Holy Cross Welcomes Triangle-area Catholic Young Adults Scripture and Faith Sharing Group

Young adults invited read, discuss Scripture, fellowship

Photo of Jason Martin at entrance to Holy Cross Catholic Church, Durham, NCJason Martin – a fairly new member of the Holy Cross community – is on a mission: To engage other young adults at Holy Cross and throughout the Triangle area in fellowship and in growing their understanding of Scripture and Catholicism. His vehicle: weekly small group gatherings for Scripture study and faith sharing.

The group is now meeting Wednesday evenings via ZOOM, beginning at 7 PM. All young adults (ages 21-40 or so) are welcome for an evening of prayer, Scripture reading, discussion and faith sharing. 

“In recent years, I've become increasingly active in Bible study groups and other young adult social events in the area,” Martin said. That included mid-week Bible study sessions based in a Catholic church in Raleigh. When that parish changed its space use guidelines, Martin began holding the discussion sessions at in space available at his apartment complex, but he wanted to bring the group back to a more spiritual environment, and to have other young adults at Holy Cross participate.

He turned to his parish, Holy Cross, and asked if he could base the group here. After discussions with Deacon Phil, our Pastor Fr. Bart, and a few young adults in the parish, the idea was brought up at our January Pastoral Council meeting where he received the go-ahead to make Holy Cross home base for the Triangle Catholic Scripture and Faith Sharing Group.

While he encourages Holy Cross’s young adult community to participate, Martin said he chose the name for the group to reflect his other larger goal: to encourage young adults – ages 21 and up – from throughout the Triangle area to participate.

“People here are not tied to one community,” Martin said. “They may work in Raleigh or Chapel Hill but live and go to church in another Triangle community. Durham and Holy Cross seemed like a good location with easy access from the highways in the area.”

About Jason Martin

Martin teaches in the career and technology education (CTE) department in the Wake County Pubic School (WCPSS) system. In that role, he teaches courses related to digital design and 3D modeling and animation.

Prior to joining the WCPSS, Martin worked for nearly seven years as a 3-D environment artist with Icarus Studios, later doing business as MFV.com, a division of NECA/WizKids. He was team lead for several projects, working closely with the art director, programming and design leads to create or edit 3D models for games and other real-time environments. This also included creating and/or editing high-resolution models for 3D prints, such as licensed materials from companies like Marvel and DC.

He has an associate of arts degree from Piedmont Community College, where he studied digital effects and animation technology, including the fundamentals of 3D modeling and animation and gained exposure to other disciplines, such as video editing and web design.

He previously had earned a bachelor’s in graphic communications from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, where he served a year as president of the Pyramid of Design and Drafting Society.

About his Faith Journey

Martin shared the following about his faith journey; content was lightly edited.

Growing up, recognizing my mother's dedication to the Church and our faith attributed greatly to my own commitment to deepening my faith now.

Blessed Sacrament Catholic School and Church, Burlington's only Catholic parish, were my second home. My mother, who has been involved with the Church for as long as I can remember, worked hard to provide my two older siblings and me with a good education and a solid Catholic faith foundation. My sister and I both attended the Catholic school from kindergarten through the 8th grade. 

My mother formed bonds and friendships with my teachers, many of whom were also parishioners, as well as the priests she's worked with so closely throughout my upbringing. Between her serving as Eucharistic minister, a cantor, a catechist, an organizer and leader for the Hispanic community and ministries, and for a while even serving as the Director of Religious Education, going to Mass and being at the church for more hours than most other families was just what we did. As it is with many children being raised Catholic, there wasn't really much choice in the matter, especially on Sundays. As I matured, even after gaining some independence while being "away" at college, I maintained the habit of attending Mass regularly, but at least it was on my own schedule. Granted, I was still well within my mother's reach and influence, having not gone far away. I earned my bachelor's from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, "right up the road" from home – and my mother also worked for the university for most of my life.

Mass: Beyond a habit; a necessity, a time to reset, unload for the week

Regardless of the proximity, I had my own sense of freedom and was afforded plenty of opportunity to break the norm and establish my own habits of practicing, or not practicing, my faith. For me, this was when my faith started to take shape in my life. At some point in my college years, I started to appreciate the Mass in a whole new way. Attending Mass shifted from being a weekly habit to feeling more and more like a necessity for me – something I needed to reset, or to unload mentally for the week. Even after having been an altar server for so many years growing up, I found myself being more attentive and more inclined to participate in the Mass than I had before. Rather than just recognizing cues and knowing the prayers and responses to say, I started to be more aware of their purpose.

More importantly, it was the time that I started to wonder about my faith. Up to that time, it was "just what we did," but starting then, it became more of my own choice to practice my faith. To me, this was a step up, spiritually speaking, but my zeal very much plateaued there

I'd met my first girlfriend around the same time. Although she was not Catholic, she would attend Mass with me frequently. There was no shortage of questioning and bewilderment about the ceremony and the formality of the Mass. Too often, I found that my reply would be, "this is just what we do."

I started to recognize that I had done the "what" for so long, but I didn't understand the "why" well enough to articulate sound reasoning for what I was choosing to practice. Rather than using such questioning as fuel to further my understanding of the Catholic faith, I was instead, more inclined to just compartmentalize my faith. Rather than hearing myself air my half-baked justifications for why Catholics do this or that at church, it was easier to just avoid the need for conversations about my faith by slipping away for an hour or so for Mass on Saturday or Sunday evening, then coming back to the rest of my life outside of church, for the next six days and 23 hours.

This was a whole new habit that formed, one that followed me throughout my college years and into my early thirties. Until very recently in my adulthood, I didn't have much access or exposure to peers that were considered practicing Catholics. I was always intent on keeping the friendships I'd forged at work or to keep the attention of the women I'd taken special interest in, and I always assumed that my faith was, or could be, a point of contention. So, I just resigned to keep those two facets of my life separate. Eventually, I began to acknowledge and accept the folly in my insistence on this compartmentalization. I still wanted and needed to attend Mass each week, the same way I did in college, but I wanted to be able to share this, openly, with those close to me.

Seeking Connections

My life shifted significantly, just before I was beginning my teaching career. It was then that I resolved to begin pursuing a deeper understanding and appreciation for my Catholic faith and to aim to find connections with more like-minded individuals – not only other Catholics, but people that were guided by their faith.

I eventually discovered the Raleigh Catholic Young Adults group on Facebook. This group mainly serves as a forum where many Catholic young adults from parishes around the Triangle post information about anything from Mass times to retreats, social events, or questions about current events related to the Church. It was here that I learned about and began attending Bible studies regularly. Over the past few years, this has given me several opportunities to meet new people, each at different places and depths in their faith journey.

I've found that reading and listening to the weekly Mass readings with more intention and having the opportunity to discuss them with others has greatly deepened my understanding of the Life of Christ. It's given me a firmer grasp of the connections between the Old and New Testaments, Christ's ministry and His Passion, and how these things are represented and celebrated in the Mass.

Small Group Discussions

I found a small group that met regularly on Wednesdays to be especially enriching. The majority of those attending, who came from several different parishes and parts of the Triangle, seemed to have a great zeal for the faith, deep respect for the Mass, and a wealth of historical knowledge about the stories of the Bible. In addition to the social connections, it was here, and in other groups like it, that I could openly express my faith – my thoughts, my understanding, my experiences and my spirituality, without first having to explain or defend my reasoning.

When the space where had been gathering was no longer available, I and several others who had grown accustom to meeting on Wednesdays found a vacuum in our weekly routine and made efforts to sustain this block of time for exploring our faith together.

Welcoming Other Young Adults for Discussions about Scripture, Faith

My intention has been to welcome as many young adults as are interested to join in the experiences that I've enjoyed from having a place to share my faith. The basic formula for these groups has been to explore the weekly Mass readings and share thoughts on how the readings are connected, and how they might be related to our day-to-day lives and experiences as Christian Catholics. There is a lot of room for more participants and for format changes. I've taken several suggestions for content discussion, book studies, video-based discussions or documentary series, etc. I am not opposed to any of these things. Ideally, I'd like to arrange for a clergy person to attend and assist with discussions regularly. I'm certain that there is room for some evangelizing.

I've been blessed to have encountered and shared discussions with several converts to the Faith in other groups. For now, I hope that this group presents an opportunity for other young adults in the area to meet with other like-minded individuals, guided by and trying to grow in their faith.



Tags: Young adult Catholic faith sharing group, Triangle Catholic Scripture and Faith Sharing Group, Young adult Catholic Scripture discussion group


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