By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – In a proactive response to the growing demand for more opportunities for young adults, the Diocese of Jackson inaugurated its Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry in the fall of 2022. With this new office, the diocese is on a mission to build a vibrant and inclusive ministry that not only brings young adults and college students together but also strengthens their relationship with Christ.
In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation released in April 2019, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive!), Pope Francis emphasized the need to make all institutions more welcoming to young people, and his words resonated deeply with the mission of the Diocese of Jackson. “We need to make all our institutions better equipped to be more welcoming to young people,” said Pope Francis from Christus Vivit. (216)
Amelia Rizor, coordinator for the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry, echoed the sentiment expressed by Pope Francis, stating, “The community has an important role in the accompaniment of young people; it should feel collectively responsible for accepting, motivating, encouraging and challenging them. All should regard young people with understanding, appreciation and affections; and avoid constantly judging them.”
The office’s efforts in the Jackson area have already shown promise. Rizor has organized activities such as basketball, co-ed softball, and co-ed kickball, which have provided opportunities for young adults to come together for fellowship and build relationships. Additionally, the office also reintroduced “Theology on Tap,” a popular event that engages young adults in discussions of faith in a relaxed setting, with a beverage of choice.
However, the office’s focus isn’t just limited to social events, said Rizor. She highlights the importance of growing young people’s spiritual lives, mentioning an upcoming “Young Adult Advent Day of Reflection” on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Camp Bratton Green in Canton, with diocese director of Faith Formation, Fran Lavelle.
Rizor also expressed her desire to create more service opportunities that can be conducted diocesan-wide, allowing young adults to put their faith into action.
Future plans for service include a spring break service trip to Southern Kentucky, with the aim of assisting those affected by the devastating tornadoes in December 2021.
The Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry also recently hosted its first campus ministry retreat on Oct. 14 at Locus Benedictus in Greenwood. The event brought together students from various colleges and universities across the diocese for fellowship, participation in small groups, and the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Mass.
Excitingly, the office is offering a 10-day trip on the Camino de Santiago – an opportunity to travel in the footsteps of St. James, led by Father Lincoln Dall. The St. James Way is one of the most ancient and popular pilgrimage routes in the world. The trip can accommodate only 13 pilgrims total and spots are filling up quickly. Rizor says the trip is open to all young adults who will be sophomores in college in fall 2024 through age 35.
Rizor emphasized the importance of actively engaging young adults in these initiatives, saying “Everyone likes to be invited! If you are waiting around for them to just come back, you’re going to be waiting a long time.” She urged the necessity of going out and building relationships with young adults, inviting them to be a part of the Body of Christ, much like the approach taken by Jesus himself.
In the Diocese of Jackson, the launch of this young adult ministry is not only about building a community but also about revitalizing the faith and involvement of the younger generation in the church’s mission, ensuring that they are an integral part of the church’s body. Pope Francis’ vision, as articulated in Christus Vivit, is a guiding light for this important mission.
“We are incredibly blessed to have someone with Amelia’s ministry experience and her love for the young church,” said Fran Lavelle, director of the Department of Faith Formation for the diocese.
“Her strength is in building relationships that lead people to a deeper understanding of their faith. She demonstrates what accompaniment looks like in practice.”
For more information on upcoming young adult ministry events, visit https://jacksondiocese.org/young-adult-campus-ministry or contact Amelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.