HARTFORD – If you’re young and looking to spend Saturday evenings with other intelligent, reflective and spiritually deep young adults, look no further than the Bishop’s Hall behind the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
There, at 7 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of every month, more than 20 young adults have begun gathering for food, fellowship, faith sharing and adoration.
The new group – which has yet to adopt an official name and is tentatively going by St. Joseph’s Cathedral Young Adult Group – kicked off its first official open invitational meeting on Aug. 27. The group is open to young adults ages 18-39 from throughout Connecticut who desire community, meaningful conversation and personal and spiritual growth.
Hartford is the perfect place to start a faith-based young adult group, since it’s the home of several colleges and is the place where many people start their careers, said Father Michael Ruminski, assistant rector of the cathedral and advisor to the group.
“The cathedral is also such an easy-to-find landmark, it should be a place where people can look for community,” he said.
Many young adults feel lost in their home parish, where only one or two other young adults may be visible, he explained. However, a regional young adult faith-based group can offer both social and spiritual support
“An opportunity for prayer, reconciliation and to have a meal together is a wonderful way to grow in the church,” Father Ruminski said.
So far, some attendees of the new cathedral group reside close to Hartford, but others are being drawn from as far away as Ashford, East Haddam, Guilford and Waterbury.
The young Catholics work in a wide range of fields, including schools, hospitals, libraries, insurance firms, financial institutions and retail and machine shops. Some also belong to other young adult groups, specifically, Frassati New Haven, Crossroads4Christ in Columbia and Catholic Underground in Cromwell.
The selection of the fourth Saturday of the month as a meeting date was a strategic choice for the Hartford group, Father Ruminski said, enabling those who belong to other young adult groups that meet earlier in the month to also attend the meeting in Hartford later in the month. “It could bring in people and offer a diverse option,” he said.
Matt Burke, 24, of Portland, who volunteered to help spearhead the Hartford group, believes the cathedral will have little difficulty attracting young adults. “There are people searching and willing, they just need to be made aware,” he said.
What is their aim? “We’re hoping to draw closer to our Lord in community and faith by making authentic friendships through service and prayer,” said Mr. Burke, who graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in vocal performance and now works in Hartford.
Michelle Dupuis, 35, of Wethersfield, who works in retail, said she sees a strong need for a young adult group in Hartford. She also joined the group at its inception and was involved in the initial planning.
“The thing most of us are searching for is that feeling of community, where we can be openly Catholic and feel safe,” she said. “The goal for now is to just exist and provide that spiritual sustenance for each other because where two or three are gathered, Jesus is with us.”
In time, the organizers hope to grow the group through publicity and word-of-mouth advertising.
According to Father Ruminski, the cathedral’s priests have committed to hosting a structured gathering, complete with adoration and reconciliation, once a month.
Father Ruminski said he hopes the group will eventually perform spiritual projects, too. “Just as important as prayer is a community life of service,” he explained.
At the Hartford group’s first monthly open meeting, attendees socialized over hot dogs, hamburgers and salads. Following the social hour, Father Ruminski, age 31, offered a spiritual reflection.
His listeners broke into two smaller groups to discuss Father Ruminski’s reflection and to share their own stories and struggles. Many told how their faith got them through a variety of challenges, such as car breakdowns, new job jitters and social anxiety. Some stories ended in laughter all around.
Afterward, the young adults gathered in a side chapel of the cathedral for an hour of adoration, which was punctuated by professionally presented liturgical music: hymns with organ accompaniment. The music was provided by Mr. Burke and Judy Bowers, 31, a graduate student in opera at UConn, who both served as cantors while Evan Cogswell, 25, a graduate student in organ at Yale, served as the organist.
Father Ruminski also offered the opportunity for reconciliation.
The next monthly meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 22. For more information, contact Matt Burke at email@example.com or Father Ruminski at (860) 249-8431.