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When deciding which parish to join, young adults are encouraged to find parishes with ministry programs that cater to them or that have young adults who are active in parish life.
Lisa and Mike Brandon said sponsoring children, like Rebeca, pictured with them during their recent trip to Costa Rica, has helped them simplify their life and discover the joys of giving to those in need.
Young adults look to parishes to respond to their needs

By JACLYN TWIDWELL
The Catholic Voice

With young adulthood comes a new job, a new place to live and new responsibilities such as paying bills and budgeting.

For many, it also brings choices about life and the option of officially joining a parish.

'The biggest advantage to joining a parish is being inside the circle and being a member," said Marty Kalkowski, coordinator for young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Omaha. 'You are not just an outsider looking in, but someone who has taken the steps to get involved."

Catholics are encouraged to attend parishes in which they reside, but attending other parishes is an option, Kalkowski said.

'I would suggest attending Mass at a variety of parishes and look around to see if other young adults are present and if they are involved," he said. 'Look for young adults as readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, or ushers. It is a good sign if you see young adults in those positions."

In addition to visiting parishes, talking with fellow young adults is also a great way to learn about other parishes.

'I heard through word of mouth that they (St. Leo the Great Parish in Omaha) had a strong, active group of young people and that's one of the first things I wanted to get involved with when I moved to Omaha," said Raye Wilmes, 23. 'I wanted to make sure that I had that faith community.

'My faith is the backbone of my everyday life and just knowing that I have that place to go on a weekly basis is really nice," said Wilmes. 'It is nice to know that you are surrounded by like-minded people."

Wilmes' parish is one of the many that has ministries designed for young adults in the community.

'We have a young adult ministry program that caters to singles and married young adults in their 20s and 30s, and offers on average one to two activities a week," said Tom Murray, director of young adult ministry at St. Leo. 'We have never asked people to belong to the parish in order to attend any of the events our young adult ministry offers. It is something we definitely invite and encourage, but we do not and would not require it."

While non-parishioners are welcomed, Murray said young adults attending parishes without young adults programs also should think about doing something to change that and improve their own parish.

'Some people come to us from parishes that do not have access to young adult ministry and they become a part of the ministry we offer, while at the same time trying to start the same types of programs at their parishes," he said. 'That, I think, is ideal. You want them to say, "˜I wish my parish would provide these kinds of things and I am going to do something to help them do that.'

'For the most part, young adults are looking to reconnect to their Catholic faith after spending time in college, going through some vocational discernment and struggling through issues with the church, which is pretty common in late adolescence and young adulthood," Murray said.. 'I think that the church needs to do as good of a job as possible to welcome young adults back into the life of the parish."

Taking the step to join a parish is easy, and contacting the parish office is the best way to start the process, said Mary Hayes, administrative assistant at St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha.

'Those interested can make a phone call or stop by our office," said Hayes. 'We have a packet for the new parishioner that contains one sheet that we make them fill out for us with their personal information and the rest of the packet is informational sheets about the parish."

Forms are part of the registration process, but each parish has different procedures on how and when the forms are filled out, which can include visits or calls from the welcome committee or new parishioner orientation.

Parish Web sites also are a great resource for more information on the registration process at each individual parish and some even have downloadable registration forms available.

To find a local parish's Web site, go to www.archomaha.com/parishes/listing.html.

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