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Shrine’s 20s/30s Program Offers Fun, Learning, Spirituality

St. Anthony Shrine’s young adult ministry (Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy)

BOSTON — Blessed by continued friar support, St. Anthony Shrine’s young adult ministry continues to be active. The participants of this vibrant group – officially called 20s/30s Boston – have enjoyed a variety of activities through the fall and winter and have started 2017 by focusing on Franciscan spirituality and making plans for movies, a book discussion and prayer.

A recent 40-year reunion of the Young Adults on Arch Street provided much inspiration. At the October gathering, I met with Kevin Cronin, OFM, the first director of this ministry. The reunion consisted of a Mass celebrated by Kevin, heartfelt moments of reflection, sharing of pictures and the showing of a video, along with a reception. The group members from 1976 seemed very happy to know that the group is still in motion.

Earlier in the fall, members of the current group journeyed through the start of the season by taking advantage of ever-decreasing warmth and participating in the Boston Heart Walk, exploring the city through the Boston Public Library’s Arts and Architecture Tour, going apple-picking and enjoying outdoor dining.

During October, the ministry celebrated the month of the rosary with an engaging workshop facilitated by Ronald Stark, OFM. This program included the origins of the rosary, a how-to, and an overview of the different kinds of beads used in Catholicism and in other faiths. At the end of the workshop, participants were given a guidebook along with a blessed rosary. This was a successful event which created an interest in starting a rosary prayer group for young adults at the Shrine.

Later that month, Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, director of the Shrine’s counseling center, provided the group with a presentation on transgender life. He described the challenges that this population faces, as well as how we can best welcome our transgender brothers and sisters into community.

Sharing a meal and conversation with new friends is an activity that epitomizes the Franciscan charism. This is probably why dinner with the friars is one of our most popular events. Over a meal at the friary in November, the young adult ministry members were able to ask the friars about day-to-day life at the friary, discuss current events and, of course, faith. The approachability of the friars draws young adults to the Shrine.

Over the autumn months, because of a need and desire to have the presence of religious women in the group, the group developed a relationship with the Sisters of St. Joseph. Since then, a sister has been part of the minitry’s events at least once per month. They have also facilitated workshops, most recently, an Advent Reflection titled “Mary’s Journey: Drawing Inspiration from Her Faith, Trials and Courage.”

Kevin Cronin, who founded the 20s/30s group, with Erin Murphy, the current director (Photo courtesy of Erin)

In addition to the Advent reflection, December included a group outing to see the Boston Common tree lighting, a presentation by Daniel Murray, OFM, about avoiding holiday pitfalls, supporting the Arch Street Band at their annual Christmas concert, a group dinner at Fajita’s n Rita’s, a special concert at the cathedral which Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., attended, and a two-part election reflection with Gene Pistacchio, OFM.

The group celebrated the season with a wonderfully festive ugly Christmas sweater party, which was also attended by Br. Paul. Attendees enjoyed Christmas music and a potluck meal, sharing fellowship and a lot of laughs.

Every month, our group members get together for brunch-n-Bible study where we meet in a local café to discuss the Gospel of the week. The laid-back atmosphere of the café helps facilitate a comfortable environment for all to share their impressions and interpretation of the Gospel. The group does a beautiful job of supporting one another, and is very respectful of each other’s opinions, not only during Bible study but also during all of our discussions, some of which may include controversial or hot-button topics. Without doubt, this respectful, welcoming tone has been set by the friars of Arch Street.

2017 is already off to a great start. Recently, John “Mags” Maganzini, OFM, gave a presentation about Franciscan spirituality in the workplace and in our everyday lives. John also taught the group “how to find JOY – Just Open Yourself,” he said. The presentation was summed up by a group member who said, “I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

As our community grows and diversifies, we have been mirroring that with diverse programming, which will continue into this year. Members of the group can look forward to a movie and pizza with Barry Langley, OFM, a special 20s/30s Mass and reception, an evening of Taize Prayer with the Arch Street Band, a Lenten retreat facilitated by Steven Pavignano, OFM, which will include Stations of the Cross from a social justice lens, and a book club Skype session with Daniel Horan, OFM, after the ministry reads his latest book, God is Not Fair and Other Reasons for Gratitude. 

— Erin Murphy is director of the St. Anthony Shrine 20s/30s ministry.

Editor’s note: HNP Today welcomes updates from ministries around the Province about programs offered to young adults. Information about Young Adult Ministry events can be found in the HNP Young Adult Ministry Facebook group

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