Parishioners of St. Benedict's received a warm welcome from a group of young adults last month. Members of Dynamis WNY, a New Evangelization effort inspired by St. John Paul II, greeted those who entered the Eggertsville church as part of the group's hospitality effort.
St. Ben's hosted the first Mass for Dynamis WNY, which in turn offered a reception for anyone interested in knowing a bit more about the Catholic faith, offering donuts and coffee along with information tables on St. John Paul II and vocations. Group members manned another table to answer questions about Catholic traditions.
Maria Suchyna, a 19-year-old currently studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, started the effort as an outlet for young adults to come together and give back to the diocese. Other groups, such as Frassati WNY and [re] Called By God, help educate the mind and spirit of young adults. Dynamis serves the larger community.
Suchyna dreamt up the idea at Mercy Hour on Holy Thursday.
"This idea sprang from my head," said Suchyna, a parishioner of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Harris Hill. "We're lacking, in many of our churches, this hospitality, this fellowship, and I also noticed that a lot of our parishes are missing this young adults ministry. We're not utilizing the gifts and the talents of our young adults in our Buffalo community. We have young adult groups like [re] and Frassati, but those are to educate us and to inform us and to teach us how to love Christ more, where Dynamis is about us going out. Our goal is to go out into different church communities and evangelize and bring passion to the different churches and people that we come to."
Suchyna discussed the idea with her friend Allie Herian, who joined as a core member.
"Initially, what I wanted to see happen was that we bring ("a joyful presence," Herian interjected) together and accompany the parishes at their Mass once a month. Our goal was to bring fellowship to that community. Our goal was to show every audience, whether young or old, that they have gifts also that can be used in their parishes, that they have an opportunity for a personal relationship with Jesus. We wanted to show them our relationship with Jesus, that fire within us."
The core team of seven members, along with an extended family of 60, plan to organize a reception at a different parish one Sunday per month, offering information, hospitality and the spark to ignite a love of the faith in others. It is an example of intentional discipleship, which Bishop Richard J. Malone has written about often in his monthly Western New York Catholic column. Bishop Malone has given his blessing to the group.
"We are looking for things to grow," said Suchyna. "Mankind, we are always looking to improve. We are always looking for ways to better ourselves. Even as young adults, sometimes people might not think so, but we are at our most passionate phase in life."
Kyle Gorlick, co-coordinator for the group, said it is young adults who have the energy and passion to be want and make change in society.
"It's the age of activism. It's the age of people giving out social justice. So, I always think about the way Jesus witnessed to people and the order in which it happens," Gorlick said.
"Everyone longs for something to live for and give their whole heart to," said Sarah Rice, 21, who handles the music ministry for the group. "I think Jesus wants our entire heart and not just a piece of it. He wants people who are on fire and not just lukewarm. I don't think people can argue with a life changed by Jesus. People cannot ignore the glow they see in someone changed by Him."
The name comes indirectly from Acts 1:8: "You will receive a power from the Holy Spirit." The Greek word for power is dunamis, which is also the root of dynamic and dynamite. The group hopes to have a wide and explosive effect on the Church.
"This is about great and mighty deeds for God for His greater good," said Suchyna.
The core group meets once a week, with the extended family helping out whenever they can, so its participation fits into the busy, always on the go young adult lifestyle. They plan to visit six parishes over six months, then revisit them as a follow up and to maintain that relationship. "The whole thing is about growing a sense of community, vigor for our faith, and having local communities be connected," said Gorlick, adding that all core members come from different parishes.
They make it clear that the parish receptions are for everyone.
"I had a couple parents come down and ask, 'Are we not supposed to be here because we're not between 18 and 30?' That's not what it's about," Gorlick said. "It's by young adults, for everyone in the parish community."
The next Dynamis WNY Mass will be held Sunday, Nov. 27 at St. Mary's Parish in Swormville. Mass will begin at 9 a.m. and a reception will follow at 10 a.m.
They can be followed on Facebook at Dynamiswny.