Continuing the Faith

Dec. 9-15, 2004
Continuing the Faith
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
St. John the Baptist’s Young Adults Group Developing it’s Christian Life

Rome — Father Gregory Golyzniak, parochial vicar of St. John the Baptist Church, initiated a young adults group last June. He started the group because he noticed that the young adults in the parish didn’t have a social organization of their own. He visited every parish in Rome with his idea of starting the group. “We should be focusing on parishioners in this age range,” said Father John Hogan, pastor of St. John the Baptist. He explained that the young adult age group sometimes falls through the cracks. The parish offers activities for elementary students, high school students and families, but the young adult parishioners are left out of activities. Father Golyzniak is moderator of the young adults group. This group is made up of young adults who are in college, students who are working and young couples. It includes all those who are trying to develop their Christian life through social work, charity work, sports, Christian studies and church activities. Based on the principles of faith, sport and friendship, the group attempts to steer their energy toward Christian service through personal interaction and acting as a church community. Activities include playing sports, evenings of entertainment such as films, games and discussions on a variety of topics.

On Oct. 29, the church hosted a presentation by TV reporter Donna Adamo from the WTVH Channel Five News station. She talked to the group about the power and value of volunteering. Oneida County Executive Joe Griffo has been scheduled to speak at the group’s next meeting on Nov. 19. The young adults also participate in faith building activities such as visits to the sick, discussions and retreats. The members have an opportunity to interact with others through activities such as attending movies, hiking and travelling. The members recently visited Old Forge and this summer visited Oswego Harborfest. One of Father Golyzniak’s goals is to take the group to the World Youth Day, which will be held in Cologne, Germany in August 2005. Members of the group are trying to prepare themselves financially and spiritually for the journey. World Youth Day is a gathering of Catholic young adults, 16 to 35 years old, held approximately every two years, from over 150 countries to come together to share their experience with the world. It is characterized by the happiness of the youth being with the pope and with each other. Participants gather for prayer, concerts and music festivals, drama and dance, volunteer service projects, discussion groups and cultural exchange. Included also, are two significant liturgies with the Holy Father: a pilgrimage of the cross, and an all-night vigil of music and prayer that concludes with a papal Mass on Sunday morning with over one million people in attendance.

Participants will meet other youth that share the same faith and take part in social service projects, such as helping the sick and homeless, when they are staying in locations across Cologne. Activities include sessions about the Catholic faith as well as participation in the sacraments of holy Eucharist and confession. The World Youth Day They began in 1984 in Rome through the initiative of Pope John Paul II. Every year since then, World Youth Day has been celebrated. It alternates annually between local and international celebrations. The local celebrations are held in every church on Palm Sunday, one week before Easter Sunday. Every other year, there is a large international gathering of young people at different places throughout the world. Past World Youth Days have taken place in Rome ( Italy) 1984; Buenos Aires (Argentina) 1987; Santiago de Compostela (Spain) 1989; Czestochowa (Poland), 1991; Denver (U.S.A.) 1993; Manilla (Philippines), 1995; Paris (France) 1997; Rome (Italy) 2000; Toronto (Canada) 2002.

During the Jubilee of the Redemption in 1984, Pope John Paul II entrusted a simple cross consisting of two crossed planks of wood to the young people of the world to carry as a symbol of their faith. This cross now serves as the symbol of World Youth Day. Like the young people who attend World Youth Day, the cross travels around the world and appeals to them to deepen their faith and live it more sincerely. Past World Youth Days have frequently brought together over one million youth and the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants have shown extraordinary consideration for each other and for the people of the country they are visiting. If anything, participants have made a contribution to host countries through their happiness and the various social service activities they have carried out. The young adults group meets monthly and has grown to 12 members. Father Golyzniak is hopeful that more parishioners will join the group. “It’s tough — they are busy. I don’t want to give up on the idea of the young adults group,” said Father Golyzniak. Emily Boardman became a member of the young adults group after reading a notice about the group that was attached to the church door. She thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other young Catholics. Boardman enjoys participating in bowling, discussions and developing new friendships. She especially enjoyed Donna Adamo’s presentation when she visited the group a few weeks ago. “She seemed to really connect with the audience,” said Boardman. She is looking forward to attending the World Youth Day in August. “It’s a great opportunity and I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” she said.

Member Glenn Deptola joined the group after hearing about it from Father Mark Pasik of Transfiguration Church in Rome. He enjoys all the activities that the group offers. His most memorable experience was travelling with the group to the Oswego Harborfest. “The fireworks were great,” said Deptola. Concetta Griffo became a member after graduating from high school. “I joined the group to help keep me involved with God and church,” said Griffo. Right before joining, she talked with Father John Hogan about setting up a coffeehouse in the church. Griffo wanted to get people to feel like they were part of the community and get them more involved. She enjoys meeting new people and participating in the activities of the group. Griffo especially enjoys bowling with Father Golyzniak. “He makes us all laugh. He loves to see people happy and having a good time. He’s an awesome priest!” said Griffo. She has dreamed of attending World Youth Day. Griffo feels energized when she thinks about meeting the pope. “My faith grows even more when I think about all the awesome things I’m going to see and experience,” said Griffo. St. John the Baptist’s young adults group is working as a church community through personal interaction as they direct their energy toward Christian service.

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