Commission plans to focus on 18- to 35-year-olds in the Archdiocese of Vancouver
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic
Caption: Gerard Garcia (left), chairman of the recently formed Commission for Young Adult Ministry (CYAM), poses with his fellow members at a recent meeting. The volunteer group hopes to offer ideas for bringing alienated youth back to the faith. Photo courtesy of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Young adult Catholics in the Archdiocese of Vancouver now have another organization on their side. The Commission for Young Adult Ministry (CYAM) is a volunteer group dedicated to addressing the needs of 18- to 35-year-old Catholics.
"This is a commission made up of young adults who come from different backgrounds," said CYAM chairman Gerard Garcia, a consultant for the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM).
He explained that the commission is one of the latent responses to the Archdiocesan Synod held in 2000. The commission will meet monthly as an advisory body to the OYYAM team.
There are 452,000 registered Catholics in the archdiocese; 33 per cent of them are between the ages of 25 and 44.
"At a time when so many people in their 20s are without direction and hope, this initiative hits the sweet spot," exclaimed Ray Tarnai, an engineering project manager who is a CYAM member.
He has confidence that his expertise will help the team overcome obstacles. The first challenge involves ironing out their busy schedules.
Another member, Mary Joyce Chan of St. Paul's Parish in Richmond, brings a classic youth-ministry background to the table. Though baptized a Catholic, she considers herself a convert because she was not immersed in the faith while growing up. Eventually, in 2008, she completed the RCIA program.
"I think one of the challenges will be the time needed to really get to know who the young adults are (in the archdiocese)," she commented.
Garcia has seen firsthand the positive effects of the work of 20-something committed Catholics. Now he hopes CYAM can help to utilize their gifts effectively.
"For example, if a pastor calls and asks for help to form a young adult group, then our group could provide help to his parish," he theorized.
A recent example of an effort to reawaken interest in Catholicism was the university students' Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral Oct. 20.
"We're taking what exists and expanding upon it (because) there's a need. What can we do to address these young adults?"