By Sam Albano, DUSA Young Adult Caucus Secretary
In recent weeks, two stories from the gospels have captivated me. In the “Feeding of the Multitude,” Jesus’ disciples were confronted with hungry crowds, but had only two fish and five loaves of bread to offer them. Believing that they were unable to feed the crowd, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away so that they may eat the evening meal elsewhere. Jesus replied firmly saying, “Give them some food yourselves.” As the story goes, those few loaves and fish were more than enough to satisfy all who were present. (See Luke 9:10-17) At the Last Supper, Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet and instructed them that they were now to do likewise. Sitting with them at table afterward, Jesus reminded them: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.” (See John 13) Reflecting on our recent young adult retreat, these two stories offer some insight into the meaning of this wonderful weekend.
Members of the Dignity Young Adult Caucus (DYAC) gathered in Washington, D.C., July 25-27 for our first-ever national retreat. Over forty young adults traveled from all corners of the United States to be present. Twelve local chapters of DignityUSA were represented, and we were also pleased to welcome a number of young adults who do not have local chapters in their cities. Dignity/Washington graciously provided space for the retreat at their Dignity Center.
Jamie Manson of Dignity/New York led the retreat program with engaging talks on the Catholic sacramental imagination, sexual ethics, and engagement within our communities. She also led a moving closing liturgy on Sunday morning. Other highlights of the weekend included small group time, a community picnic with members of Dignity/Washington, and, yes, a dance party on Saturday night. (What would a Catholic gathering be without a party?) The weekend also provided an opportunity to launch our young adult video project and social media outreach. In the final retreat session on Sunday, DYAC members worked to identify other priorities for our caucus, leading up to Convention 2015 in Seattle.
As LGBT Catholics, we often find ourselves hungry (or worse) within the institutional Church. DYAC is a place to pray, to live our faith, and to share our lives in a way that is affirming and life-giving. Not unlike the “Feeding of the Multitude,” our DYAC retreat was an opportunity to feed one another with the gifts that we have. We are God’s people, providing nourishment and love for one another.
Sunday’s closing liturgy brought to mind the Last Supper, where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Using the symbol of water, we each blessed one another’s hands as we prepared to go forth from our weekend. In doing so, we prepared each other for the important work that still lies ahead.
From my perspective, this weekend was about gathering as people of God, feeding one another, washing each other’s feet, and seeking the face of God together. If my Catholic training serves me right, this is the meaning of Church! I would even go so far as to say that this is the essence of Eucharist. Together, we were, and are Church! And we are given the same instruction once given to Jesus’ first followers: “Love one another.” This is what DYAC is about. And this is what DignityUSA is to me.
Visit the Dignity Young Adult Caucus page on Facebook to see our weekly member profiles and to view our young adult video filmed during retreat.