Want to become excited about the next generation of Church laity? Want a shot of optimism about how the corporate world will operate in the future? Are you a Millennial and want to get involved with one of the most exciting endeavors of the New Evangelization? All you have to do, then, is join up with the Young Catholic Professionals!
Founded in 2010 in Dallas, TX, Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) has rapidly spread across the country, filling a void felt by thousands of millennials in the workplace. Those young adults and future leaders are searching for more than just their way in the corporate world. They also battle profound needs for a sense of community, identity and meaning in their lives.
Jennifer Baugh, the group’s visionary foundress, was motivated after earning her MBA to provide the answers for those common needs. In just six short years she and her team have developed a network that can change the entire landscape for Catholic Millennials!
I had the great pleasure of working with Miss Baugh and several other members of YCP this year, while preparing for and speaking at two different YCP functions. I also was able to attend their national Gala, held this year in Houston. Rubbing elbows with YCP members from across the country, you could not ignore the palpable excitement in the Westin Galleria that evening.
Even though today there are fourteen chapters up and running, (find a YCP Chapter near you!) with preparations underway to launch YCP New Orleans and YCP Detroit, it was announced at the Gala that dozens of other cities are eagerly waiting their turn! One got the sense that YCP is truly just starting to lift-off (click here to see the video).
Approximately eight more cities are on the docket for next year, bringing YCP to twenty-three chapters strong by the end of 2017. Young people from over 65 cities have reached out expressing interest, as far away as Canada, Spain and Poland, where this year’s World Youth Day took place.
YCP indeed seems to be an anointed apostolate, a turbo-charged mixture of youth and the Holy Spirit. To the thousands of young, working Catholics that YCP already serves, Miss Baugh stands as a constant reminder of how readily available God is to assist those who simply say “yes” to his call.
During one of our conversations, she shared what that “Yes” was like, back in 2009. “Because of the time I spent nourished by prayer, silence and by the liturgy, I truly felt that I had found the particular vocation God had for me.” She continued, readily sharing quotes to accent her story, “These words from Pope Benedict XVI perfectly describe what it was like.”
“What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ’s disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
She summed it up with, “I wanted to tell people about the truth which set me free!”
But saying “yes” required setting herself free from her current path, meant a lot of work, and took a lot of guts. She had to say “no” to a lucrative job in consulting.
“…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)
“It’s hard to describe what that time was like for me. I was weak and strong all at once! I was unsure and sure at the same time. It was a time full of soul-searching and prayer. Ultimately, God’s grace and mercy were bigger than any of my fears. His love and the incredible need for the ministry were enough to help me take the leap. To this day, I feel indescribably blessed that He chose me to be the catalyst for this beautiful adventure.”
“I really felt (for the first time in my life) that my unique talents and passions had perfectly aligned for this purpose. It was really tough to quit my job because I had no source of income lined up. Thankfully, one of my managers turned out to be a Christian, and he worked on my behalf in order to allow me to keep my signing bonus even though I hadn’t been at the consulting firm for a full year. This was huge, because I was able to give my time to YCP without worrying if I would flounder financially. My parents supported YCP with some seed money, and I put some of my savings into the initial events and setup of the non-profit corporation. I waitressed at a local restaurant for the 1st 6 months of YCP’s life to give my day some structure and make some side cash. It was 6 months into waitressing that I met our first investor enabling me to quit as a waitress and devote all my hours to YCP.”
When I asked Jennifer about the name, Young Catholic Professionals, she was quick to giver her brother the credit. “I wanted the ministry to counter the trend of secular young professionals organizations that attracted so many people. There are tons of groups like Young Finance Professionals, Young Professionals in Energy, etc. My brother, Alex, said to me, ”Jenn, don’t overcomplicate it. Call it Young Catholic Professionals!”
“Looking back, it’s the perfect name because each of the three words tells us something about who we are. The professional aspect is important because it reminds us to work for a higher standard of virtue. Every single person in every single profession is called to perform their work well for the glory of God. You don’t have to be a traditional “professional” to be challenged to greater “professionalism” in your daily life for Christ.”
“Many of the Holy Spirit’s inspirations as noted in my original business plan (drafted before YCP began) have come to fruition, by God’s grace. There are also differences, but the important thing is that the organization today remains faithful to the original mission that God inspired. My prayer is that YCP can always maintain its unique balance of being a ministry that is inviting, welcoming, and open while also being challenging, daring, and courageous. We call young professionals to a higher standard of virtue, and we do it in a way that meets young people where they are at in the faith journey. As an apostolate, we will never be satisfied to be average because the Church depends on us to change the world and set hearts on fire for the Kingdom.”
If you are ready to participate in YCP’s three pillars, fostering Catholic identity, encouraging community and inspiring action, check out the group’s web site, YoungCatholicProfessionals.org,
or write to them at [email protected]
As for the future that YCP is fearlessly pursuing, Jenn is both focused on tasks at hand, as well as remaining open to the Holy Spirit’s continued guidance.
“We hope to do whatever God asks of us for as long as He asks. I hope that we can help to change the tide of secularism and relativism and that we can build an army of young Catholics across the nation and world who have the tools and conviction to witness to their Faith – even when it will cost them a great deal. I hope in 50 years, God will once again be invited into the public square. I pray that in 50 years, young Catholics will have started their own companies and employed workers using their Catholic values as their guiding post. I pray that our YCP members will have holy Catholic marriages and have raised many priests and religious! I pray that our members will have evangelized effectively bringing more people into the fold.”
“Of course, we have plans and ideas regarding how YCP will actually accomplish these things. We need significant funding and a lot of support to keep fighting like we are. This is going to require a team effort, but I am convinced that our generation will be the one to change the tide for Christ.”
Copyright 2016 John Connell. This article was originally published at JohnConnell.com and is reprinted here with permission.