Young Catholic Professionals overcome obstacles presented by coronavirus
FORT WORTH — COVID-19 has led to wide-scale restrictions, especially with in-person events, but Young Catholic Professionals in the Diocese of Fort Worth has thrived online, restarting old events and creating new activities catering to young adults in the new virtual environment.
“Online has definitely been a challenge because prior to COVID, we had a really good formula,” Fort Worth Chapter President Chris Wood said. “We [host] our executive speaker [series], which is our flagship event; we do happy hours twice a year; we do panels and discussions. We have a really good formula, so the challenge was that there was an influx of virtual events across the nation.”
To combat what Wood calls “Zoom fatigue,” YCP leaders have implemented new activities for the Fort Worth chapter to keep things interesting and continued old favorites online.
The young adults have enjoyed virtual happy hours and Rosaries, a “Chopped”-themed event in which leadership showed off their cooking skills, and attended Cowtown Brush Up with masks and social distancing taken into account.
The national office of YCP is working to start a new program called “Forums,” for which members can pre-register. This is a response to both the community’s wish for small group interaction, as well as a way to provide members with a peer group of under ten people so as to meet pandemic safety guidelines.
“While many small group models tend to focus on a spiritual formation like a Bible study or video series — since there are already so many of those that are really good — we thought to create this Forums program that focuses on goal-setting and using your peers to troubleshoot those areas in your personal, professional, and spiritual life where you can grow,” National YCP Vice President Peter Blute said.
YCP’s Fort Worth chapter is working to bring back old activities for its members.
Last Thursday, as part of their Executive Speaker Series, they hosted Knights of Columbus General Agent Chris Stark to speak on the topic of Why Isn’t God’s Plan Faster?
Wood spoke highly of the talk, saying that Stark provided great diversity in his discussion as he spoke about his conversion to the Catholic faith, his wife and children, the importance of the Knights of Columbus, and how his faith influences his professional life.
“I think this young organization has great purpose in business and faith and in our personal lives, and I commend all the members for gathering and networking in Catholic circles,” Stark, a past YCP member, said. “Catholics helping Catholics is a beautiful thing.”
Despite difficulties, Wood believes that with creativity, the virtual aspect of YCP can be beneficial. People who ordinarily would be unable to attend due to busy schedules can watch events at any time or join the virtual event from home.
Blute commented that it allows chapters across the country to work together to become more connected, allowing members to develop fellowship and to access information and speakers which would be unavailable to them under normal circumstances.
An upcoming YCP Fort Worth event will be co-hosted with YCP Chicago, something which wouldn’t have happened before the pandemic.
“[Our online presence] allows some of these amazing speakers to have a wider audience, not just within their city, but across all of the chapters,” Blute said. “It’s given chapters a great opportunity to collaborate with one another.”