Over the last several months, we connected with just a few young adults who have found a home in an Emmaus group. We asked them about their stories of how they joined Emmaus groups, why they make their group a priority with many daily obstacles, and why they would recommend YOU join a group! Find inspiration and hear their stories below!
“Emmaus was crucial in finding people who longed to put God and Christ first in their life”
Transitioning into the Catholic Church was harder than I imagined. It wasn’t the new books in the Bible, it wasn’t the Mass, it wasn’t anything dogmatic at all. Rather I just felt like everything I had learned and taken in about the Christian life was wrong or at the very least misguided. Emmaus helped me by putting me into contact with other men who were both converts and cradles. I found that everything I brought to the table was still valid. In fact, becoming a Catholic transfigured my knowledge, gave it the context it sorely needed.
Emmaus was crucial in finding people who longed to put God and Christ first in their life, something my Protestant imagination could never have conceived!
My biggest fear—one based in the fears of others—was that Catholics didn’t care about the Bible and that I would have to go about reading it without community. Luckily I was very wrong. Scripture is at the center of Emmaus and that really helped to ground me in the truth of the Catholic Church.
“We are there to support each other in difficult times, and we share in joyful times.”
I joined an Emmaus group when I moved to St. Louis, after finishing graduate school. During college, I was in a Bible study. When I graduated, I missed the fellowship of meeting regularly with a group of girls who were all striving for holiness. I knew that through an Emmaus group I would meet other young women, and I could also grow in my faith.
Joining my group has been life-giving. We meet every other week for both social time and faith discussion. We have read different books of the Bible, read about saints, and spiritual books.
Over the past two years, my group has grown together. We are there to support each other in difficult times, and we share in joyful times.
We also have deepened our faith together. We inspire one other, and we keep each other accountable. For example, one girl started a 54-day rosary novena. But the end, almost all of us had joined in.
I think everyone should join an Emmaus group! At the very least, you will meet new people. I have found an Emmaus group is a huge help for accountability. Maybe you’ll find inspiration to grow in your faith!
“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
I went to a Theology on Tap in January of 2018, knowing that I really wanted to dive deeper with my faith in the new year. I wasn’t necessarily seeking out a small group, but I was open to something, anything. Had it not been for the encouragement of Angela at the welcome table, I may not have signed up to join an Emmaus group so quickly, but she jumped on it and connected me with the leader of a CWE/Delmar Emmaus group. Despite attending Catholic school and going to church my entire life, I had never been part of a small group bible study so I knew that a deeper understanding of scripture and female faith fellowship was missing from my life and the way to achieve both would be to join an Emmaus group.
I did not expect to find a group of women of such committed faith who were so open to my friendship when joining an Emmaus group and getting more involved in the STLYA community. I’m a transplant from New York so I don’t have childhood friends in the area like those who grew up here – I had to start fresh. The special thing about Emmaus groups is that by being vulnerable in my faith, faults and struggles, I’ve connected deeply to women who are doing the same – women who are striving for holiness and keeping each other accountable in encouraging and gentle ways. Yes, I would absolutely say that I found my faith as an adult with the help of my Emmaus group (and Discipulus classes). And after taking the small group leader training, I felt confident enough to co-lead a pretty intense Lenten study this past year. We got very deep and asked some hard questions of ourselves. It was wonderful and humbling to be trusted with that responsibility by my group members and friends.
In my experience, I’ve found it hard to grow in solitude. It’s true that so many of the saints absolutely did, but I thrive in community. I think the Emmaus group format is set up for people like me, people who are enabled to flourish when they can connect with others about their shared faith.
And just the amount of love and support you get in a faith community can be so inspiring. Walking into a Discipulus class, Theology on Tap event or one of the many volunteering opportunities organized by those in the STLYA community, you can feel a very palpable joy in the room. “Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
“The main reason I struggled so much is because I was doing it alone.”
After going to World Youth Day in January, one of the people on the trip invited me to join an Emmaus group. I didn’t know too much about them, but I figured it would be a good way to make friends, and an opportunity to discuss important issues within the Church. The first week we did just that: talking about the very difficult issue of homosexuality, and how to reach out to those who do identify as gay, and show them that the Church’s teaching on the subject is one of love, not hate. Coincidentally, this was one of the biggest issues with the Church that I struggled with. But after going through the videos, hearing real life examples of gay men and women who chose to follow the Church and found real joy, not just fleeting happiness, suddenly the Church’s stance made much more sense. Not only that, but then we had personal discussions on how to reach out to gay friends in our life, to talk about this tough issue with love. I learned so much in those first few meetings. And from there, I was hooked on Emmaus group.
There’s a few reasons why I make time for Emmaus group despite my busy schedule and odd work hours. For me, the men in our group are great accountability buddies. Every week we share personal and spiritual goals, and throughout the week those are constantly on my mind. I want to do them so I can feel good at the next meeting. And when I fail, it’s no big deal, everyone is supportive and understanding and pushing me to keep striving for more. When I first joined Emmaus group, one of the member’s goals was to recite the rosary every day and go to mass 3+ times per week. At the time, I thought that was so much, an impossible goal for me to achieve. But over time, I extended my goals a little each week, and now I’m doing the goal I originally thought impossible.
Another big reason I make time for Emmaus group is because the discussions are tremendous, and I always go home having learned something, and/or feeling inspired. Whether it’s homosexuality, theology of the body, or something less talked about like the power of silence, we really do have great discussions that shed light on important issues within the Church, and give me a greater understanding. Like many young adults, I’ve struggled with the Church’s teachings on tough issues like homosexuality, abortion, and sex before marriage, most of my life. But through the discussions on Emmaus group, I’ve become so much more confident in why the Church teaches what it does, and that ultimately it’s not meant to be a restriction, rather a path towards joy.
Finally, the men in our Emmaus group are now my friends. I love getting together to see them every week, catch up on each other’s lives, and a couple of them are now among my closest friends.
I would recommend joining an Emmaus group to anyone who wants to deepen their faith, and find a community of people who will support you through good times and bad. Too often we think we can take on our faith journeys alone. But when we do that, we always fail. We need to rely on Jesus, and we need to rely on others. I grew up cradle Catholic and have always believed in God, but I struggled to consistently practice my faith in college and the first couple years after school.
The main reason I struggled so much is because I was doing it alone.
I didn’t have any friends who were practicing, which meant I didn’t have anyone to hold me accountable, and I didn’t have anyone to go to when I was struggling or dealing with an issue I had with the Church. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to have that supporting group. Whether it be within your parish, among your friends, or in a faith sharing group. Emmaus group has been one way I’ve been able to establish that faith-based community. It’s been so important having people to discuss the tough issues with, talk about the problems I’m dealing with in life, and be inspired to go the extra mile.
I’ve been part of an Emmaus group for 6 months, and I can say without a doubt it has deepened my faith, and given me the support I need to continue thriving. I encourage everyone to make time, usually it’s just a couple hours each week, to establish that faith-based community, and grow in your faith.
“Join an Emmaus Group because they’re so good for the soul!”
I was looking to foster community with other women who are seeking God in their adult lives and enjoy a setting that is intentionally set up to promote discussion, not only about our daily joys and struggles, but also about God objectively and how we can come to know Him better and ultimately share eternal life with Him and each other.
While I absolutely love engaging in a life of science surrounded by people with a diversity of thought both at school and work, the core of my being is my Catholic faith, and the rest of my enterprises only make sense in context of that. Emmaus groups is a priority for me because it’s important for me to have a community that both understands my Catholic identity and can also help me remember and muse about how all the other aspects of my life serve the primary purpose of getting to Heaven.
Join an Emmaus Group because they’re so good for the soul! Community is good, faith is good, sharing life and recognizing the love of God in our lives with other wonderful people is what it’s all about!
I think at times we as young adults can feel isolated in our parishes, so we need to seek out peer community.
I joined an Emmaus group to be in a community of women desiring to grow deeper in their faith. During college, being in a women’s bible study provided a safe space to ask questions, helped me to grow in my prayer life, and cultivated wonderful friendships. I have found the same with our Emmaus group!
After college, it took me a while to find community in St. Louis. One of my friends from grad school always invited me to Theology on Tap with her, but it wasn’t until about a year after graduating that I started trying to get more involved. I joined the STLYA running club and volleyball league and found that it was a great way to meet people and have fun! Then I decided to be in an Emmaus group, which has helped me to build community at a deeper level.
I would recommend being in a small faith sharing group, like Emmaus group, because it connects you with other Catholic young adults. I think at times we as young adults can feel isolated in our parishes, so we need to seek out peer community. Personally, it has also greatly impacted my faith.
It has been such a beautiful experience to be able to learn, pray, and laugh with women who share the common goal of growing in their relationship with Christ.
“I know I’ve found lifelong friends in these men.”
I moved back to St. Louis in 2016 after having spent a few years away studying in Kansas City. I had a few friends after coming back, but I really needed faith based community, and I wanted to meet new people. I looked for opportunities on the STLYA page, and got connected with an Emmaus group pretty fast.
Being in an Emmaus group has caused me to grow and learn a lot. These men have been a rock for me. I’ve cried with these men in bad times and laughed in the good. Every man needs fraternity, but it’s been really important to me as someone who experiences same sex attractions to have community and validation from male peers. It’s not something I’ve experienced a lot of up to this point in my life. I’ve shared my soul with these men and they have not let me down.
I know I’ve found lifelong friends in these men.
Accountability is key in the Christian life, and going to a group of people regularly is probably the best way to have that accountability. Emmaus groups are also an excellent way to meet people who take their faith seriously. Everyone brings something different to the table, so you’ll find out things about the faith or about life that you wouldn’t know otherwise.