Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Local Chapter of Young Catholic Professionals Launches in Diocese with Mission of Building a Community of Faith

After more than a year of planning and development, the South Central PA Chapter of the Young Catholic Professionals officially commenced in the Diocese, introducing its mission of offering a community of support and belonging to Catholic professionals in their 20s and 30s.

The YCP Launch Party in the impressive atrium of the Keystone Building of the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg drew more than 200 attendees interested in learning about the ministry and its goal to equip young professionals with taking ownership of their faith while at work.

YCP is a national organization, developed in 2010; the local chapter here in the Diocese is its 39th in the country.

South Central PA Chapter leaders told The Catholic Witness during the January 26 launch party that their efforts in bringing YCP to the Diocese stemmed from their own desire to integrate their faith into their professional lives.

“I think it can be really easy to leave your faith at the door when you walk into work, especially if you’re in an office and in an environment where there aren’t many Catholics,” said chapter president Brian Lynch. “When I go into the office, it’s culturally not Catholic insofar as the things people say and the things they’re doing – they think that’s normal and that it’s something I’m also doing, when in fact that’s not how I’m living because I’m leading a Catholic lifestyle.”

“With YCP, we have an opportunity to learn from each other about how to incorporate our faith into our work. We can learn from our peers and from our mentors and speakers, and see what they’re doing at their job to live their faith,” Lynch said. “Ultimately, we want to live our faith all the time. Considering we spend eight hours or more every day at work, that’s a large portion of our life.”

Chapter vice president and director of operations, Jennifer Smith, agreed.

“I work for a government accounting contracting firm, and faith is not the top priority in a conversation, let alone in day-to-day conversation. But I appreciate YCP being the setting for the opportunity to converse with professionals in the workplace while talking about the faith at the same time,” she said.

The Young Catholic Professionals organization aims to inspire members to take true ownership of their faith and work lives, and equips them to go forth as witnesses of personal excellence.

Lynch and Smith began working to establish the South Central PA Chapter in November of 2022, and expressed gratitude for the support of the national chapter and the Diocese of Harrisburg – including Bishop Ronald Gainer, Bishop Timothy Senior and Zack Haney, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

“It’s great to see it come to life in our Diocese, and we can’t be more grateful to them for their support,” Smith said.

The chapter includes a leadership team, board members and chaplains. The leadership team is made up of young professionals serving the chapter as directors for membership, marketing, evangelization, outreach, finance and technology. Seasoned professionals serve as board members, bringing their expertise and mentorship to members of the chapter. Priest chaplains are Father Damon Tritle, Father Chiedozie Ononuju, Father Daniel Powell and Father Aaron Lynch, and provide spiritual guidance as well as opportunities for Mass and Adoration.

The organizational make-up fosters spirituality, mentorship and professionalism as chapter members plan various events throughout the year. Activities will include networking events, executive presentations and panel discussions, and St. Joseph Saturdays – mini retreats with Adoration, Mass and a speaker.

YCP’s next event is a networking Happy Hour on February 12 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Ever Grain Brewing Company in Camp Hill.

Empowering Young Catholic Professionals

With a turnout of well over 200 people at the launch party in Harrisburg, chapter leadership is hopeful that the momentum will lead to a fruitful chapter and high participation at activities.

“With our events, people are invited to attend whatever they’re interested in, or whatever works for their schedule. We’re going to do events throughout the Diocese so that everyone can benefit,” Lynch said.

He urged both young and seasoned professionals to get involved. “While YCP is aimed at those ages 21-39, we are also looking for mentors to volunteer and connect with a young professional for an hour a month. We welcome volunteers of any age to make this a connected Catholic community,” he said.

Bishop Timothy Senior offered his support of the Young Catholic Professionals chapter in the Diocese, and in remarks during the launch party, he stressed the importance of “integrating our faith into our day-to-day lives.”

“Our faith isn’t something we can just set aside; it has to be lived out. We can’t do that on our own. Christianity is not a religion for Lone Rangers. We need a community of faith to support and encourage us. Isolation is a great risk in our world today, and it leads us to turn in on ourselves. Having the opportunity to build community with others is the human spirit at its best,” the bishop said.

YCP National representative Matt Pana, Director of Evangelization for the North Jersey Chapter, also spoke at the kickoff event, and noted the ministry’s appeal to professionals of all ages and all lines of work.

“Many times, people ask, ‘Why YCP? What makes this ministry different?’ I think the words ‘empowering young Catholic professionals’ best describe our mission,” he said. “At YCP, our goal is to present the faith in its fullness, so that you’re excited to learn more and have your faith become the lens through which you see the world.”

“The amazing thing about YCP is that there is an opportunity for all generations to get involved. We believe that young people will be most successful if they have support – not only from their peers but also from those who have gone before them…. Our ministry welcomes people from every single type of profession – from nurses and teachers and entrepreneurs, to people in landscaping and construction,” Pana remarked.

“Ultimately, we all share the calling to work as best we can and serve God through our efforts,” he said.

Learn about the South Central PA Chapter of the Young Catholic Professionals by connecting with them on their Facebook and Instagram pages @YCPSouthCentralPA, or via email to Leadership@ycpsouthcentralpa.org. Information about the national YCP organization is online at www.youngcatholicprofessionals.org.

(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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