Millennial Catholics: Meet Jennifer Riturban, 37

Jennifer Riturban is from Good Shepherd Parish in Elk Grove. She is a benefit analyst and involved with Singles for Christ. She also serves as a catechist at her parish.

There have been joyful times, confusing times, frustrating times – especially in my early young adult life. I was going through the motions and I wasn’t fully participating in the church. A high school retreat helped me to understand God and my prayer life, but as far as fully embracing the fullness of the church, it didn’t happen until my late 20s.

I was invited to Singles for Christ’s formation program to rekindle the spark in my faith. It helped me to return to the sacrament of reconciliation after a decade. I was encouraged and challenged by this sacrament of healing. The Holy Spirit was helping me to serve the church better.

A lot of young adults may not have the courage or understanding of what God is calling them to do. It’s hard to get them involved. It is like they are “faith impaired.”

It’s helpful and encouraging to have people mentor you and once you get young adults to church, so much can happen. Inviting them is what’s important. Whether the individual accepts the invitation – well, that’s on that person, but God always finds different avenues to call people.

In a prayer group with my sisters in Singles for Christ we were going over the Gospel and the reflection question was “What is God calling you to do?” When it was my turn to share, I responded “to teach.” My peers encouraged me and checked back and that is how I got involved as a catechist.

With Jesus and for Jesus you can do anything. Our new youth minister asked me to serve on the core team support, encouraging the team members to also serve as a lector or eucharistic minister. I chose to lector because I enjoy reading the Word of God.

After reading at Mass, a former catechist whom I had assisted came up and said she was so happy for me. It was extremely encouraging. I think if people can simply be informal mentors to young adults – show them where things are, invite them and encourage them – they will take the next steps. That’s what happened to me. Others told me “we need you,” and God showed me what to do.

How easy it may be to defer to labels and blanket definitions to understand people. The complexity of the human mind warrants a summed-up assessment of generational groupings, doesn’t it? Not so fast. Danger lurks in this approach for the simple fact, that it may prompt a dismissing attitude at the least, and close-minded denial at worst.

Catholic Herald magazine talked with “millennials” -- young adults born between 1980 and 2000 – about their Catholic faith. The Pew Research Center goes further and refers to “younger” and “older” millennials. Birth year aside, all represent the promise of the Catholic Church, deserving of time, attention and intentional listening. Here they share what’s on their minds; candidly, wistfully and bluntly. Cradle Catholics and converts, their faith stories, experiences and longings paint a vivid picture of the body of Christ – emerging adults in love with their faith, in love with Christ and each on an authentic journey to heaven.

Catholic Herald Issue