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What's driving a youth movement in Miami churches? Not just prayer -- but 'action'

Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in Religious News

Until last August, she hadn’t gone to church in 20 years. Then, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, something changed.

“You go through suffering, and you go through moments of hardship, and then you realize that God is calling you,” Warsaw said. “And you know, in times of suffering, you can make a decision. You either move towards God or you move away from God. Thankfully, with God’s help … I felt that calling to come back to church.”

Now she hopes to instill the tradition of going to Mass in her children, too.

“The church, and all of the things that you learn here, it’s almost like a manual to help you raise your kids,” Warsaw said. “I feel like now I can raise my kids right by teaching them these values.”

The four hours of food packaging was done through a $13,200 grant Cross Catholic Outreach got from Coca-Cola Consolidated, and surpassed its 40,000 goal, packaging 40,608 meals. The event brought families and students from different schools together. Students in Christopher Columbus High School uniforms carried boxes. Elementary school students helped Mom. And college students and recent grads were there, like Giselle De La Rua, decked out in hairnets, gloves and aprons.

The 22-year-old UM alumna got involved in St. Augustine’s parish while she was a UM student and is now part of the church’s young adult group, which is separate from UM’s Catholic campus ministry. She said St. Augustine’s vibrant young adult community even “weighed” into her decision on whether she should stay in Miami for medical school or go back home to West Palm Beach.

 

How does St. Augustine attract so many of Miami’s Catholic young adults?

While its proximity to UM certainly helps — the church is next door — Vigoa says it comes down to “its ministry of presence” both on UM’s campus and in the community. Another big factor is the variety of young adult-focused activities it offers, including Bible studies, and popular socials like Theology on Tap, where people can talk about faith while throwing back a cold one. Then there’s good old-fashioned word of mouth.

“It’s peer to peer ministry, it’s coming together, it’s praying together, worshiping together, that’s what’s most successful,” he said.

An invitation from a friend is how Florida International University student and St. Louis Catholic Church parishioner Adam Kurz, 19, found himself packing boxes at St. Augustine.

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