Tommy Morris looks forward to participating in the archdiocese’s Office of Young Adult Outreach events, especially the ones with Cardinal Dolan, because “he really gets us.”
Morris and a few hundred other young adults did not leave disappointed after attending “Theology on Tap With Cardinal Dolan” at Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant in Manhattan Feb. 12.
“He really speaks to our experience of being young adults in New York. It’s not an easy thing to be a young Catholic in New York,” Morris, a 27-year-old who attends Mass at Epiphany Church in Manhattan, told CNY.
“(Cardinal Dolan) says very few words, but they’re all very meaningful. He definitely hits home a lot.”
Cardinal Dolan, who met with the young adults before and after his talk, spoke for about 15 minutes before answering written questions from the young adults. He started his talk with words of welcome and a prayer before discussing Ash Wednesday and what receiving ashes signifies, penance and death.
“Inside, we feel sorry for our sins. Outside, we show our sincerity with the sign of ashes,” the cardinal said. “We admit we’re sinners, we tell God we’re sorry for our sins and we ask for his mercy.”
Speaking about death, Cardinal Dolan reminded the young adults what a priest says when the ashes are imposed.
“Remember man, remember woman, you are dust and unto dust you shall return,” he said. “We are going to die. We are dying now. We don’t like to admit that, but it is the truth. It is liberating for us periodically to be reminded of our mortality.”
Cardinal Dolan later discussed the challenges faced by Catholics in receiving ashes in contemporary society before summing up the meaning of Ash Wednesday and Lent.
“The world we live in, contemporary society doesn’t really like to think about either of those two things ashes represent,” the cardinal said. “Our contemporary culture prefers to mock penance and to mock death. Our contemporary culture prefers to deny the reality of sin and to deny the reality of death.
Cardinal Dolan explained, “Ash Wednesday, ashes, Lent becomes a means to an end, the end being the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter and our unity with him in his dying and rising.”
Melissa Maricich, 23, has attended Young Adult Outreach gatherings since moving to New York from Seattle to pursue an acting career.
“As short as six weeks is in the scheme of things, it can feel long at times when you start out trying to give up something and make some changes,” said Ms. Maricich, who attends St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village.
“You need a reminder, some inspiration and a boost. It’s a beautiful thing to be reminded we’re surrounded in this huge room by other devout people who love their faith and Christ, and they’re going to make changes in Lent as well.”
Alex Hariri, 26, was participating in her first young adult event.
“I thought it would be interesting to hear the cardinal speak and a cool experience,” said Ms. Hariri, who attends Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Bernardsville, N.J. She said she was happy to see other young people interested in “learning more about their faith.”
“During Lent, we all reflect on our faith and what we believe in. I think it’s nice everyone is here doing that together.”
The archdiocese’s Office of Young Adult Outreach frequently sponsors events, including monthly Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The next Mass will be offered on March 7. Instead of a social after Mass, the young adults will visit Union Square subway station, Port Authority bus terminal and Grand Central Station to assist homeless people.
Cardinal Dolan is scheduled to celebrate Masses for the young adults in June and December. In July, the Office of Young Adult Outreach is planning a pilgrimage/vacation to France.
There are more than 80 young adult groups in the archdiocese.
“Overall, I would say we have one of the best young adult programs in the world,” said Colin Nykaza, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Young Adult Outreach. “A lot of it is Cardinal Dolan and the amazing leaders we have in our office and the parishes.
“Events like this, especially with Cardinal Dolan, are very important. Cardinal Dolan loves young adults so much. It’s so apparent when he’s at the Masses and events like this. The young adults feel that and know that.”