's thoughts on the Question of Faith podcast, a show he co-hosts with Father Damian Ference, Vicar for Evangelization.