Katie Mitchell attended the University of Notre Dame in
Indiana to play golf, but wound up finding her Catholic
faith. With chapels in every building and friends who shared
the same values, sacraments and spiritual encouragement were
never more than a dorm room away. Finding that same
environment after college was a little more challenging.
After graduation, Mitchell and her husband, Charlie, moved
around a lot, bouncing from parish to parish. When they
settled down in Alexandria, they decided to be more
intentional about investing in a church. The couple found the
young adult community at Blessed Sacrament Church in
Alexandria and fell in love, said Mitchell. "We found our
Notre Dame community," she said. "It just took a while to get
As Mitchell found, the Arlington Diocese is full of
opportunities for newly graduated Catholics to find faith
communities - from parish groups to diocesanwide events. On a
typical Tuesday night, a young adult can pray through
contemporary Christian music at Arlington Worship at Our Lady
of Lourdes Church. They can attend a sock-hop or lecture at
the Arlington Forum at St. Charles Borromeo Church Friday
night, and join fellow Catholics for a game of soccer at St.
Leo Church in Farifax Sunday.
"There are so many different things for so many different
people," said Brendan Gotta, diocesan young adult
coordinator. "So if P3 is your thing - a crowd of 200 people
(gathering for penance, prayer and a trip to a pub with St.
Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington) - you can do that. But
if you'd rather meet with a Bible study of 10, that's
Young adult communities are places where peers figure out
their lives together - jobs, housing, spirituality, dating
and everything in between. Here, young adult leaders in the
diocese give their advice on life after college.
A place to work and a place to sleep
In the Northern Virginia area, networking can be the key to
finding both housing and a good job. "That first job is the
most difficult one," said Josh Bickl, a member of the young
adult community at Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls.
"Start talking to people and be flexible."
Many people also find their roommates through word of mouth,
or asking their friends via social media. Even if you're good
friends with potential roommates, be sure you'll be
compatible living together, counsels Mitchell. "Does this
person have these qualities? Can we live with each other in
peace?" she said.
Arragon Perrone, a former FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic
University Students) missionary, spent a while looking for a
job in ministry, he said. Now the coordinator of the youth
and young adult apostolate at St. Mary Church in Alexandria
tells people to look for jobs within the Catholic Church at
CatholicJobs.com and to talk to familiar priests for leads.
Once you have a job, don't be afraid to find a career with a
better fit, says Mitchell. "I did consulting and my husband
is an attorney. We were working crazy hours and we were so
stressed and disconnected," she said. "My advice is to stay
open-minded; it's a continual search the perfect job. The job
(I now have in corporate finance) really fits our lifestyle
After finding a place to work and a place to live, young
adults should look for a spiritual home. "It's never fun
being the new person in the room, but you already have a lot
in common from a faith-life perspective," said Mitchell.
Perrone recommends joining a parish group to forge a core
group of friends, and then meeting new people at larger
events, such as St. Mary's Christmas caroling night in Old
Young adult communities can be great places to meet a future
boyfriend or girlfriend, but Bickl believes that's not the
best way to approach it. "Grow together in faith and
fellowship, and trust that the rest of it will work out," he
Bickl also suggests forming single-sex small groups. Fiat,
the Our Lady of Hope young adult community "has a lot of
co-ed things, but it's really important that men hang out
together and that women hang out together, because women's
approach to spirituality may be different and vice versa," he
Being an adult
The key part of being a Catholic young adult is being an
adult - a full-fledged member of the body of Christ, said
Gotta. "At the heart of it, we are called to community, and
it's not just one age group. I think a lot of times with
young adults the mindset is, 'What can I get from this
parish?' Instead of, 'What can I give?'"
Being an adult means taking responsibility for your soul,
your prayer life and your relationship with Christ, said
Perrone. "Be diligent to daily prayer - that's the first
thing that will go, especially if you're very active." He
recommends a silent time of mental prayer and an examination
of conscience at night. "That's the ideal - trying to invite
God into your day," he said.
For spiritual beginners and longtime Catholics alike, faith
communities make a big difference, as Bickl discovered. "In
college, I wasn't a practicing Catholic, but once I started
getting involved in (my parish), my faith started to grow a
lot," he said. "Just show up and God will do the rest."
Check out these young adult resources:
View the Catholic Herald's The Scene Calendar page for
upcoming events for young adults and singles.
Area Catholics Looking for Roommates
Sign up to get weekly Arlington Young Adult Ministry emails
Like them on Facebook
Sign up to get Catholic Sports Club of the Diocese of
Like them on
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St. Mary Church in Alexandria
St. Veronica Church in
Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls
Church in Alexandria
Check your parish bulletin to see if your church is home to a
young adult community.
Di Mauro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on