Third annual Emerging Adults Conference encourages young adults to spread the Good News

Jacqueline Burkepile

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

More than 80 young adult Catholics gathered for a faith-filled weekend at the third annual Emerging Adults Conference Aug. 2-4 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grapevine. The conference targeted young adults ages 18-29, giving them the opportunity to pray, listen to speakers, and socialize with fellow young adult Catholics.

The theme of the weekend centered on the Year of Faith, encouraging young adults to return to their daily lives with an evangelical mindset.

The primary keynote speaker for the weekend was Gene Monterastelli, well known for his work with Apex Ministries. His topics focused on holiness, prayer, and God’s unconditional love God for the human person.

“We spent time talking about the idea of what it means to live a holy life, and how other people’s expectations of who we are and how we live impact the choices we make in both positive and negative ways,” Monterastelli explained about his first keynote presentation on Saturday.

Saturday’s conference activities also consisted of workshop presentations covering a variety of topics, including early Christianity, college debt reduction, the Eucharist, and evangelization. Another presentation included the Church’s position on abortion, contraception, and homosexual marriage.

University of Dallas Campus Minister Scott Chuchla presented the workshop covering aspects of early Christianity. Chuchla used the example of the early Christians’ sense of community, to encourage young adults to remain dynamic in parish life and engage in activities with other young adults.

Young adults participate in small group discussion at the third annual Emerging Conference at St. Francis Assis Parish in Grapevine on August 2-4. The conference, aimed specifically at young adults between the ages of 18-29, featured keynote talks by Gene Monterastelli, workshops, prayer and adoration, Mass, social activities, and praise and worship.

Young adults participate in small group discussion at the third annual Emerging Conference at St. Francis Assis Parish in Grapevine on August 2-4. The conference, aimed specifically at young adults between the ages of 18-29, featured keynote talks by Gene Monterastelli, workshops, prayer and adoration, Mass, social activities, and praise and worship. (Photo by Juan Guajardo/NTC)

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Chuchla said the people he met at the conference seemed to be toward the end of their collegiate careers, or perhaps just moving out of them. To help them get through that transition, which can be very difficult, Chuchla said, he advised the young adults to  “Go and get together with friends. Find them. Be together, because that is what will keep you in your faith.”

In Youth Minister Jimmy Suarez’s workshop on evangelization, he told inspirational stories, discussed apologetics, and recommended literature for the young adults to read.

“Telling stories is a great way to share the faith with other people,” said Suarez, youth minister of St. Bartholomew Parish in Fort Worth. “We need to be ready and open to accept God wherever He is, and to accept the Holy Spirit working through us, no matter where we are.”

Father Charlie Calabrese, director of Catholic Campus Ministry at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, celebrated the Saturday vigil Mass. In his homily, he encouraged young adults to spread the Good News throughout the world and to use their gifts for God’s glory. “Make a mess and stir things up in your diocese or church,” said Fr. Calabrese. “Be the human face of Jesus.”

Many attending the conference said they would attend again and would recommend the conference to others.

Twenty-two year-old Justin Veitenheimer a member of Midwestern State University’s Catholic Campus Ministry said the timing of the Emerging Conference is good, coming right before the new semester begins. He explained that he experiences a “drought” and  lack of a faith community during the summer months, along with many other college students.

“It’s a good way to get your faith back into action before the semester starts,” he said. “[It gives you the opportunity to] really go back to school with a faith-filled heart.”

During his final keynote, Gene Monterastelli left young adults with his closing words of wisdom regarding God’s love. “You are unconditionally loved and you are worthy of that unconditional love. There’s nothing you need to do today or any other day in order to merit that love,” he said. “Work, struggle, and daily action are the process of giving ourselves permission to receive that love.”

Jennifer Landry, a 22 year-old native of Ohio, flew to the area for the Emerging Conference. She explained her plans to take Monterastelli’s final keynote with her.

“I enjoyed Gene’s last keynote talk about unconditional love,” said Landry. “I really want to challenge myself to be the person I want to be. I want to put [his message] into my life….”

More than 80 young adult Catholics gathered for a faith-filled weekend at the third annual Emerging Adults Conference Aug. 2-4 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grapevine. The conference targeted young adults ages 18-29, giving them the opportunity to pray, listen to speakers, and socialize with fellow young adult Catholics.

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