Advertisements ad

April 12, 2009

Young adults find ‘Spirit and Truth’

By Father Matt Gamber, S.J.


Spirit and Truth, a new young-adult ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago, is more than just Thursday night meetings where talks, discussion and socializing take place each week. Spirit and Truth is a “way of life,” according to Michael Sullivan, director of mission advancement at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Stanislaus Kostka Parish where the gatherings take place.

The center of Spirit and Truth is communal eucharistic adoration where young adults join together in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It is an old devotion finding new life in a new generation of believers.

Sullivan started the Chicago group that brings together about two dozen young adults in their 20s and 30s each week. There are Spirit and Truth groups in several Illinois dioceses.

Sullivan said that Spirit and Truth gatherings are trying to help young adults of Chicago to live out the church’s teaching that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of our faith according to the Second Vatican Council.”

“It is Christ’s action alive in our group that is making it come together,” Sullivan said. The group’s name is taken from chapter four of the Gospel of John, where Jesus told the Samaritan women that “the hour is coming … when they will worship in spirit and Truth.”

Georgia beginnings

The first Spirit and Truth group started at a parish in Atlanta in 2001. The idea has since spread to dozens of parishes and college campuses throughout the country.

The first group in Illinois met in 2006 in the western suburbs and from there it migrated by word of mouth to Chicago’s North Side in October 2008.

The basic format at each of the Spirit and Truth chapters is the same throughout the country. A brief opening that includes some sort of ice breaker, followed by a guest speaker for 20 minutes on themes related to the Eucharist and the church, then about 40 minutes of eucharistic adoration, concluding with group reflection and then time for socializing.

Past speakers have included Dominican Father Jordan Kelly, director of the archdiocese’s Office for Evangelization and the local chaplain of Spirit and Truth, Franciscan Father Bob Lombardo of Our Lady of the Angels Mission and Father Ramil Fajardo from St. Clement Parish.

Father Matthew Talarico of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest spoke in February. Not all speakers at Spirit and Truth gatherings are priests. A laywoman, Brooke Georgion, recently spoke on the communion of saints and her particular devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux.

The national mission statement of Spirit and Truth states that the plan of the group is “to bring young adults into relationship with Christ through worship of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, study of church teachings and Scripture and celebrations of Catholic traditions, while forming a community of life-giving relationship.” Members of the Chicago group say they are finding this mission coming alive in their own meetings.

‘Time for peace’

Anne Pellettieri, 25, lives in Wheeling and works for Misericordia but makes time on Thursday nights to attend Spirit and Truth in the city.

“I love it. It is a good and diverse group of people,” she said. She particularly loves the quiet that the communal adoration it offers. “Rarely do I get time for peace. It is a time to listen to what God has to say to me,” Pellettieri said, “too often I am talking in prayer. This is a good time for me to listen.”

She hopes to see a Spirit and Truth group started closer to her home in the northwest suburbs.

Another member of the Chicago group is Josh Jastrebski, 24, who lives in the city and works as an investment analyst in suburban Northfield. He has been attending the Thursday night sessions for a few months and plans to continue. “It’s good to be with a group of young, adult Catholics that has a vibrant faith life,” Jastrebski said.

He finds that socializing grows out of the shared faith and prayer which is the real focus of the evenings. “It is so Christcentered,” he said. “That is what draws me back, the adoration and the group discussion which is so focused on God. We are not there just to socialize, but that happens as sidelight to the main purpose of the group.”

Joel Wecker, 27, is headed to medical school in the fall and said he likes the group for its simplicity and its community. “I believe Spirit and Truth’s strongest point is in its simplicity,” he said, “the opportunity to grow closer to God and to do this in a community is amazingly strong, because it allows us to vocalize our experience, and in doing so we get to search deeper into what God is working through adoration.

Wecker also said, “It can be a great way to meet young Catholics and to grow in faith.”

More information on Spirit and Truth at the Sanctuary is available at, and