The Catholic young adult community celebrated its first Young Adult Mass of 2022 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Jan 5 with celebrant Father Jean-Paul Soler sharing how a daily Holy Hour as a seminarian became a daily routine for life.
“The seminary is kind of like a prison, it runs on rhythm, on pattern,” said Father Soler, who is pastor of St. Clement-St. Michael parish on Staten Island. “What has been done will always be done. So when they make a change, seminarians notice. We have a very small world and everything gets talked about, but the rector was very very open, he was adding a daily Holy Hour at 6 a.m.
“He said the men needed to learn to be comfortable with Holy Hour. Holy Hour should be one of the great pillars of our lives, so we would do it together at 6 a.m. every day.”
Father Soler would join a group of seminarians for a cup of tea before retiring for the night, and others, like himself, stayed up late watching movies.
“We didn’t do it every night, but we probably did it too much,” he said.
“I was not pleased with the 6 a.m. Holy Hour.
At first, Father Soler said he was “not pleased” with the early-morning Holy Hour. But as time went on, he said, “I came to love that Holy Hour. I’ve learned to love a morning Holy Hour.”
Father Soler, who was ordained to the priesthood in 2007, said he continues to hold a daily Holy Hour in the rectory or chapel with Jesus and a cup of coffee. He’ll look over the readings and Gospels for upcoming Masses, go through his day’s schedule, recite the Rosary and end the hour with prayer.
“I grew to love that Holy Hour,” he said. “First, it’s a burden, then it’s a chore, then it’s a rhythm and then it’s like you’re breathing. If you don't have it, you miss it.”
Before closing his homily, Father Soler reminded the young adults it was the Feast Day of St. John Neumann. St. John Neumann, a native of Bohemia, was ordained for the Redemptorist order at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan in 1836 and was later named the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, where he established the first diocesan school system.
“He was a New Yorker and he had the temper of a New Yorker. Look him up, he’s worth it,” Father Soler said.
Audrey Caplan, 24, moved to Manhattan from Florida back in September and said she’s made many friends by being a member of the Catholic young adult community. The parishioner of St. Joseph’s in Greenwich Village reflected on the homily she enjoyed from Father Soler.
“I loved how he was kind of saying you really have to break down, in a sense, to break through,” she told CNY.
Before Mass, confessions and Eucharistic Adoration were offered, and musician/singer Christa Dalmazio provided the music before and during Mass.
The Mass was offered for Kate Schroeder, an Oregon native and Manhattan resident who died over New Year’s Day weekend. She was an active member of the Catholic young adult community and a portrait of her on an easel stood in front of the altar for the Mass.
“She was a really dear member of our community and our condolences go out to her family and to her friends who are joining us here tonight and on the livestream,” said Kaitlyn Colgan of the archdiocesan Office Young Adult Outreach in the announcements before Mass ended.
Ms. Colgan was speaking on behalf of the Office of Young Adult Outreach and its director Colin Nykaza, who was unable to attend the Mass because of Covid-19 protocols.
“Our young adult community is very strong in faith. No matter what this year brings to us, we know Jesus and Mary will take care of us,” Nykaza later told CNY.