CELEBRATION | If you think young people are no longer interested in pursuing holiness, think again. There is a group of 18 to 21-year olds at Corpus Christi Parish who are trying to live faithfully as authentic Catholics, while being witnesses in the world.
“1821: Saints Becoming” gathers at the church in Celebration and is headed by Sonny Soi and Scott Balasia. “We started the group in September, and it’s been awesome to see these teens/young adults grow in their faith,” said Balasia. The idea came to him last year when his oldest daughter, Maddie, was a senior. “Our young adult group starts at age 21, so God kept tugging on my heart as I thought of how Maddie could connect with the Church after she graduated out of youth group. I knew there had to be others in our church who were in the same situation.” He approached his parish community and shared what God put on his heart and “the support was absolutely amazing,” he said.
“The group has helped me by having people who I can lean on during this weird spot in my life,” acknowledged Maddie. “I decided to take a gap year to figure out what I wanted to do and save money. I was able to accomplish those things, but it was weird with my friends moving and going to college. Even if they stayed, they have different schedules than I do. It was amazing having those people to be able to lean on, as well as growing closer to God in a new way! I can truly say my faith has never been stronger.”
The “saints” meet weekly for prayer, games, Scripture study and discussion. Currently they are reading the Gospel of John. “We also discuss and learn about saints, and challenge each other to become more like the saints,” Balasia noted. They do this through videos, Eucharistic Adoration, and serving at the nearby Windsor Retirement Community. Youth Minister Beth VanDorpe and Balasia are also trying to “build a bridge” between the youth and young adults with joint community projects.
Jason Pickering recently joined the group after moving from another state. “I’m a bit of an introvert, but this group has showed me I’m never truly alone physically and spiritually… I’m so grateful that I went and got to meet such kind people.”
Aurora Charland agrees and strongly believes this group facilitates ongoing growth. “I have greatly enjoyed being a part of Corpus Christi’s young adult group. So many Catholics in this age range struggle to continue living in their faith, which can be made even more difficult if they feel disconnected from their church community. Saints Becoming has offered a very welcoming environment for myself and my friends to learn more about Catholicism and grow in our faith.”
Contemporary Mass band member Dylan Dupree says the group has led him to be bolder in his proclamation of the Good News. “Saints Becoming has encouraged and inspired me to write more songs and to go out and evangelize. This group has been so supportive and encouraging in my passion and stand for the message ‘you belong’, which we use to connect everyone together through our music.”
Others like Anthony Genereux find the subjects for discussion stimulating and engaging. “The group has always brought me closer to God; we have many conversations about the faith that help me think more in-depth because everyone sees things a bit differently,” Genereux said. “The different viewpoints lead to great conversation, which help build up your faith.” He added, “The group has acted as a reminder of what your goals need to be focused on—not the worldly goals a lot of people today aim for, but for Eternal Salvation with Jesus Christ.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic March 11, 2020