CatholicYoungAdultGroups.org, the latest tool for evangelization from the Mary Foundation, went live during Holy Week 2022. The website is the first fully-interactive national directory of over eight hundred young adult groups in the United States and Canada. Using a zip code or address search, young Catholics in the working world can instantly find nearby groups or attend scheduled events. They can also search groups by categories such as social gatherings, service projects, Eucharistic adoration, retreats, sports, and special Masses. Local chapters of national groups such as Young Catholic Professionals, Theology on Tap, and Catholic Beer Club are also represented.
According to the Mary Foundation’s Director of Outreach, Anthony Mencini, who heads up the project, “Having friends in a community of believers is a basic human need. Many Catholics, even those who practice their faith, feel disconnected and are searching for meaning when they go out into the working world, even more so after the pandemic. We’re longing for real human connection and social media just leaves us feeling empty. Our new website addresses this need.”
“In my free time, I run a group for Catholic young adults with my best friend at a local parish. Our experience convinced us that authentic Christian friendship is the ultimate tool for evangelization. Real friendship in the real world changes lives. Socializing and praying together deepens our faith. That’s why we created CatholicYoungAdultGroups.org for the entire country. It works. In most larger cities, there is something to do and there are people to meet every night of the week.”
The new website is also a powerful resource for connecting young adult leaders. The Mary Foundation, whose benefactors have distributed over twenty million books, booklets, recordings, and prayer medals as tools for evangelization since 1991, began by investing in a pilot program to support young adult groups in the northeast Ohio area in early 2020. Mencini and his team were surprised to discover that local Catholic leaders (almost all volunteers) were typically unaware of the other groups or did not know the other leaders.
Because of the variety of platforms and social media used by these groups, search engines are typically useless for finding them. It took Mencini’s team of researchers several months to locate, evaluate, categorize, and upload the groups, events, and contact information into the map-based, relational database that powers CatholicYoungAdultsGroups.org.
Mencini emphasizes the important role relatives play in this initiative, “Parents and grandparents, you can be the most influential people in your children’s lives. Let them know about this website. Remember that the social events are a big draw, even if your children don’t practice their faith. They can find friends for life and become open to the sacraments. That’s what happened to me. Many people find out about these groups from a parent, uncle, aunt, or grandparent. In Patrick’s case, it was his mom. And although most groups don’t emphasize dating, there isn’t a more natural way to find a good Catholic spouse.”
The founder and president of the Mary Foundation, Bud Macfarlane, a bestselling Catholic novelist, emphasizes the potential of the new website. “This is what evangelical innovation is all about. As a father of four sons myself, every day I witness the immense challenges facing this generation of young Catholics. With CatholicYoungAdultGroups.org, in a matter of seconds, no matter where your child or grandchild lives in America, when they head out into a world that actively draws them away from the sacramental life, they can find like-minded Catholics and live their faith in a community that complements the parish system Our Lord designed.”
See full Press Release HERE