Young Adult Ministry promotes smaller groups to develop deeper connections, bond with Christ and each other

PLYMOUTH — Where two or more of his followers are gathered, Christ is present.

This Lent, Christ has been present throughout Metro Detroit, where his followers have been meeting in small groups to discern his word and his will.

The Archdiocese of Detroit Young Adult Ministry has sponsored the creation of small group Bible study sessions in the metro region to encourage young adults to gather together to read the Scriptures this Lent.

The young adult calendar in the Archdiocese of Detroit is packed with events that draw large groups, such as Theology on Tap and Young Catholic Professionals, but the small group Bible study sessions are meant for people who seek a deeper connection with Christ and each other.

“Bible studies are a good opportunity to grow deeper in your faith, developing authentic, holy friendships,” said Patrick Howard, archdiocesan young adult ministry coordinator. “Two weeks before Lent started, I found volunteers, young adults willing to facilitate small group Bible studies. We then invited the larger community to see who would be interested.”

Howard said more than 60 people signed up to form seven women’s groups and two men’s groups in the greater Metro Detroit region.

The groups meet once a week in the moderator’s home, a bar or restaurant or in a church, reading a passage of Scripture together and using a study sheet provided by Howard from the Evangelical Catholic called “Signs and Wonders.”

Czeena Devera of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth wanted to be the facilitator of a group after completing the Walking with Purpose Women’s Bible study group at her parish and wanting to do something involving young adult women in her town.

“I’m pretty active in going to young adult Catholic events, but living in downtown Plymouth, I wanted to meet women who live in my area that I don’t see at those events,” Devera said. “The group I have are all women who live in my area, so it’s a nice way to foster a senses of community, of sisterhood, of women who are around my age.”

Devera said the group meets weekly at various bars and restaurants in the Plymouth area, beginning the study session with prayer before reading a passage from the Bible and using the supplied Dynamic Catholic study sheet to spur discussion.  

Small groups have formed in downtown Detroit, Plymouth, Rochester, the Downriver area, Orchard Lake, Royal Oak, Sterling Heights and Troy as tight groups where friendships in Christ can begin.

“I wanted to help facilitate a small group because I see Lent as a season of suffering, but also a season of grace, of profound joy that I wanted to share,” Devera said. “The women in the group are going through the same things I am. They also want to have some profound piece of wisdom or reflection this Lent.”

The big appeal of the Bible study groups is their smaller nature, Howard said. Small groups have formed in downtown Detroit, Plymouth, Rochester, the Downriver area, Orchard Lake, Royal Oak, Sterling Heights and Troy as tight groups where friendships in Christ can begin.

“It is normal psychology that we can’t bond intimately as everyone in a large group,” Howard said. “Even in a large group, it breaks into smaller groups. Smaller groups have the ability where people are more willing to get to know the people in their group, they can open up more and get to know people better.”

The small group Bible study sessions also serve as a way to build up a sense of Catholic community in areas in the archdiocese that often feel underserved by larger, more centralized events, said Madison Switzer of Our Lady of the Scapular Parish in Wyandotte.

“There was no one Downriver here to organize, and as soon as I read the email, I knew I wanted to do it,” Switzer said. “Downriver doesn’t have a lot of fellowship among young Catholics; I don’t really know any other young Catholics, most of the groups are in Detroit are the northern suburbs, so we wanted to bring together women who are Catholic Downriver.”

The Downriver group meets on Thursday nights in the Switzer home, usually a group of seven from parishes throughout the area.

“Coming from a Protestant church, there was good community, but not so much with the Catholics in the area,” Switzer said. “With Catholicism, you feel like you are alone in your faith, trying to live it out by yourself, but that is not possible; you need others. Having a group like this gives me support, knowing there are other devout Catholic women in my area.”

Both Switzer and Devera said their groups are interested in continuing the meetings beyond Easter.

“We haven’t formally decided on continuing on, but there is definitely an interest in keeping the group together,” Devera said. “But some of the women in the group have talked about visiting each other’s parishes, going on pilgrimages together. When you are in a small group, committed to doing something weekly, you can really build a sense of community, really get to know one another.

“I’m definitely grateful, amazed to be in a group like this,” Devera continued. “It seems we run out of time after every meeting, staying until the last minute. But we create an environment where everyone feels they have a chance to contribute, a chance to share what they have experienced as they read these passages from Scripture, and we all feel we have found something that enriches our Lenten experience, making us feel connected.”