Reaching Young Adults Through Tacos

By: Brigitte Pinsonneault

It’s Monday evening after work. What are you doing? In Kansas City, twenty-five to forty young adults are getting together at John and Anna Stevenson's house. This group of young adults, members of Saint Paul's Outreach in the Kansas City Young Adult (KCYA) Chapter, gathers primarily to eat tacos, to play a variety of laugh-worthy games together, and to build deeper relationship with one another. In doing so, they are strengthening the community of Catholic young adults in Kansas City.

The plan to host a weekly evangelistic dinner emerged when our KCYA Missionaries recognized the need for a place where we could invite people from all walks of life. “We were meeting people all over the place, and not all of them were ready to be invited to a worship night. Where was there a place to which we could invite new faces to connect with a community of the faithful in a way that felt completely organic?”

Taco dinners on a Monday night was the answer.

One of the KCYA Mission Directors emphasizes the weight that these Monday dinners have played in the young adult outreach this year.

"Monday night dinners are key to our ministry’s success. With a welcoming and low key environment, we have seen people from various backgrounds coming together to sit at a table. People are inviting others into the community because this is something that they feel a part of now. It is exciting to see the reach grow. Before long we will need another house to fit all the people!"

It seems that young adults are hungering for something that, in part, a weekly taco dinner satiates. They are hungry for deeper connection among their peers, they’re searching for meaning in their own lives, and they are longing to give themselves to something greater, to commit themselves to a people and to a cause.  

In some of the men and women the KCYA Missionaries encounter, these desires have yet to be fully awakened or realized. But when individuals come to a Monday night dinner, they don’t just see a few dozen young adults having a good time: they witness something greater.

They see a married couple selflessly opening their home to a group of young adults who would otherwise be strangers week after week. They see individuals serving one another as, routinely, a handful of men will offer to clean up or do the dishes every Monday after dinner is finished. They see young adults engaging one another in friendship that is self-giving. They see people bowing their heads in prayer before a meal. They see a young adult environment where alcohol is offered but not abused. They see men and women respecting one another, treating each other authentically as brothers and sisters in Christ. They see a group of young adult Catholics celebrating life together.

One Monday dinner attendee remarked, "I am so thankful I have a place to come to every Monday night where I know I can be myself. These dinners provide a space for me to foster genuine, Christ-centered friendships." 

When Kansas City young adults come to a Taco Monday Dinner, they witness an example of the life Christ called us to live, a life poured out to one another in a community of disciples on mission, with joy and reckless abandon.

"Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." ~Philippians 2:17
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Kansas Fan Into Flame 2017

By: Alaina Knapp 

Over the weekend of February 10th-12th, Saint Paul's Outreach Kansas hosted about 100 staff and students on Fan Into Flame, a retreat designed to facilitate a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ. The retreat took place at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, Kansas, a retreat center on the beautiful plains of eastern Kansas. Students, leaders, and missionaries from Benedictine College, University of Missouri Kansas City, Arkansas, and Johnson County Community College came to spend a weekend praising the Lord together.

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Student Leaders and SPO missionaries gave a series of talks and testimonies over three days that focused on life in the Spirit and expressive worship of God. Attendees participated in small groups where they shared life and encountered the Lord in brotherhood and sisterhood. Father Simon, one of the chaplains of Benedictine College and monk at St. Benedict's Abbey, attended the retreat and offered the students an opportunity for confession and spiritual guidance. Two sisters from the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ also traveled from Amarillo, Texas to help witness to the Spirit and guide the retreat attendees to deeper communion with Christ. 

The Students and missionaries had an opportunity to pray with each other for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and a true and powerful encounter with the Lord. Many retreatants expressed that they experienced true freedom in worship and were able to recognize in a new way how the Lord was leading them into relationship with Himself. Fr. Simon shared that the students had encountered a beautiful Pentecost-like Spirit during the prayer meeting on Saturday night. 

The community of students and missionaries were renewed in their spiritual lives and further convicted of the truth of the Gospel. Everyone was encouraged to continue pursing the Lord and to commit themselves to living a Spirit-led life. The Lord truly worked in power in the lives of those who attended Fan Into Flame and He will continue to lead every retreatant to a deeper and more personal friendship with Himself. Praise the Lord! 

A Call for Compassion

By: Sunny Morrill

Today I was sitting in one of my classes, simply listening to the lecture, when I got this overwhelming urge to write this. I quickly ripped a page out of my spiral and wrote what you're about to read: something I'd like to entitle"A Call for Compassion". My fellow humans, a prayer of mine has always been for a more empathetic world, and that is where this post comes from. We are all called to care for one another, and we cannot let a world that believes in hiding emotions destroy that call. 

So, this is your call for compassion. 

Let us inquire two things upon a meeting with someone. 

Inquiry one is the way to the true form of someone. For day by day we simply ask "How are you?", but due to society's connotation of the question, we answer surface level, never connecting in a pure form, never connecting to the heartbeat that runs beneath the surface. I instead urge you to ask "How is your heart?", for that truly shows you want to go beyond skin deep. You want to go for their heart, something much deeper. The human condition calls for companionship. God created us to care and be servants to one another as His son came to do for us, and through fruitful conversation we build strong relationships in Christ. As He created Adam and Eve, we are created to be in company, so I urge you to address the condition of the mind and heart with true compassion and genuine curiosity. 

Inquiry two is meant to be a follow up to inquiry one, but on its own is a beautiful show of sacrificial love. My brothers and sisters, I once again urge you to ask and humble yourself by asking, "How can I best serve you?". How can you best treat someone with the compassion of Christ? Find the condition of your peer and from there serve them based on their needs. If they are sad, find joy. If they are happy, find celebration. If they are angry, find peace. Humble yourself by serving in a society that tells you that you are better and above the person next to you. When we humble ourselves to serve, we become a handmaid like our mother, Mary, whom is an excellent example of surrendering yourself to God. 

So my dear ones, if you desire genuine relationships, do not fear vulnerability. Start by seeking compassion for the mind and heart, and beauty will emerge. 

"When you know how much God is in love with you, then you can only live your life radiating that love"

 -Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Transforming Our City Through Worship

By: Brigitte Pinsonneault

The CityWide community is enriched during the time to chat and hangout after praise and worship.

The CityWide community is enriched during the time to chat and hangout after praise and worship.

CityWide, the a twice-a-month prayer meeting held in the basement of an old convent in Roeland Park, Kansas, has been pulling in forty to fifty people since it began in early September. Located in a suburb of Kansas City, the lower level of the St. Agnes convent is transformed into an underground worship space that gives the feel of meeting and worshiping "as the first Christians did," observed a recent CityWide attendee.

Hosted by two chapters of Saint Paul's Outreach in Kansas - the young adult outreach and the Kansas City college outreach - each night of CityWide has welcomed in young people from across Kansas City. Local college students and young professionals gather together with the missionaries of Saint Paul's Outreach Kansas on the second and fourth Thursday of every month to encounter the power of the Gospel and respond to the Lord and his word in dynamic praise and worship.

The scripture verse that's been on the hearts of the CityWide leadership team gives insight into the vision for these gatherings. Like the apostle Paul points to in 1 Corinthians 4:20, it is vital to encounter the Lord in his power, in our direct access to him in prayer and in worship.

"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power."

The idea for CityWide surfaced when the missionaries saw the need for the people they met to encounter the Gospel outside of the walls of a church. Many Christians are used to hearing the message of Jesus within the confines of a Sunday liturgy, but this alone is insufficient for intentional discipleship. There is a need to make consistent and to reveal the relevancy of the Gospel message and a relationship with the Lord Jesus in the daily lives of all people.

When the idea for a CityWide prayer meeting was first pitched to members of the Kansas mission team, SPO Mission Director Nick Redd envisioned, "We want to create an atmosphere of faith where people can hear the Gospel, respond to it in faith, and apply it to their lives." 

Redd continued, "CityWide is a renewal for Catholics in Kansas City, it is a surprise for evangelicals, and it is a refreshing culture of desire and longing." It is here, where our yes and our desire meets our unquenchable desire for God, that our lives are transformed by Christ.

The thing is, many people have heard the Gospel before. They may have heard its message once, twice, or even a hundred times. The CityWide team has seen, though, that each time the Gospel is proclaimed, the power of the word of God makes a fresh impact on the individuals at CityWide. Then, as the body of people respond to the Gospel in praise and worship, the beauty and the intensity of the worship transform the community and Kansas City.

Gospel. Worship. Community. That's what CityWide is about.

Listen to the CityWide messages here.

A Community to be Thankful for: Benedictine College Formation

By Anne Hickerson

With the holiday season beginning and the end of the semester in sight, the Formation community at Benedictine College pressed pause on final projects/tests and premature holiday music to go on our annual fall retreat. As we split into two retreats, men and women, the Lord had a generous helping of truth and mercy for us women. In just over 24 hours we heard a message of love and an invitation to come to Him, to run to Him even, just as we are, without the pressure of perfection weighing us down. 

Yes, the Lord calls us to perfection, "Be perfect, therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48), but we aren't without hope because Jesus wants to bring order and restoration to lead us to His perfection. Jesus asks to share in our struggles and He also provides community for us to lean into. We were able to leave the retreat with greater confidence in the Lord and His provision through His unfailing mercy and the great gift of sisterhood. 

Back in August, many students from our Formation community attended the School of the New Evangelization. The Lord spoke a word of abundance for our community, during our prayer time together, for the upcoming school year. That word as been confirmed over and over again throughout the semester as our community has grown in amazing ways. We have been going through a study on Christ Relationships and are learning how to create a new culture by the way we relate to and love one another along our journey to unity with Christ. 

I have never been more proud to be a part of anything like the way I am proud to be a part of this community. I am surrounded by men and women who constantly push one another to radically give everything to the Lord. There is a standard of love and respect that goes above and beyond treating others well. This community thrives by honoring one another in words and actions, living out Benedictine hospitality in a way that surely makes St. Benedict smile, and sharing mission to glorify the Lord. The abundance of the Lord is tangible in the light that our Formation men and women bring to the campus of Benedictine College and will surely take with them wherever the Lord leads. 

So as I press play on the remainder of my final semester as a student (!!!) and think about what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I place my Formation community at the top of my list. We have a generous Father who always has more for His people. "For I am confident of this, the He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippian's 1:6).