Friday, August 17, 2018
   
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Faith Connections Ministry Update

The past few months at Faith Connections have been nothing short of exciting and memorable. We organized five Speak Up sessions which took place from September to November last year in preparation for this year’s Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. 

Our ministry was gifted with the opportunity to hear from several hundred young adults from all over the Greater Toronto Area. We took this opportunity as one to attentively listen. We listened to what the young adults were saying and we were committed to recognizing their needs and finding ways to respond to them. 
 
There were three reoccurring themes that came up at each of the five sessions: 
  1. Young adults have a desire for greater community; 
  2. They would like for their parishes and young adult ministries to make better use of social media; 
  3. They want a deeper understanding of why we do the things we do within the church. 
One of our wonderful volunteers and a facilitator at the Speak Up sessions, M.J., had this to say:
 
“One of the themes that consistently came up in our discussions was the desire for authentic community. I feel that Faith Connections has been great at building a community of faith through enriching events. Organizers consistently provide positive ‘group sharing’ experiences and unite and engage young adults at every event, and this makes volunteering with them so enriching and so much fun!” 
 
Our hope as we plan for the next year is to continue to build a strong community that young adults can feel very much a part of as they are welcomed with great warmth and open arms. We also hope to develop a social media strategy in which young adults experience the Faith Connections community on an online platform, as many nowadays are frequently found on social media. 
 
In hope of addressing the last theme from Speak Up, we are also planning topics and events to respond to the young adults expressed desire to ‘know more.’ I will provide more on this topic in the weeks to come.
 
Though the Synod has been a big part of the excitement surrounding our Faith Connections ministry, we have had many other wonderful events over the past few months, one of which was the Advent Retreat, entitled “Faithful as the Father,” facilitated by Joe Egan in December of last year. As well…
  • In February, we hosted our annual young adult ministry networking evening with this year’s theme being “fostering community.” Dr. Josephine Lombardi did a great job speaking about building community through self-love and recognizing just how loved we are by God. It was very inspiring and left all those gathered with a new perspective. 
  • On Ash Wednesday, we began our Lenten Listening Retreat which concluded on Easter. This retreat continues to validate the desire young adults have for spiritual direction and accompaniment in their spiritual journeys. 
  • In March, we had a Hike & Prayer event at Ontario Place entitled “Beauty so Ancient, and so New!” which centered on rediscovering ‘ancient’ beauty through ‘new’ eyes. The young adults really enjoyed pondering on various reflections in a group setting, while learning something new from one another. 
Theology on Tap continues to flourish and grow with our latest one taking place at the Duke of York Pub on Monday of this week on the topic of “Eco-Spirituality.” Rachel Ball, a PhD student in theology at St. Michael’s College, did a remarkable job at discussing the importance of ecological awareness and how we can do this through a spiritual lens, making many references to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. 
 
It was encouraging to see an astonishing 16 new young adults attend their first Theology on Tap that week. When asked what had motivated them to come, many of them remarked how important the topic was to them, but they also shared how they had heard a lot of great things about our Theology on Tap events. 
 
At the end of the evening, the new attendees expressed how much they enjoyed themselves and said they would be coming back. Though that was our last event for the year, we are looking forward to starting up again on September 28, 2018. 
 
There is so much I could share, but to do that, I might have to write a book! What I can say is that the young adults of Faith Connections never cease to amaze and inspire me. Their passion for our ministry combined with their eagerness and curiosity to “know more” has been a great motivator and we continue to learn so much from them each day. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such inspiring people, and I look forward to all the exciting and wonderful shared moments ahead! 
 
Kat Ryba, Program Director
 

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