Brian Holdsworth converted to the Catholic Church about seven years ago. A negative consequence was that he lost old friends who either did not understand or approve of his conversion. New to the Church, he did not immediately have any Catholic friends either.
"It was a real shock, a culture shock, to not have any friends around me all of a sudden, and not have any community around me anymore," said Holdsworth.
In response, he eventually started a group called The Point, to encourage young adults to socialize and explore their faith together.
The Point, which started in Holdsworth's home three years ago, is an official archdiocesan young adult ministry, now based at St. Joseph's Basilica. The group meets in O'Leary Hall on the second Friday of the month, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The group's mission is to expose young adults, 18 to 35, to the Catholic faith by providing worship, community and catechesis in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. It aims to educate, encourage and inspire young Catholics with the beauty of the Catholic faith.
Many young adults, whether raised Catholic or not, turn away from the Church, especially during their university years when new influences pull them away. The Point aims to bring them back.
"Some of your friends stay in the Church, and some of them go, so you're looking for ways to connect again," said Lyndsey Ferguson, who has been with The Point since its inception.
"It can be hard because not very many 20 and 30-year-olds have a faith necessarily. Even for those who do, it's hard to connect," Ferguson said. "It's part of our culture, I guess, living with individualism and consumption, and it pulls us apart."
Prior to joining the Catholic Church, Holdsworth went "church shopping," trying to figure out where he fit. He attended Mass at a Catholic parish, but then socialized at evangelical churches, drawn to those churches with a flourishing young adult community.
After much prayer and discernment, Holdsworth became Catholic, believing that if he called himself Catholic, he should be an advocate for young adult ministry in the Church.
Ferguson agreed. "When we heard this speaker at the Protestant church, we were getting something from him, but at the same time it felt like something was missing," she said.
While Holdsworth believed the Catholic Church is the fullest expression of Christian faith, his experience was that nothing was being done to make the intricacies of being Catholic accessible to non-Catholics or those curious about the Church.
He had to figure everything out on his own because no one explained the ins and outs of the Mass.
"Mass was held behind closed doors, and anybody who wasn't Catholic - and I say this from my own experience - attending Mass for the first time was really uncomfortable," said Holdsworth.
"I didn't understand it, didn't know the responses, and at the parish they weren't doing anything to accommodate people like me."
For those young people interested in Catholicism, he does not want intimidation and confusion to be obstacles in their way of exploring what the Church has to offer.
The Point helped serve that purpose, providing a place where young adults could be introduced to Catholic Christianity on a casual basis, and perhaps encourage them to take part in the RCIA.
"I had gotten married and was living in my own home, and decided that I was just going to start hosting a night for young adults at my house," said Holdsworth. "I would lead in music and prayer, and other people would help. We would talk about faith matters."
The group garnered attention and many people wanted to attend. But Holdsworth was running out of space. The Point started meeting at the basilica in February 2008.
An evening at The Point typically involves a band leading praise and worship, catechesis with a guest speaker and a question-and-answer period. It concludes with fellowship, snacks and coffee.
The Point promotes itself with modern marketing tools such as a website, printed materials, Facebook and compelling speakers. The guests hand out business cards, inviting other young adults to attend.
"The business cards and promotion are designed to be relevant to our culture in style and approach. It makes people take a second look when their expectations are chipped away a little bit by something that they didn't expect from the Church," said Holdsworth.
Between 80 and 100 people attend each night. The guest speaker at the Nov. 12 get-together was Father Mike Mireau, the group's spiritual leader.
"Like Father Mike was talking about, it's a Holy Spirit thing. If something is on your heart, you have to follow it," said Ferguson.
"You don't necessarily understand the reasons for it or why. It's just something you know you have to do. Sometimes there are those elements of blind faith."