The diocesan Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministry is reaching out to young adults through a new website.
HaveFaithBuffalo.com offers resources for people in their 20s and 30s who are looking to deepen their faith life.
The website lists events, retweets, messages regarding the pope and local happenings, and offers a newsletter.
HaveFaithBuffalo.com is geared specifically toward two target audiences: those receptive to the Church, but less concerned about God or the spiritual life; and those who are spiritual, but not likely to attend Mass.
"Either they're connected well with the Church, but outside of Church they're not praying or living out their faith in the world, or they are actively seeking spirituality, but not within the Church," said Sarah Leahy, ministry development coordinator for the Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministry. "We're trying to reach both of those audiences and help them marry a sense of belonging and community within the Catholic Church."
A primary goal of the site is to help connect young adults with the larger community, whether it be a parish, support group or social group looking for fun things to do in town.
"Often (being a young adult) can be a lonely time in life," Leahy said. "There are great ministries happening throughout the dioceses. We never had a central place for people in their 20s and 30s to find those things."
The January calendar includes a weekly Frassati gathering. Frassati Western NY is a group of young Catholic adults in the Buffalo Diocese whose mission it is to cultivate friendships founded in Christ and to seek to grow in the Catholic faith through adventure, formation, prayer and acts of charity.
They will read and discuss Scripture, hear a short presentation, then end the evening with the Divine Mercy Chaplet. On Saturday, Jan. 16, an invisible illness game night will be held for people dealing with chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy and Lupus who meet for friendship, games and support. At the end of the month is a date night for married couples.
The website is also meant to be a resource for parishes and others who know young adults. Parishes and other ministries are encouraged to add events specifically meant for young adults to the calendar.
"We would like it to be populated with all the great things that are happening for this demographic," Leahy said.
The website came after examining the results of a 2013 diocesan-wide survey of young adults. A grant from the Catholic Youth Foundation allowed the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministry to create a "digital outreach to young adults."
The site has been under construction for about a year, and is designed to be inviting to young adults while not overly heavy with traditional religious imagery. A focus group helped design it. They wanted to show the beauty of God's work instead of the beauty of church carpentry and religious icons.
"We talked to young adults and tried to pick color schemes and imagery that was invitational to create a less intimidating environment, while still being authentically Catholic," said Leahy. "When people get there and poke around people will see it is authentically Catholic, but in a more New Evangelization kind of tone."
The focus group process involved a small group of young adults looking at the New York City website, which served as a model for Buffalo.
"We were going over questions that young people might have questions on stuff they could do to relate to their faith," said Laura DeMizio, a member of the focus group. "We were talking about how younger people in their 20s and 30s don't go to church every Sunday and there are other ways to practice your faith."
As the mother of a 3-month-old son, attending Church is not always possible, so DeMizio seeks other ways to stay connected and get closer to God. She finds the site appealing and modern looking.
"Sarah showed it to me when it was all put together, and I though it was absolutely fabulous," said DeMizio, 29. "It appealed to the younger age group. It looked nothing like what we have here in the diocese."
A social media and marketing plan surrounding the site will soon be added to support parishes, campus ministries, and young adult ministries to literally take the Word to the streets and invite others in.
Leahy asks that parishes share the website in their bulletins, use the resources when working with young adults and post events designs specifically for those in their 20s and 30s on the calendar.