COLUMBIA—Catholic young adults from the Midlands are taking a series of spiritual road trips this summer.
The Columbia Area Young Adult Catholics, known as the Columbia YACS for short, are traveling around the Carolinas and into Georgia to experience different Catholic liturgies during their Summer Liturgical Series.
On June 13, the group visited St. Ignatios of Antioch Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Augusta, Ga., attended a Mass and learned about the history and development of the Melkite rite.
On July 18, members plan to visit St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Greer to learn more about that rite and history.
Co-facilitator Matthew Butler said the group hopes to attend a traditional Latin Mass, and possibly other liturgies before the summer ends.
It’s all part of an ongoing mission to enrich the lives of young adult Catholics both spiritually and socially, Butler said.
He and fellow facilitator Zach Dorsch started Columbia YACS in 2008. Their central meeting spot is the St. Thomas More Center on the University of South Carolina campus, but events take place around the Midlands.
“We specifically wanted the group not to be attached to one parish,” Dorsch said. “Our intent was to reach out to young adults from 21-35, both married and single. We’re trying to fill a gap because there aren’t many activities offered specifically for this age group.”
Dorsch said they have everyone from college students to young professionals with average attendance ranging from 15 to 30 depending on the time of year. Some USC students stop attending Newman Club meetings as they get older, so YACS can appeal to them as a source of Catholic fellowship.
Father Marcin Zahuta, chaplain at St. Thomas More, is the group’s ecclesiastical advisor.
During the school year, they meet monthly at venues in the Five Points area to discuss a variety of topics, including vocations, the role of the laity, Catholicism and politics, and the sacraments. At a special session on matrimony, Dorsch said couples that had been married from eight to 40 years talked about the meaning of the sacrament.
Columbia YACS has embraced social networking and its Facebook page continues to attract new fans. People can learn more through their official website, www.imbibingthespirit.blogspot.com.
“The group is really about Catholic identity in my mind,” Butler said. “If you have a space where a peer group can get together and socialize, learn together, and grow spiritually, you’re encouraging the formation of Catholic identity because they’re learning what it means to be Catholic. To do that, we want to stimulate people intellectually, engage them socially, and feed them spiritually.”
Group worship is also an important element, including Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. On June 23, members took part in vespers and matins in honor of St. John the Baptist, held at St. Peter Church on Assembly Street. Father Zahuta also led vespers for about 13 people at St. Thomas More on July 7 with another service scheduled for July 21.
Greg Rockwell joined in August 2009 after moving to Columbia to serve with Home Works.
“I was looking for fellow young people who were Catholic, so we could all be Catholic together,” Rockwell said. “The fellowship of the group is the most important thing for me. It’s important to get to know other people who care about their faith as much as I do.”
Rockwell said he enjoys the worship opportunities and the monthly group discussions.
“It’s just really nice to be able to meet in a casual environment and talk about Catholicism,” he said.
Jackie Wiggins, 24, a member of Corpus Christi Church in Lexington, joined YACS after moving back to the Midlands from Tennessee in March.
“I wanted to find a community outlet for Catholics my age, and this is a good, balanced group,” she said. “It really helps to enhance my spirituality, there’s good catechesis at the meeting, and it’s also a good social outlet.”