Hundreds of young adults gathered for a night of networking during a Catholic professionals kick-off reception this week, many seeking support and formation in living their faith in the workplace.
“I do feel that young adults are often intimidated and afraid to reveal their faith in the workplace,” said Garrett Adrian, marketing manager at Goddess Garden Organics, who attended the reception at Christ the King Church. “People oftentimes have preconceived notions that Catholics are extreme and close-minded, and that makes it difficult to be bold regarding our faith in the workplace.”
Vanessa Hamm, assistant director of operations for the chapter, shared, “So often in our society, we can feel intimidated into silence about our faith. Yet, I believe this fear and silence has more to do with our own lack of understanding about our Catholic faith than our fear of what others may think.”
Hamm, Adrian and some 250 young adults attended the launch of the Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) Denver chapter Feb. 17 at the church. The church hall was abuzz with chatting young adults and was led by the Dallas-based nonprofit’s founder, Jennifer Baugh, who introduced the chapter and its planned activities.
The Denver chapter is the first launched outside of Texas that will include networking events, happy hours, executive speaker series, mentorships and retreats for members. A leadership team and other volunteers will help organize the events and its first speaker, Archbishop Samuel Aquila, scheduled for March 3 at the St. John Paul II Center.
The hope is that young adults will be engaged in their faith and develop both professional and personal skills through the chapter.
“After college, it can oftentimes be difficult to find a strong faith community of peers,” said Adrian, also the director of marketing for the chapter. “You get up, you go to work, you go home, and hopefully you go to church on Sundays. It is my hope that YCP will help young adults find meaning in their everyday lives and also find a strong, faith-filled community of believers to grow with.”
Baugh told the crowd she started the nonprofit after exploring a personal relationship with Christ and receiving inspiration from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s message on World Youth Day 2010 about following God’s word.
Hamm said she was once “busy chasing” worldly cares in her professional life until she decided to let God take control of her life.
“I was so busy chasing what the world told me would bring me ‘happiness’ that it took a long time to recognize I was actually quite far from content,” she said. “In fact, by living this type of lifestyle I had become fragmented, acting differently depending on who I was with or where I was.”
She shared that frequent sacraments and prayer changed her life and she actively witnesses for Christ.
Adrian said he also has found it difficult to live and share his faith at work.
“Religion is one of those subjects that is taboo in the work environment, and it’s scary to even broach the subject in the office,” he said. “But, most of my coworkers do know that I’m Catholic. They know that when I travel for work I go to church on Sundays. Although I can at times lose sight of my faith in the office, I hope that now I carry myself day to day as a Catholic man and can be a light to my coworkers.”
The Denver chapter is open to young adults ages 20 to 39.
Young Catholic Professionals Denver
7 p.m.-9 p.m. March 3
Refectory on the St. John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
Speaker: Archbishop Samuel Aquila