Young Adult Group at St. Michael Parish a Great Example

We all need a little nudge sometimes to step out of our comfort zone, but when we do the rewards can yield endless blessings.

That is exactly what Emma Romanek a life-long parishioner at St. Michael Parish in Wheeling is experiencing.

Romanek, a sixth-grade teacher at Triadelphia Middle School in Wheeling, was instrumental in starting the Saint Michael Parish Young Adult Faith Formation Group.

“It’s a long sort of fancy title for a group of people in our 20s and 30s, who are also Catholic and are having a good time getting together.”

Faith has always been a priority for Romanek and her family. She St. Michael Parish School from preschool to fifth grade, and then the parish school or religion when she attended public middle and high schools. As a student at West Liberty University, Romanek took advantage of fun and inspiring activities, speaker presentations, book clubs, a bible study and more that were planned by Campus Minister Shirley Carter.

It is during those years of your life when you enter your 20s, when you feel pretty independent, and your choices steer your journey in faith, Romanek said.

“Some choose to leave their faith, others live it,” she said. “Regardless of whether that decision is made daily or long term, God is always there.”

She is grateful for her upbringing to know that. However, she never really thought about being the one to step up to be in a position to steer her peers on a faith journey.

Three events inspired Romanek to initiate a young adult group at her parish and Catholic peers from other area parishes: first, the isolation and void of Covid; second, the Synod listening sessions, reflecting on how to be a better Church; and third, a nudge from older adults at St. Michael’s who encouraged her to try and make a casual, fun, and motivating young Catholic adult group a reality.

“It obvious in every parish that we need something for young adults,” she said. “There are a number of strong youth ministry groups, but those of us in our 20s and 30s are too old for that and many of our age group think they’re too young or because of our jobs too busy for other groups.”

Through word of mouth and announcements at Mass and in the bulletin, the group began meeting in May for socials with a purpose.

Whether a half a dozen or 30 people show up, the gatherings are successful and filling a great need to build up the Church and help young adults see that diving deeper in their faith does not have to be intimidating or unnatural, she said, adding, “We get together and have fun, pray with and for each other, and appreciate spending time with like-minded people. The world can get crazy and so negative, why not choose to get together with your peers and pick each other up while growing in faith at the same time?”

She hopes the St. Michael’s group can spark other parishes and groups of parishes to do the same.

“We have to take ownership of our faith,” she said. “If all we are doing is going to Mass and then home with no other focus on learning or growing or how we can strengthen our circles then it’s our own fault if our Catholic faith is boring.”

Wholeheartedly agreeing with Romanek, Nick Chancey the director of youth and young adult discipleship for the diocese, said, “The need to have groups for young adults is crucial for the Church. We all say we want younger people to stay Catholic and be involved, but we have to be there to support, encourage, and help jump start programs and activities for them.”

Having a group to be part of is huge, Chancey said. “It doesn’t have to be some formal, stuffy affair with a lot of pressure on just one person to organize. It doesn’t even have to be an absolute grand slam with every seat filled.”

However, it does take a little effort, a warm welcome, and personal invitations, aka nudges, but that is what Chancey’s office has been established to support.

He said group’s like the one Romanek has helped initiate are a great example of evangelization in the most casual and natural way, “getting together with your peers, making friends, sharing, and of course strengthen each other’s faith in the process.”

Talking to pastors, Catholic groups, and campus ministers across the state Chancey shares, “Data tells us that young people, now more than ever, need authentic Christian friendships and mentors. We need less ‘programs’ and more leaders in our communities who are willing to go out… and be the hands and feet of Christ for them. Pope Francis said it best, ‘Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries, but rather that we are always missionary disciples.’”

For more information on the young adult group at St. Michaels contact Romanek at:

For more information on supporting a young adult group in your parish contact Chancey at or (304)-233-0880.