Steve Klemm, a member of the YAM advisory board for several years, explains that YAM is a ministry of the Office for Catechesis/Ministry to Youth and Young Adults. “YAM aims to bridge the gap that young adults often experience with the church between high school and when they start a family,” says Klemm. “We also prepare young adults for future parish life.
“We focus on three main aspects: community service, faith formation and social. We want our young adults to live their faith, enrich their faith, and spend time with others who share their faith,” says Klemm, who is a 28-year-old Springfield-based real estate broker and Realtor. “And we have a lot of fun in the process.”
Klemm says YAM has over 200 registered members and continues to have new people getting involved in the ministry. “Actually our numbers stay surprisingly steady throughout the year,” he says. “We have college kids home for the summer or break that start attending again, but during the school year we have those attending our local colleges back at YAM.”
Andrew Hansen, an active member of YAM, agrees that besides attending 8 p.m. Sunday Mass together at the Catholic Pastoral Center, it is important that the young adults (most age 18 to somewhere in their 30s) strive to learn more about their faith.
“We are also involved in faith formation,” says Hansen, who many recognize from his work as a reporter for WICS Newschannel 20. “Last fall and spring we participated in Why Catholic?. This fall we will be starting the popular series Theology on Tap.” Klemm is the chair of the Theology on Tap committee and says he hopes it will be in place by late October.
Hansen says that young adults form a natural camaraderie not only celebrating Mass together, but gathering for some snacks after Mass and working together to help others in the community. “We participate in many social events throughout the year like bowling night, cookouts, and a bonfire, Springfield Sliders Night at the ball field and board game night.
“We do many service projects as well,” he says. “We have helped pack medical supplies for the missions, had a diaper and baby supply drive, a canned food drive, we participate in SHG Works, we volunteered for St. Patrick Catholic School with various projects, and we sponsored students at St. Patrick Catholic School by paying for school supplies.”
“Ideally, we try to have some type of community service project each month. However, sometimes it is difficult to get something organized each and every month and really put our ‘all’ into it,” says Klemm. “So we aim for ‘quality over quantity.’ Sometimes, we decide as a board on what projects we should try to incorporate into our ministry over the course of the year. Other times, we simply call up organizations that we have worked with in the past and try to put together some type of a drive to benefit that charity and the people who rely on them for help.”
Late this summer, Hansen served as chairperson for the YAM mini-golf tournament at Knight’s Action Park in Springfield. In all 78 golfers signed up for the tournament that raised $751 for charity. Msgr. John Ossola, one of the regular YAM Mass celebrants, took part in the tournament, as the golfer for the ‘Beat the Priest’ hole.
“I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends at this unique event and knowing that the proceeds will be going to needy charities is very cool,” said Rachel Glisson, one of the golfers.
Another golfer, Heather Hubbs, says she had a great time at the tournament. “This is my second year of competing and I enjoy the good times with good friends for a good cause,” she said. “I even got a hole in one on the first hole, which was awesome.”
Hansen says no charity has been decided for this year’s event, but last year the golfers raised $650 and sent cash donations to St. Patrick Catholic School and Catholic Charities.
Whether they are invited by someone or come to Mass on their own, newcomers are welcomed at YAM, Klemm says. “We don’t have a welcoming committee per se, but our advisory board members stick around after each and every Mass to welcome newcomers and encourage them to get involved in some form or fashion.
“It’s really important to make them feel welcome because if they don’t feel that, they won’t be back,” he says. “I remember going to the first few Masses when YAM first started (in February 2008) and how tough it was to meet new people. Because of that, I try to make sure I talk to every newcomer and introduce them to other regulars. Our other advisory board members do the same.”
“As for me, YAM has been such a blessing,” Hansen concludes. “For someone who loves my faith, it is so encouraging to be around other young adults who share my same passion. To be able to develop my faith, continue to learn my faith, and practice my faith with people who are like me, makes YAM a fantastic experience.
“Since I am originally not from here, having an avenue to meet solid people, who care about Catholicism and its values, meant a lot,” says Hansen, who comes from Joliet. “I have developed great friendships because of YAM. It has certainly made a very positive difference in my spiritual life and life away from church.”
For more information on YAM, contact Kyle Holtgrave in the Office for Catechesis at (217) 698-8500, ext. 154 or go to www.SpringfieldYAM.com.