Young adults mingle Feb. 17 before the start of the evening of faith and fellowship in the Monmouth University Catholic Student Center, West Long Branch. Patrick Dolan photos

Young adults mingle Feb. 17 before the start of the evening of faith and fellowship in the Monmouth University Catholic Student Center, West Long Branch. Patrick Dolan photos


By Ken Downey Jr. | Correspondent

About 40 young adults gathered Feb. 17 in the Monmouth University Catholic Student Center all with the same intent – to become closer to the Lord.

With the lights dimmed and candles lit, the West Long Branch center welcomed the young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 28, to a Young Adult Night. Sponsored by the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, the event featured dinner, fellowship, witness and Mass, with special guests NET and BREAK Ministries. NET – which stands for National Evangelization Team – travels the country in hopes of spreading the Word of Jesus.

“This night is a challenge of witness. That is why NET ministries is here with us tonight,” said Jerry Wutkowski, assistant coordinator of young adult ministry for the Diocese of Trenton. “They have been traveling throughout the Diocese supporting our youth. It just so happened that they were in our area, and we said, ‘Why not encourage it to be more young adult orientated?’”

After more than an hour of dinner and fellowship, the young adults gathered to hear more about NET Ministries. The organization, stationed in St. Paul, Minn., began in 1981 with 12 individuals who traveled through southern Minnesota to spread the Word of God. Now, NET Ministries is made up of multiple teams that go all over the country on the same mission.

“This is all about faith and friends,” said Mackenzie Carmichael, a 23-year-old student at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, who enjoyed hearing about NET. “It’s about having something to do and being open with the Lord.”

Some in attendance looked at the way the NET members help in their communities, and shared how they themselves also give back.

Pam Skalecky, a graduate of Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and a second-grade religious education catechist in St. Thomas More, Manalapan, said, “I teach them about God and how he’s always there for us and that if you do something wrong, he’ll always forgive you. In showing them this, it prepares them for the Eucharist.”

Following the discussion, NET Ministries joined the young adults for an hour of praise, worship and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which took place in the basement chapel. The Holy Hour was led by Ramil Caragay, who belongs to BREAK Ministry, a group that reaches out to college students throughout New Jersey, and like NET, spreads the word of the Lord.

Caragay started the service with song, and each of the individuals was given a songbook. He then related part of his life story and how he got to where he is through God.

“I faced a lot of adversity, and growing up wasn’t always easy,” he said. “I was a chubby kid with glasses back then, and it was hard for me to make friends. Now that I look back at it, it’s amazing how far I’ve come, and it’s amazing that I didn’t crack. All I ever did was turn the other cheek.”

It was God, and what Caragay learned through the BREAK Ministry, that helped him get to where he is today. That was what Wutkowski wanted all of the young adults to take away from the evening’s events.

“This was for peers giving witness to each other about their journey with Christ and how they can go deeper with it,” Wutkowski said. “And if you were to listen to some of the people here, they share what drove them to share their missionary heart.”