Walking step by step, together


By Sarah Callahan
Gray Spaces Graces


This year, the Diocese of Davenport is focusing on Youth + Family Engagement as part of its Building on the Synod initiative. I have “skin in the game” here, since I am a young person in the Church. I’ve also seen many of my peers and friends walk away from the Church and, if I’m being honest, I can understand their reasons for leaving. It can be isolating and frustrating being a young adult in the Church, especially those of us in the early career and pre-marriage/children stage. It can feel like there aren’t many of us and that for those of us who are here, there aren’t many programs or groups.

Our recent Synodal Summit inspires my hope for this year — that it will open our eyes to the needs of those in every age and stage of life in our Church. During the summit, we discussed how families are much broader than a mom and dad in their first marriage with two kids. In fact, a better word to use may be “households.” The term “household” allows for a much more inclusive vision of what makes up a familial unit. A household could be a single, young professional. It could be a grandmother and her grandchild, it could be a young, married couple or a foster mom and her kids. The list goes on.

Denise Utter, our keynote speaker, talked about our need to welcome those who may only show up to church for sacraments or Mass once in a while, rather than shaming them for not coming enough. As I reflect upon my conversations with friends about their reasons for no longer practicing their faith, I often hear them make comments about feeling judged, more than feeling invited and welcomed. An essential part of living in the gray space is to allow people to grow. That means allowing them to start from wherever they are and to explore on their journey to missionary discipleship. This takes time — not just a couple of months’ time — but real time — years, maybe decades, maybe a lifetime. That is a reality that we, as active members of the Church, must accept. We must be willing to go with others on their walks, no matter the length of the journey. We must understand that there will be times when we are the ones needing the other to walk by our side.


Our journeys, as active members in the Church and those searching, may not always be progressing. It is easy to ebb and flow in faith. This is why building up communities and families is so important. When we feel like we belong in a community, we are more likely to continue to show up. On days, weeks or months where we are in a spiritual slump, it is the people who draw us into consistent participation — and that is okay. So, let us all be those people for others, especially for the youths and young adults in our Church.

Let us be people who are safe, people who are open to learning and asking questions, people who listen, people who are willing to stand in solidarity, people who are curious about the other and people who, above all, reflect the love of Jesus.

(Sarah Callahan is social media coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport.)

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1 thought on “Walking step by step, together

  1. In some parts of the diocese like Quad Cities and Iowa City, there are young adult groups available. For young adults feeling isolated from the church, I would really recommend trying to connect to some of the young adult resources available there.

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