Summer Busy for Boston’s Young Adult Ministry

Maria Hayes Around the Province


Members of the 20s/30s group at St. Anthony Shrine enjoy a potluck picnic with other Catholic young adults in the Boston area. (Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy)

BOSTON — A season known for relaxing and vacations has not slowed down the 20- and 30-somethings of St. Anthony Shrine. Over the last two months, the young adults of the shrine on Arch Street have welcomed a new leader and have been involved with a variety of programs involving prayer, service and socializing.

The summer’s programs have been coordinated by the group’s new director, Erin Murphy. A graduate of Boston University and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Murphy also serves on the Province’s Young Adult Ministry Committee.

The 20s/30s group started July by volunteering on the cheer team for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. During this service-oriented activity, the group cheered on walkers and joggers as they walked 39.3 miles around the city of Boston.

“Although it was a rainy day, nothing could dampen the spirit of the young adult group at St. Anthony Shrine,” said Murphy.

The next week, the group gathered with another young adult group for a potluck picnic. Both groups enjoyed the food and fellowship on a beautiful, warm summer day, and look forward to many more joint events.

More recently, the 20s/30s group hosted Sundae Sunday, a make-your-own ice cream sundae event during which members could meet new friends, as well as the friars. Br. Fandry Sosa, OFM, a visiting friar from Puerto Rico, and Fr. Damian Park, OFM, one of the Shrine’s friars-in-residence, joined the young adults for conversation and ice cream.

One of the highlights of the summer was the Saturday Summer Retreat and Prayer Service.

“The Saturday Summer Retreat was a prayerful day which started with a wonderful introduction and overview of Franciscan values, the life of Saints Francis and Clare, and the tradition of St. Anthony’s bread by Fr. Joe Quinn, OFM,” Murphy said. “The group was very engaged and attentive throughout. Group members asked questions of Fr. Joe, and he very thoughtfully and thoroughly responded.”


Joe Quinn anoints a member of the YA ministry during the summer retreat. (Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy)

After a question-and-answer session, the group went to a local café for lunch with Br. Fandry, who is a young adult himself. The group then returned to the Shrine for a faith-sharing activity facilitated by Fr. Joe, Br. Fandry, Murphy, and the Shrine’s summer intern from the College of the Holy Cross, Jess Vozella.

“We read and discussed the weekend’s Gospel, shared our impressions of who God is and how that informs the way that we interpret the Gospel, and how we pray and we learned a few new ways to pray, including the Lectio Divina, the Examen, and Taize Prayer,” said Murphy.

The afternoon ended with a “breathtaking prayer service led by Fr. Joe and assisted by Br. Fandry in the friary chapel,” said Murphy. “The beauty of this service, which included prayer, candlelight meditation, and song, moved many of us to tears. Before we ended the service, Fr. Joe anointed all of us individually to go out and proclaim the Word, and Br. Fandry presented us with Tau crosses. One of our attendees noted that in all of the many retreats that he has been on, this was the best.”

Recently, the young adult ministry hosted two local parishes for Mass on the Boston Common, with Barry Langley, OFM, presiding and giving an insightful homily, according to Murphy. “Young adult members volunteered as Eucharistic ministers and readers, and it was truly a community event,” she said. “After Mass, we played lawn games, shared conversation, and enjoyed a potluck picnic.”

The young adult ministry has many more events planned for the fall, including a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, lectures on “Laudato Si’” and transgenderism, and a Monster Mash Costume Bash for all current and previous members of the group.

“We are focused on building this community within the Shrine, as it is an important demographic for our future success,” said Julie Ogden, managing director of the Shrine. “Erin is doing is a stellar job with programming and rebuilding this group.”

The previous director of the 20s/30s ministry is John Aherne, OFM, who was stationed at St. Anthony Shrine until June when he finished a yearlong internship.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province and a member of the HNP Young Adult Ministry Committee.

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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