For 22-year-old Evelyn Moreira, who coordinates food sale fundraisers for the young adult ministry group at St. Agnes Church, Los Angeles, being actively involved in parish ministry for the past three years has been both spiritually rewarding and personally fulfilling. But in addition to enjoying social events, the young adults in her group are regularly involved in service work throughout the year — providing food for the homeless, organizing local community clean-up efforts, and holding yearly concerts to raise funds for select non-profit organizations, most recently for the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles.“We’re brothers and sisters, we really are,” said Moreira of her fellow group members, who were all recently honored at the 17th annual “Celebrating Young Adults in Ministry” Mass on Nov. 16 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.“I think this event today has made us stronger and has given us more drive and passion to move forward in our ministry,” she told The Tidings after the service.Hundreds of young adults, primarily in their 20s and 30s, from all regions of the archdiocese were on hand for the afternoon Mass, which celebrates young adult Catholics who are involved in different parish ministries. This year 464 young adults were nominated by their fellow parishioners to receive certificates of recognition for the myriad contributions they make to their faith communities.“It’s wonderful that we are here together to honor you, our young adult ministers from our parishes of the archdiocese, and to recognize [your] gifts — [gifts] you have used in very positive and wonderful ways, continuing to build up the body of Christ, because you are ministers of Christ himself,” said Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson in his welcoming remarks. “We offer this celebration this afternoon in gratitude for each of you, that you may continue to be God’s instruments for good, [and] continue to bring the son of God, Jesus himself, into the lives of the people [you serve].”According to Precious Blood Father Joe Grilliot, a young adult associate pastor at St. Agnes Church, “the church needs us young adults to keep growing.”“Thank goodness we have so many active young adults in our parish,” added Father Grilliot. “I’m so grateful for them, for their energy and their enthusiasm.”Ivonne Garcia, involved in the young adult group at Holy Cross Church, Los Angeles, said she felt drawn to become active in parish ministries (including liturgy) “to give back a little of what God gives us in abundance.” But in addition to providing her a platform for “giving back,” the parish ministries Garcia works with have helped her through some difficult periods in her life as well.“Since arriving to this country from Mexico as a teenager — alone, without my family — becoming involved with the church ministries at Holy Cross has helped me so much; I know that I am not alone,” said Garcia, who described her fellow Holy Cross parishioners and parish ministry members as her surrogate family.For Julia Hernandez, young adult ministry coordinator at Holy Cross, the annual Young Adults in Ministry Mass “made me feel so happy, because this event recognizes the work that we do every week, and that motivates me to keep going and to encourage more young adults to become involved in what we do.”That includes an upcoming parish concert on Dec. 14, “Atrevete a Sembrar Amor” (“Dare to Sow Love”), which will collect toys (in lieu of admission fees), which will be distributed to local needy families for Christmas.Douglas Leal, coordinator of Young Adult Ministry for the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education, described the annual event as an “exciting” way to acknowledge and encourage young adults in leadership roles in parish communities.“I think the strength of this annual event is fact that young adults can come together and be with hundreds of other young adults who are also helping in their communities,” said Leal. “Some may feel that they are the only ones, so it’s a very affirming experience to be in a cathedral full of people like themselves.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1122/youngadult/{/gallery}