Sean Durkin, 34, was interested in meeting face-to-face the young woman he had seen on a Catholic dating website. From her profile, he had learned that she attended Spirit and Truth sessions at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Lisle, Ill. According to literature from Spirit and Truth of Illinois, this is a Catholic Young Adult Eucharistic Adoration Community, where those who are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-nine gather once a week to hear a speaker, spend time in quiet, and enjoy fellowship with each other.
According to Vince Fernandez, 26, a regular attendee of Spirit and Truth, the ministry started in 2005 in Illinois. Before Spirit and Truth came to Illinois, it had its beginnings in Georgia. A young woman named Cory was living in Georgia with her parents. There she started this ministry for young adults centered on a practice called Eucharistic Adoration. Eucharistic Adoration occurs when worshipers spend time silently contemplating the body of Jesus Christ in the form of the transubstantiated communion bread. Originally from Illinois, Cory and her family moved back to the Chicago area where she joined St. Mary’s Parish in West Chicago.
“They actually started the ministry at my home parish and that’s how I got started with it … and that’s how we kind of grew and now there’s multiple groups,” Fernandez said.
“Adoration is intimidating to a lot of people and it seems very very Catholic … [it is] a time of quiet and silence in people’s very busy lives [and this is] extremely valuable and it’s something people need that they’re not even aware of,” said Chad Suhr, coordinator for Spirit and Truth in Lisle, Ill.
A Spirit and Truth session usually opens with an ice breaker for community members to get acquainted. Next a speaker talks for about forty minutes on a theological or devotional topic. This is followed by about forty-five minutes in Adoration, according to Suhr.
The group may at times include viewing of a video, for instance episodes from the Catholicism ten-part series hosted by Father Robert Barron on Public Television.
The mission of the Spirit and Truth community is to provide community, an environment where “strong friendships based on the faith can form,” said Suhr.
Even though the Spirit and Truth ministry is geared for young adults through the age of thirty-nine, some people who are older than a young adult age still stay involved within the community.
“We get an opportunity to grow together in community … even though we’re in Adoration and it’s completely silent … we have some sort of like a common prayer and that helps us grow in our community,” Fernandez said.
The Spirit and Truth ministry has not only a theological mission but also a practical, down-to-earth purpose. Attendee Dave Hahn, 43, attests to the value of Spirit and truth in his daily life.
“Spirit and Truth helps me in my daily life because it gives me a lot of hope to see other young adults who believe what I believe and worship the way that I worship,” said Hahn.
Spirit and Truth also helps Fernandez in his daily life. The ministry encourages him to attend “daily Mass everyday [and to] pray the Liturgy of the Hours,” said Fernandez.
On Friday, April 13, 2012, approximately 25 young adults gathered at St. Joan of Arc Parish for a three-hour session. The first hour began with an ice breaker activity. Seated in a circle, everyone said their name, where they were from, and their favorite Easter candy. A young seminarian then spoke on the topic of the Virgin Mary in Catholic Marian theology. In the second hour, the group transitioned to a small chapel for the Adoration portion of the evening.
“Tonight we [began Adoration with] Latin chants that we’re sort of learning but often times we’ll have more praise and worship music that people are … more familiar with,” Suhr said. Attendees knelt or sat during the silent moments of Adoration.
A third hour concluded the evening with announcements and fellowship. After Adoration, “we come back and mingle and usually we have food. It’s a good mix of community for young adult adults,” said Tom Mark, an attendee at the Lisle Spirit and Truth.
Spirit and Truth coordinator, Suhr, said, “I’m part of serving in terms of running it … Parish life for young adults can be difficult to feel connected … and so having a group like this allows people to connect with folks coming from the same station of life … and to encourage one another as they live their faith.”
Copyright 2014 Daniel Smrokowski
photo credit: porziuncola via photopin cc