“Working in witness for Christ”—this is the mission of the Young Catholic Professionals (YCP), a nonprofit dedicated to connecting and engaging young adults and working professionals in the Church.
Officially launched in 2010 as a national organization in Dallas, YCP has recruited hundreds of local and national members over 9 chapters across the US, and is continuing to grow in major cities. Last fall, spearheaded by an active leadership team and board of directors, the organization started its first California chapter in the heart of Orange County.
“We’re trying to fill the gap that is important and necessary for Catholics in the 20-40 age range, where it’s really hard to find groups and events,” said YCP Orange County Chapter President, Monika Bik. “We want to create a community for young Catholic adults to come together, network, and support one another, especially in the working field.”
With the guidance of Catholic business entrepreneur and attorney Tim Busch, Bik and her team of young, working professionals got in touch with the national YCP office to get the ball rolling on starting a new chapter in Orange County. After a few months of formation and training, YCP held its kick-off event at Christ Cathedral last December.
“Orange County is one of the most Catholic [counties] in the country. It’s amazing how many active youth and young adults we have here,” Bik said. “We had around 200 people come to the kick-off event, to see what [YCP] is all about, and every event since at least half the room is new. It’s like starting a new business, and we’re trying to see how to cater to this age group and environment.”
The YCP’s business plan includes regular “Happy Hour” networking events, monthly executive speaker series, and twice-a-year spiritual retreats, through the inspiration and intercession of St. Joseph the Worker, the organization’s patron saint.
True to its vision of reflection and prayer in the busy working world, YCP leaders read aloud the prayer of St. Joseph the Worker at the conclusion of every event. It serves as a reminder to see all forms of work, with patience and perseverance, as humble Christian labor in building the church.
“We live in such a fast-paced, secular world where it’s hard to talk about issues and developments in the workplace while staying true to your faith, and understanding how to work with that,” said Bik. “The spirituality aspect is really unique.”
Alanzo Moreno, communications leader for the group said, “There isn’t an organization quite like YCP, catered to young adults. It’s hard to find something of this nature that isn’t secular, or for youth, but is also professionally minded. I want to network with people of my faith; I can do that here.”
Caitlin Krasovic agreed. “As a practicing Catholic, I’m always looking for more ways to get involved,” she said. “That’s when I heard about YCP and started to come. There’s not very many networking groups for Catholic singles or people my age, so it’s a great opportunity.”
Members of YCP represent diverse companies and industries, and all hail from different parishes in cities throughout the county.
“We’re not here to replace bible study groups, or youth and young adult groups in other parishes. We’re here to connect people across the parishes, and bring attention to other groups’ events, as one Church,” Bik explained. “People have been telling me that they’ve been looking for this, and wanting to connect with other Catholic [young adults], and it brings so much joy to my heart. To unite people under one common ground, with Christ. It’s been amazing.”
On April 20, senior marketing businessman Ron Coughlin shared valuable insight with YCP, as part of the monthly Executive Speaker Series held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Irvine. Young professionals—dressed in appropriate business attire—gathered in the church hall for the evening fellowship, talk, complimentary wine and snacks.
“How you view things is how you do things,” Coughlin shared. As an agency executive, Coughlin has worked with top brands including Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, and KRAFT Foods. He spoke to young adults about perspective, viewing marriage as lifelong commitment for the good of the other person, and what it means to be an effective and prayerful leader.
“You never know what kind of impact you will have on people, so always believe the best for them,” Coughlin said, “and be easy to follow. It is your followers that really help to create the movement…think about Jesus. He created the radical platform of Christianity; His followers created the movement.”
Coughlin also challenged YCP leaders and members to change their perspectives (in order to change results), and to make a daily commitment to prayer.
“What’s important about events and groups like these, is that if you can walk away with one actionable insight—I call them golden nuggets—that’s a good thing,” he said. “I hope to provide these little nuggets that you can apply to your life, and those are the fruits of these speaker series events.”
The networking event also began with prayer and reflection, led by YCP Chaplain Fr. Andrew Bartus, who called upon all young adults to the worldwide mission of “baptizing and making disciples of all nations.”
“My favorite part was that we start and end with prayer, which is so important, and it just puts everything all together,” said Joanna Coleman, a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who heard about the event through her church. “The speaker was also so funny and engaging. I got so much out of the talk. After this night, I’m looking to become active with YCP.”
“It’s a great environment to meet people, Catholics and those who are just getting introduced to their faith. The extra networking and wine help too,” said Michael Garcia from St. Vincent de Paul in Huntington Beach. “You easily flow into the talk; hear mentors’ wisdom and advice. I also love how diverse the group is, from married couples to single millennials…the future is not all about being a professional with a job. It’s also about your vocation.”
“There is definitely a need for this kind of group,” agreed Michael Beier from Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) in Newport Beach. “Throughout high school and college, there are always groups and activities, but when you reach a certain working age, it’s almost like you’re on your own. But having a space to connect with active Catholics is so important. You go to networking things and sometimes it feels so shallow; here, you really connect to people.”
Added Louisa Feletto from OLQA, “I’m always looking for after-work events to go to, and I love that this is Catholic-based. I’ve been active with young adults and leadership in my church, but having a professional networking aspect to it is something that we have been looking for. Sometimes it’s hard to attend, with all of our different schedules, but it’s been amazing to see [YCP] continuing to grow since the first event.”
The next Young Catholic Professionals’ Executive Speaker Series event is happening Wednesday, May 18th, 7:00 PM at the Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove, featuring Tim Busch. Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1067192930004019/