Entering fifth year, apostolate’s shift includes incorporating regular Masses during events, focusing on those early in careers
DETROIT — A crowded assortment of young adults mingles around the grounds of Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit.
They are bankers, health care workers, teachers, interns, startup executives and media relations personnel, all coming from an assortment of parishes, but all looking for the same thing:
Connection. And maybe a quick meal.
August marked the start of the fifth year of the Detroit chapter of Young Catholic Professionals, an apostolate geared toward those in the 22-39-year-old age bracket who are looking to live out their faith in a professional work environment.
Trey Bauman, who is beginning his second term as president of YCP Detroit, said 100 to 150 people show up regularly to YCP events. Even in an ever-connected — and increasingly socially distant — world, people are still looking for those one-on-one relationships with fellow Catholics, Bauman said.
“People are longing for connection, and YCP is especially attractive, I would say, to those 23- to 27-year old who have left college, now transitioning into their first or second career, and want to be around others who are building their lives and want Christ involved in that life,” Bauman, a parishioner at SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights, told Detroit Catholic.
YCP Detroit usually hosts two events a month: an executive speaker series featuring a prominent Detroit-area professional who offers testimony about living out their Catholic faith in a secular workplace, and a happy hour at a local establishment for networking.
The group also has events and outings for the 30 dues-paying members of the organization, which are also open to non-members for a fee. Bauman said members pay $150 a year.
Membership includes the opportunity to have a spiritual mentor for direction, professional development and free admittance to happy hour events where non-members have to pay.
“The folks who pay the $150 actually get a member experience, to be actively part of an organization that’s professionally driven,” Bauman said. “By becoming a member, it’s a financial commitment, which leads to a great investment in the organization. That investment leads to benefits in terms of professional development events we have through the year.”
Jonathan Lucken, a parishioner at St. Mary in Royal Oak, joined YCP after being involved in the Detroit Catholic Young Adult Committee. Lucken was seeking to join a community with other young adults after moving to the Detroit area from Cincinnati.
“Seeing the impact YCP has had on the community, mainly for young Catholics in today’s day and age when we can be drawn away by our phones or hide in our hermit holes, was really attractive to me,” Lucken said. “YCP really draws us out and gives us a community we are actively look for, especially as we come out of COVID-19. That’s something people are looking for: an authentic experience.”
Beyond meeting other Catholic professionals in the area, Lucken said he’s been more comfortable sharing his faith in the workplace in a respectful, professional way that still boldly proclaims the Gospel in a way that fits a modern workplace.
“Detroit is a very big Catholic town, and it’s been fun to meet other Catholics and speak with coworkers who have kids my age who are just out of college and looking for a job, telling them about this great resource,” Lucken said. “We have representatives from every industry (in YCP), from automotive to insurance, finance and medical. It’s a great opportunity to grow.”
Czeena Devera, a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth who works in the publishing industry, found YCP Detroit in 2018 after moving to Michigan in 2016.
Devera discovered a YCP event at St. Joseph Oratory in 2018 using the MeetUp app and has been involved in the organization ever since.
“As a Catholic who works in the secular world, I like how the speakers YCP brings in show you how to live your faith in a non-Catholic world, how you can still bring your faith into the workplace,” Devera said. “Plus there is usually food and drinks at these events, which is always a positive.”
Events, especially the executive speaker series, always begin with prayer, and a priest is usually available for confessions. Recently, the YCP team has been incorporating Mass to start the event, before people congregate for socializing and networking and then returning to the church for the speaker’s keynote.
“I love the fact we start with Mass now,” Devera said. “I try to go to daily Mass, but now that I’m back at the office for part of the week, it’s hard to do that. So any opportunity I get to go to daily Mass is great. It’s kind of an icebreaker; you don’t have to talk to everyone right away, and it builds something for us all to have in common.”
Placing Christ front and center of the ministry is what will lead to YCP’s continued growth in its fifth year, Bauman said.
“YCP strives to be that welcoming environment where anybody looking for a place to make friends will have 150 peers waiting to meet them,” Bauman said. “It’s not like walking into a place they don’t know. It’s for people who are working, are strong in their faith, and want to meet like-minded people.
“Not only are you meeting new people and getting a good meal, it’s a spiritually focused environment without being overwhelmingly spiritual,” Bauman added. “It’s a place where people can learn about being Christ in the workplace, which I think people are hungry for.”