Feast of St. Joseph the Worker marks symbolic revamping of ministry

The feast of St. Joseph the Worker honors the foster father of Jesus in his capacity as provider for the Holy Family and in teaching our Lord his trade of carpentry. It is fitting then, that his May 1 feast day coincides with the re-igniting of Phoenix’s Young Catholic Professionals chapter to show millennials, its sole audience, how “Working in Witness for Christ” yields a fruitful harvest in both this world and the kingdom to come.

Key members of the Phoenix chapter of Young Catholic Professionals poses for a photo following one of its training sessions at Mt. Claret Retreat Center. Board Member Gary Naquin (fron right) presents Chapter President Kyle Lambros (front left) with a bottle of his favorite Scotch for winning a friendly competition between the leadership team and its board of directors to formally get its team together first. (courtesy photo)

“Professionalism is one of the best ways we can draw people into the Church,” said Kyle Lambros, president of YCP Phoenix. He has found that, unless millennials are converts or have had a “reversion,” many don’t find the Church attractive.

Young Catholic Professionals Phoenix Chapter

Executive Speaker Series

7 p.m. May 1

St. Theresa Parish, 5045 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix

For those between ages 20-40. The first Executive Speaker Series will feature Alan Sears, founder of Alliance Defending Freedom. The series will re-occur every first Wednesday.

RSVP required for free childcare.

info@ycpphoenix.org

Given a frequent “career-first” or “career growth” mindset, they will, however, gravitate toward inspiration in virtue and excellence. YCP can be a landing place for that too, especially via monthly Executive Speaker Nights featuring insight from a Catholic speaker older than 40 who has lived a life of virtue and faith while being successful in the workplace. Some events, such as the May 1 event, which will be at St. Theresa Parish, will provide free childcare for young professionals who are balancing career and family life.

The 11-member leadership team and its seven members of the board of directors — “seasoned” Catholic mentors older than 40 — have 22 events planned for the coming year, including more speaker nights, quarterly Networking Happy Hours and biannual retreat days. It’s all free for those ages 20-40.

Lambros, who attended the YCP Phoenix’s Executive Speaker Series before the Phoenix chapter took a short hiatus, found YCP didn’t pull in just those in their “Catholic bubble,” but fringe Catholics too. “The potential of YCP to be that one link anyone might have to any religion is way too good of a possibility for anyone to pass up,” Lambros said.

Add in YCP’s national resources — there are 19 chapters in 10 states with more launching this year and constant requests to grow abroad, with St. Joseph the Worker as patron for the nationwide association — and it’s a recipe for ministry that’s greater than any parish or diocese could offer, he said.

“We need something as adults, even as strong practicing Catholics, to bring them in, to root them,” Lambros said. Those roots address the loneliness epidemic, build healthy relationships and ultimately blossom into more robust parish life. “Before you know it, you have a new generation of Catholics ready to take over,” Lambros said.

Katie Eberwein, YCP Phoenix’s director of evangelization, is already “Working in Witness for Christ.” As member care coordinator with Solidarity HealthShare, she especially strives to hear the difficult callers as a reflection of the love of Christ and offers their frustration and anger to the cross.

Her social work background and YCP advice she heard while living in Orange County inspired her. The tips: Good ethics make good business and patience during a business transaction is impactful.

“They saw their job as a mission field. It was just really neat to meet people striving for holiness in their normal moment,” she said. Eberwein, a parishioner of St. Timothy in Mesa, sees YCP Phoenix as a “unifying young adult avenue” filling that breach for professional and spiritual development.

A team of seasoned mentors is ready to ensure that happens. Bill O’Connell, chairman of YCP Phoenix’s board of directors and a member and past vice president of Legatus in Phoenix — whose Catholic members are executive-level “ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace” — recruited mentors during the latest diocesan men’s conference. Nearly 100 percent of those he spoke to jumped on board with YCP’s mission.

“There is a true hunger for Catholic young people in finding their identity. Everybody’s teched up and connected, but true, authentic relationships — there seems to be a real hunger for it,” said O’Connell, a parishioner of St. Paul in Phoenix. YCP addresses that by catering to young Catholics at any stage of their faith journey.

And for adult readers who no longer fit YCP’s targeted age, Lambros always has two roles available. The first: informally become a prayer warrior because he knows spiritual attack for its leadership team and guests is coming. The second role: become an executive speaker or panel member or recommend one.

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