The 21st Anniversary of Jesuit Young Adult Ministries

May 29, 2024

On Sunday 12th May The Church of the Immaculate Conception witnessed a special Mass to mark the 21st Anniversary of Young Adult Ministries, colloquially known as 'YAM'.

Blog by Carl Welch who has been regularly attending YAM events since 2018

No, not a starchy tuber, but the Young Adult Mass. YAM is a ministry which aims to carve out a space in a secular world for Catholics between the ages of 18-35 to engage with other young Catholics. For those of us from London, we had perhaps come from home parishes with very few young people - which is, amongst other things, not conducive to finding a Catholic spouse who lives out their faith, or to staying grounded in a city with many distractions -, and for those of us who are new to London, either from other parts of the UK, or from other parts of the world in London for study or for work it provides a home from home.

The Young Adult Mass was the brainchild of Fr. David Stewart SJ along with some gentle encouragement from John O’Sullivan, a young Catholic who had been attending masses at Farm Street. The ministry continued under the direction of Sr.Anouska Robinson-Biggin FCJ, and recently the ministry has variously been ministered to by Fr. Jim Conway SJ, Fr. Dushan Croos SJ and Fr. Kensy Joseph SJ, along with help from Ruth Holgate, Shona Cahill, Harry Cooper and Carlos Chuquihuara SJ.

During the pandemic the ministry increased its reach with a host of online events providing valuable socialization opportunities for young people from London and beyond who were lonely and separated from their families. In the years since, this growth has continued and now around 150 18-35 year olds attend the weekly YAM Mass.

In addition to the weekly Mass there are other regular activities, such as, monthly walks, an online Rosary group, a Thursday evening talk or film, and more focused sessions on the first Saturday of each month which have delved into topics such as Catholic Social Teaching, Laudato Si, or the major documents of Vatican II. There have also been regular holidays to the Jesuit villa in Barmouth on the mid-Wales coast, as well as trips to Rome following in the footsteps of St. Ignatius.

The anniversary Mass itself was presided over by Father Provincial, Peter Gallagher SJ, with Fr. Dominic Robertson SJ co-celebrating and Fr. Dushan Croos SJ, preaching. In his homily Fr Croos, a previous chaplain to the YAM Ministry, challenged the young adults present to look beyond the mere community and fellowship which YAM engenders, important though they are, and rather to make sure that as the Gospel [Mark 6:15-20] instructs us, we are to go out into the world and represent our faith, being men and women for others.

There had been a picnic in Mount Street Gardens in the afternoon for some of the old guard who now have baby pre-YAMmer’s in tow to reminisce and catch-up. After the Mass there was a party to celebrate in the Arrupe Hall with enough bubbly to launch a thousand ships, and enough home made cakes to sink them. Special mention should go to Christian Duhay who produced a wonderfully emotive video [linked below] which highlighted the very heart of the ministry, with testimony for many of our young adults, and which featured a specially penned song based on the words of the Young Adult Prayer with vocals by Maddie Groves. The words to the Young Adult Prayer, a feature of YAM masses since the very early days, can be found below:

The Young Adult Prayer

In the noise of the city bring us peace.

When things don’t make sense, give us meaning. When we’ve lost our way, point us in the right direction.

When it’s tough to be Christian, shine your light in our lives. When we’re alone, give us courage to make friends.

When careers take over, help bring perspective to our lives. When we meet injustice, inspire us to do what we should.

When life is full, help us focus on what’s important. When love is difficult, break our hearts of stone.

When we ask, give us hearts for love alone. We ask this, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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