From Los Angeles comes this inspiring story of a deacon and his wife who are leading a ministry that is helping young people reconnect with their faith:
“The church usually skips a generation; it goes from serving youth to serving adults, and young adults are usually left out,” Rouzan said, echoing her peers.
The 37-year-old administrative assistant at Loyola Marymount University felt the need of stretching her relationship with God, but it was hard for her to apply the Scriptures to her own life.
Until she joined the young adult ministry at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Los Angeles, where 80 percent of the 1,000 registered families are African Americans. She is now the director of the group’s “Shining FAITH” choir and one of the ministry leaders.
Retreats and prayer groups conducted by Deacon Douglass Johnson and his wife Sheree, who made the young adult ministry the focus of their diaconate, led to Bible studies and round table faith sharing discernment sessions. That in turn resulted in the organization of a “solid core group of leaders,” who are the “foundation of the ministry,” according to Johnson.In an effort to draw more members, Holy Name of Jesus recently hosted its first Young Adult Monthly Mass, with Father Paul Spellman, pastor, presiding.
“This is a new beginning, you are giving birth to new hope,” Deacon Johnson said in his homily. “You are not forgotten,” he told the young adults, reiterating the ministry’s motto “Young but not forgotten.”
He also praised Pope John Paul II for “championing young adult ministries” and supported those who “have doubts in their spiritual journey.”
“When we become Thomas, Jesus says, ‘That’s ok, I’m not going to persuade you; touch me, I’m still broken,’” he said, citing the Scriptural account when St. Thomas doubted the appearance of the risen Christ.
“His [Jesus’] gift to us is his brokenness, so we can also be wounded healers,” Deacon Johnson noted. He urged the assembly to “stand at the cross in prayer” asking God to “fill the church” with young people.
His dream, he added, is to see the parish become a “parish without boundaries.”
As a footnote: it was interesting to see the diocesan newspaper referring to the deacon and his wife making this ministry the focus of “their diaconate.”