Young adult group’s healthy growth rooted in meaningful Gospel parable
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”
FORT WORTH — A dynamic group of young adults from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fort Worth has found a way to grow in faith and become an important part of the greater community by following Christ’s teachings outlined in a brief, yet powerful parable.
Aptly named, “Mustard Seed,” the group includes about 25 unmarried Catholics ages 18 to 35 who are on fire for Christ, committed to Church and community service, and driven to establish meaningful friendships. Members meet weekly following Thursday evening Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe.
For young adults who thrive on fellowship and being active, the COVID-19 pandemic severely curtailed their activities. In October 2021, however, with related restrictions lifted, they hit the ground running in a big way, and the Mustard Seed ministry again took root.
Members refer to this time as a “revival” and are vocal in expressing their relief in being able to see and interact with each other again. They are also thankful they can now carry out their young adult ministry mission to grow their faith in the spirit of Christ’s parable of the mustard seed.
The group’s formula for applying the parable to its mission is simple and includes three stages, which they label as “Sprouting, Nourishment, and Fruit.”
“Sprouting” is a beginning stage for new members when they share information about themselves and learn more about others in the ministry.
“Nourishment” includes participation in parish and diocesan social events. It also includes Bible studies, catechesis, praying the Rosary, retreats, and fellowship.
In the final stage, bearing “Fruit,” members serve their church and the community through events such as food drives, Holy Hours of Adoration of the Eucharist, parish activities and evangelization, as well as other creative ways.
“In our faith, it says if you have faith as small as mustard seed, you can achieve great things,” said Adrian Romero, the Mustard Seed’s group leader. “That is our goal. Every day we put a little bit of our faith together and come up with new ideas.”
Romero, who works in the field of human resources, continued, “Every month we try to do at least one social event and at least one community service event. These can be parish-wide, community-wide, or with other parishes because we’re all one diocese.”
Over the past year, activities have included serving food to the homeless in conjunction with Under the Bridge Ministries, cleaning up trash as part of a Keep Fort Worth Beautiful program, helping raise money for their parish, beautifying their church with painting and decoration projects, and serving meals after all four Sunday Masses.
The group has also prayed the Rosary outdoors at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church grotto and attended Catholic retreats. In addition, members have gathered for sand volleyball games, hibachi dinners, game nights, and other fun and entertaining events that foster fellowship.
That’s not all. The Mustard Seed has conducted prayer nights, participated in events with the Young Catholic Professionals group in the area, and created a Mustard Seed video series to help people grow in their faith.
“We’re gaining momentum,” Romero said.
Luis Hernandez agreed. A local business consultant, Hernandez was new to the area when he began attending Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
“I knew I wanted to join an organization, and what better than to join one based around your morals, values, and beliefs in Catholicism,” Hernandez said. “They all made me feel like family and this was home.”
Juan Becerra, a local architect, described himself as “a lost soul” when he joined the group. The fellowship and sense of purpose he discovered kept him coming back. “I found a community, friendship, and a family to grow with,” Becerra said.
Abigail Cruz and Suzzette Villeda, both college students, are some of the younger members of the Mustard Seed. “I wanted to keep growing in my faith,” Cruz said.
“I liked being able to share both faith and friendships,” Villeda added. “I’m thankful for the people here, who I can rely on.”
Cesar Martinez, a local painter, was dealing with serious life struggles when he joined the group. He said he prayed hard for God to show him that He existed. God answered his prayers, Martinez said, adding that the friendships he has developed through involvement with the Mustard Seed help to keep him on track and strong in his faith.
Tania Magdaleno, a local nurse, enjoys the fellowship and sense of purpose that comes with membership in the Mustard Seed. “After a long day at work, it just feels good at the end of the day to be with the group. We all have that one thing in common, which is faith in Christ at the center. I’m a firm believer, I have a lot of faith and it feels good to be around others who feel the same way.”
Gillermo Gomez, who is in his final year of law school, said he also feels a strong bond with other members of the group who share similar values. “It’s like a team,” Gomez said. “I feel a commitment to the people I’ve met here. I feel like something’s missing if I haven’t seen them during the week.”
Romero, the group leader, summed it up best. “We mentor each other,” he said. “We have an environment where young adults feel comfortable to speak about their faith and meet people who are like-minded. They feel like they belong.
“And following Christ is number one. If we’re not following God and being formed in our faith, there’s really no point in our ministry. Being Christ-centered is what pushes us. Without God, we can’t do anything. We all want to connect more with God.”