Young Adult Ministry Thrives at the Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker

By Fr. Terry O’Connell, OMI

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The entire group gathers at St. Joseph the Worker Shrine for the launching of the program

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Fr. Terry O’Connell, OMI

As part of the “New Evangelization movement in the Church, organized groups are emerging specifically geared to young adults (ages 18-35) – for example, on campuses: F.O.C.U.S. (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and The Newman Connection.  One such Catholic young adult ministry that uniquely straddles both collegians and those still discerning their life direction as they enter the work force is Pure in Heart (P.I.H.).  This international group’s mission summarized in a nutshell is “educating, inspiring and empowering young people.”  Obviously, the ministry is grounded in fellowship but it is equally committed to weekly prayer meetings incorporating Mass, Adoration, Reconciliation and the Rosary.

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Pure in Heart emphasizes: dedication to spreading Jesus’ teachings on the sanctity of life; the beauty of human sexuality and the joys of living chastely as well as the faithful discernment of one’s vocation in life.  The exploration of Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body forms the basis for the group’s faith education component – drawing on those spiritual insights and combining rigorous factual data from biological and psychological sciences, a comprehensive/holistic view of our graced human condition is affirmed.  It allows young people to find their place in a “culture of life” – a culture at variance with many of the values promoted in contemporary society.

Several years ago, a chapter of Pure in Heart was established at the center-city Oblate Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker in Lowell, MA.  They meet every alternate Tuesday for an evening of prayer and fellowship under the chaplaincy of Fr. Terry O’Connell, OMI.  More recently, a member of this young adult group initiated an outreach to extend the benefits of the gatherings to other groupings of young adults who oftentimes feel very much disconnected.

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This initiative is based at the Shrine of St. Joseph but straddles the boundaries of area parishes and even extends across the borders of several New England states. Every 3rd Friday of the month, the gathering is hosted in a different area parish – its moniker is “Jesus a Cross the Border” and since its inception, the gatherings have consistently drawn some 120-150 young adults for a monthly evening of prayer, reconciliation and fellowship.