October 4, 2016 // Local

Elkhart County parishes join forces for young adult ministry

Lauren Cox is one of the founders of the group, whose leadership team hopes other young adults from across the county will join in on their faith formation and community-building events.

By Phoebe Muthart

A new discipleship group has been formed that aims to build community among young adult Catholics in Elkhart County.

Lauren Cox was instrumental in getting the group, which goes by the name of Elkhart Area Catholic Young Adults, started. She attends St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Elkhart, and is new to the faith, having been confirmed at the Easter Vigil in 2015.

After her conversion, Cox become involved in a South Bend-area young adult ministry organized by Sean Allen, director of young adult ministry in the South Bend area for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Allen expressed an interest in initiating a similar group in her area, she said, and assembled a leadership team to help lay the groundwork.

“My own action plan is to help develop the young adult group (here) by planning events, meeting young adults and walking alongside them in their journey to intentional discipleship,” Cox then wrote a letter to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades four months ago, detailing her intention to give the idea of a county-wide ministry for her age group serious attention and asking for his blessing on the initiative. That letter was prompted by the fact that she was also one of 300 women selected to attend the Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, Given, June 7-12 in Washington, D.C. The experience convicted her to participate in the Church’s New Evangelization initiative.

Elkhart Area Catholic Young Adults, a new discipleship group, gathered at Fruit Hills Winery and Orchard in Bristol during the summer.

Since then, a leadership group composed of representatives from each Elkhart County parish has been meeting and studying the Bible weekly: In addition to Cox, they are Jhannah de Castro, Heather DeLucenay, Nick Lochmandy, Daisy Rios, Aileen Hurd and Sam Romero.

“This hasn’t been just me; it’s been a whole group effort,” Cox stressed. “It’s still a work in progress as we continue to meet young adults in the area.”

During the summer the group planned several fun activities to build community, including a get-together at a local winery. Bible study also happens weekly, at St. Vincent’s.

Another of the group’s leadership team, DeLucenay, attends St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Elkhart. She was very active in campus ministry and had a strong faith-based community when she was in college, she said. After graduation, she moved back home and was looking for a peer-based faith-sharing group.

“My Catholic faith is the center of my life, and I was looking for a community where I could grow in my faith with people around my age. I asked my priest if there was a young adult group. At that time, there was no young adult group in the Elkhart area of the diocese. He (the priest) asked if I could start one. That’s when I got in contact with Sean Allen.

“The Young Adult Group has been wonderful. I have met and become close friends with the members. I especially like our Wednesday night Lectio Divina. It allows me to go deeper into the Sunday readings and see different points of view. But mostly I like the support we give each other,” said DeLucenay.

She added: “We are all trying to live out our faith in our daily lives, which is sometimes easier said then done.”

To get involved with the group, contact Cox at [email protected], or DeLucenay at  [email protected]; or visit the Facebook page Facebook/Elkhart Area Catholic Young Adults.

Jodi Marlin contributed to this story.


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