By ANN BLASICK, Special Contributor | Published March 4, 2004
Before you start reading this article, you need to learn a few acronyms:
YAM = Young Adult Ministry
CTK = Christ the King
NYAM = Northside YAM
ACS = Atlanta Catholic Sports
OK, now you’ve got the vocabulary!
I was at CTK Singles’ monthly meeting on the third Sunday in January. I try to go each month with my stack of YAM calendars ready to hand out. Single young adults come down to the school cafeteria after 5:30 p.m. Mass to mingle, eat cheese cubes, and find out about upcoming events. I handed a copy of the yellow January YAM calendar to two girls as they walked into the meeting. They looked at me in confusion and asked what YAM was.
This question has become the focal point of my existence. I proceeded to have what can only be called a very humorous, cyclical and confusing conversation that went something like this (If they’re reading this, I want them to know that I’m using our conversation as one example of many similar conversations that I’ve had in the past two years of doing this job):
Them: “What’s YAM?”
Me: “YAM is an office of the archdiocese. We plan events for young adults, 19-40, single and married.”
Them: “But I thought this was CTK Singles.”
Me: “It is. CTK Singles plans lots of great events for single young adults here at CTK. YAM plans additional events for young adults throughout the archdiocese.”
Them: “So, this is a calendar of YAM events?”
Me: “Yep, YAM and CTK events and events hosted by other parishes.”
Them: I think this is where I lost them because they asked: “So what’s this meeting for tonight?”
Me: “This is a CTK meeting. YAM doesn’t have monthly meetings. We host different events each month for young adults from CTK or any parish.”
Them: “So these are all CTK people?”
Me: “Yes, but a lot of them come to YAM events too . . .”
Eventually we gave up on the conversation, and they thanked me for the YAM calendar and confusing explanation. So let me try again.
YAM is an office of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We fall under the Department of Religious Education. Our director is Kersti O’Farrell, and I am the program coordinator. Our office was founded in 1996 by Janice Murphy (now Janice Murphy Givens) to bring young adults closer to Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church and one another through social, spiritual and service events. The first YAM office was a converted closet in the Catholic Center located at 680 W. Peachtree St. in Midtown. Janice’s infectious love for making things happen, for our Catholic faith, and for young adults made YAM grow quickly. Before you could say ‘young adult ministry’ 10 times, she had programs such as the “Thank God It’s First Friday!” Mass and socials, “Theology On Tap” and “Holy Grounds” up and running.
Since then many programs have been added including REVIVE, Spin Dating, retreats, monthly service projects, Catholicism 101, “Ask Father Anything” nights and women’s teas. We now have real offices on the seventh floor of the Wachovia Building at 615 Peachtree St.
YAM doesn’t have dues or monthly meetings. We have an e-mail list that anyone can sign up for by visiting our Web site, www.yam.org. Currently over 3,000 people are subscribed. Some of our events draw upwards of 300-1,000 people while others draw only a handful.
Even before the YAM Office was in existence, there were parish and organizational young adult groups. Today there are over 30 parish and organizational YAM groups including CTK Singles, ACS, Spirit & Truth, St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Lourdes, Young Adult Respect Life and NYAM. One of our goals is to network these groups together and publicize their events so that young adults have one information source for the variety of opportunities that are available throughout the archdiocese.
God is doing amazing things in Atlanta! We are among the top five diocesan YAMs in the nation in terms of paid full-time staff, frequency of programming, and audience reached. We are remarkably blessed with a very vibrant young adult faith community.
If you’re not involved, we hope you decide to check it out. And if you are involved and have never lived anywhere else, then you may not realize how lucky we are. I moved here from New Jersey. The parish I attended didn’t even have an occasional monthly coffee and doughnut social after Mass. Here there’s literally a different young adult event every night of the week. There have been so many instances when I’ve had to pause in the middle of an event to thank God for this faith community.
If you have any questions about YAM, please feel free to contact me at (404) 885-7222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Blasick is program coordinator for the YAM Office of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.