The Annual Catholic Appeal provides hope and joy throughout the archdiocese by funding dozens of important ministries.
includes Catholic education, programs helping homeless people and
others in need, support for marriage, Newman centers on college
campuses, efforts to respect life, criminal justice work and much more.
Your Story” is the theme of this year’s appeal — highlighting how every
story of life and faith contributes to who we are as a Church and
reveals Christ Himself to the world.
Kristen DeLaune and
Olivia Jakubicek greeted friends as they arrived at Theology on Tap at
the Kirkwood Station Brewing Company in Kirkwood. They sat at a long,
solid-wood table and sipped craft beer. After the waitress brought their
meals — cheese quesadilla with chips and salsa for Olivia and a loaded
burger and fries for Kristen — they made a sign of the cross and prayed
for God’s blessing upon themselves and their meal.
nursing student at Saint Louis University dressed in scrubs, talked about a
recent retreat. The conversation turned to Lent. Olivia said she hoped
to frequent the sacraments more and give up coffee. Kristen said she
wanted to add a new dimension to her prayer life — meditating on the
Passion more dynamically.
A native of New Orleans, Kristen
appreciates being with a large Catholic community of young adults at the
program sponsored by the Young Adult Ministry of the archdiocese. “It’s
just great people, a lot of great topics to talk about that we don’t
get chance to hear about otherwise,” she said. “I just love the casual
feel about it, too. Spending time together in adoration and Mass is
amazing without a doubt, but this involves forming those relationships
on another level.”
The Young Adult Ministry programs allow her to
delve into a conversation about an important spiritual topic. “It’s just
a comfortable feel for someone who loves being Catholic and loves
growing in their faith,” Kristen said.
Funding from the Annual
Catholic Appeal allows the ministry to sponsor events such as the
social-and-faith-building Theology on Tap as well as small group
gatherings, pilgrimages, service work and more.
Theology on Tap
fills a void for Olivia, a native of Cary, Ill., and occupational
therapy student at St. Louis University. “I didn’t grow up in an area
with a large Catholic community and I was blown away the first time I
came by all the awesome young adults here,” she said.
Olivia said, is the friendships she’s formed and “being surrounded by
so many people in love with and passionate about their Catholic faith.”
Bono and Jon Simmons sat at the other end of the table in the center of
the big, loud, dimly lit room flanked by a wooden bar extending half
the length of the room. A TV screen flashed news of upcoming events
sponsored by the ministry. Matt ate a burger and Jon had a roast beef
sandwich, each with fries and a draft beer. They also prayed before
their meal, with Matt adding, “Thank you for good friends and good
Theology on Tap.”
Matt’s been coming to programs of the Young
Adult Ministry for a few years now. The Florissant native and current
member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in south St. Louis noted the difficulty
post-college grads have in connecting with the Church, adding that
parishes are starting to provide more offerings for young adults. A
structural engineer who attended an engineering program at the
University of Missouri-St. Louis/Washington University and grad school
at MIT in Boston, he enjoys the ministry’s Discipulus Institute classes
for enhancing his understanding of Church teaching.
Jon, a public
affairs officer for the U.S. Air Force and member of the Cathedral
Basilica of St. Louis Parish, moved here from Charlotte, Va. He and Matt
are leaders of an Emmaus group for men pursuing a better faith life —
“going forward as a team toward the mark of the high calling of Christ,”
as he described it.
Theology on Tap is held the second Tuesday of
each month at 7 p.m. at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company, 105 E.
Jefferson Ave. in Kirkwood. It’s packed with participants who hang out
and listen to a talk relevant to young adults. In February, Auxiliary
Bishop Mark Rivituso talked about Lenten resolutions, asking the young
adults to focus on deepening their encounter with the Lord and becoming
more like Jesus. Lenten resolutions, he said, lead to a deeper
celebration of the joy of Easter.
Nick Lee, director of the
archdiocese’s Young Adult Ministry, said parishes have a history of
reaching out to young adults — his parents met at one at Sts. Peter and
Paul Parish in the Soulard neighborhood of south St. Louis — and the
archdiocese began a centralized office for the outreach in 2011 tailored
to people approximately ages 21-35. The Annual Catholic Appeal has been
a boost for its efforts and the work of the Catholic Youth Apostolate,
which oversees it. Two full-time staff members collaborate with
parishes, develop young adult leaders, support young adult groups within
the archdiocese and organize events.
It’s grown from 25 people at
the first event to events now — Theology on Tap with 350 people and the
Encounter conference with 550 people. They now have a list with 2,000
young adults who receive a weekly emails about ministry events and
happenings in the parishes and archdiocese.
Nick seeks to offer events that are catechetical but also communal, so participants “meet people and form a community.”
adults are at a stage where they make their most important life
decisions, Nick said, including marriage, a call to a vocation, careers
and more. “The Church needs to be in the lives of young adults during
this stage. It is a crossroads,” he said.
The longer young adults
are away from the Church, the less likely they’ll come back to the
Church as they enter new phases of their life, Nick said. “They may
become less engaged in their faith in their college years, then they may
not plant their roots until their late 20s or early to mid 30s. If
regular worship and interaction with the Church isn’t present for seven
(or more) years, it’s not likely they’re going to make it a regular
practice once they begin to set those roots.”
On a weekday afternoon, more than a dozen people gathered at the St. Charles Lwanga Center
in north St. Louis to discuss
the Book of Tobit and how it applies to the present. They discussed how
Anna, wife of Tobit, didn’t want her son to leave when he is sent on a
journey by his father.
“As a ‘praying mother,’ you have to have
faith when you have children. You go through so much,” Faye Combs said.
“My motto is: Keep praying.”
Several others cited their strengths,
doubts, the need for patience and holding onto faith. They explored the
concept of evil, the despair that some young people feel and more.
Art Cavitt, director of the Lwanga Center and pastor of St. Nicholas
Parish in St. Louis, explained how the Bible stories show God is with
people on their journey, how to still have faith when facing uncertainty
and how prayer is important.
The mission of the St. Charles
Lwanga Center, which receives funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal
and is sponsored by nine parishes, is to promote Catholic teaching,
Catholic spiritual formation and leadership development, including
advocacy for justice and racial equity concerns within the black
Catholic community and for all who collaborate with them. The most
recent session of the Bible study began in September and continued for
18 Wednesdays. There is no fee for classes, but free-will offerings to
the center are welcome.
Brunetta Douglas of St. Elizabeth Mother
of John the Baptist Parish in north St. Louis has a simple explanation
for why she enjoys the Bible study. “It’s a good feeling,” Douglas said.
Cooper of St. Monica Parish in Creve Coeur pointed to the Bible he
brought to class. It’s the first Bible he’s owned. The class enhances
Cooper’s understanding of Scripture because participants discuss it and
Father Cavitt clarifies points as needed.
“It has a lot to do with day-to-day life,” Cooper said. “There’s always a lesson and truth manifested in Scripture.”
Joan Lane of St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist Parish, the class
“reinforces my faith. I see a lot of examples of what the Bible is
teaching. The main thing is that I want to be a better person.”
Feeling at home
Happy Aboflan, a native of Togo, was helped by St. Pius V Parish in south St. Louis and for
the past 10 years has volunteered with the Immigrant and Refugee
Ministry at the parish. The ministry welcomes, assists and advocates for
refugees and immigrants who are settling in the neighborhoods around
the parish and elsewhere. It receives funding from the Annual Catholic
Aboflan speaks English and French, which helps communicate with the refugees and immigrants.
Without the parish’s help, she said, she wouldn’t be in such a good place in her life now.
“We all have a place that we came from,” she said. “There was something
happening in our home country, and that’s why they were exiled or
migrate here, you know? I don’t see anyone who wanted to leave their
country and go to another country. I miss my country. … . We are not
criminals, we are not drug people. We are people who want to live in the
United States in peace. That’s the only thing we want.”
helps immigrants and refugees after other resettlement efforts have
ended. “They send them to us,” Aboflan said. “We help them until they
have a job. We are like the second hand of the resettlement.”
greeter and extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at the parish,
Aboflan also volunteers at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul food
pantry at St. Pius, which serves people in need throughout the parish.
How to donate
The financial goal of the 2018 Annual Catholic
Appeal is $14.2 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised
goes back into the community in the form of direct services.
To learn more about the appeal or to make a donation, visit www.archstl.org/aca or call 314.792.7680.
Reaching young adults
The Young Adult Ministry of the archdiocese has several areas of outreach. Included are:
Emmaus groups are small faith-sharing communities with leaders trained
to lead Bible studies. About 25 of these groups operate within the
• Monthly service opportunities are available at
Peter and Paul Community Services homeless shelter and at Our Lady’s
Inn, which provides housing, job training, health care and more to
pregnant women who are struggling with homelessness. Every August they
assist at an elegant dinner for poor and homeless people that is served
to commemorate the Feast of St. Louis IX.
• Other activities include retreats, in-depth courses on faith and recreational sports.
A transition of the ministry involves efforts to help parishes plan young adult initiatives.