Crossroads 4 Christ saw the pandemic dash its hopes for first major gathering. What happened next surprised everybody.
After months of living in the middle of a deadly pandemic and the social isolation that has come along with efforts to control it, it’s little wonder that many Americans are feeling stressed, if not downright depressed. And it’s not just your imagination. The Census Bureau recently conducted a survey that showed that a third of Americans are displaying signs of clinical anxiety or depression, the Washington Post reported. That’s significantly higher than it’s been in “normal” times, before the novel coronavirus began spreading around the world late last year.
There might not be a time in most people’s memory when there’s been more need for the virtue of hope.
So the appearance of a new Catholic young adult organization and the scheduling of its first national conference could be considered providential.
Crossroads 4 Christ — or C4C, as members usually refer to it — began planning for its first national conference last year, but when lockdowns and shutdowns threw their plans into uncertainty, organizers turned it into an online event.
The originally planned theme — Reasons for Hope 2020 — could hardly be more relevant.
In fact, the first reading for the Mass on the conference’s last day was from 1 Peter 3, which urges Christians to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”
“Our conference team was astounded at how providential it is that today’s Mass readings included these words,” said a followup email to participants. “After all the disruptions to our original in-person conference … it was a blessing to see that our original inspiration to proclaim hope to this generation has been confirmed.”
C4C was founded during a bus ride home to Connecticut after the 2015 visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia. Developing a vision and format to provide both spiritual formation and Christian fellowship to young adults, the group grew in numbers, spawning new branches around the state. There are now six chapters, with plans to expand throughout New England and eventually the rest of the country. Members have taken up service projects in their parishes and evangelized their friends. Some non-Catholic members have found their way into the Church.
“Young adults looking for community have found it,” Travis Moran, executive director, said in an interview. “We‘ve heard stories of young adults who have been struggling, even sometimes with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, and have found a lot of consolation in being involved in the chapter.”
By 2018, C4C was at the point where it could begin offering retreats for members — at one point bringing 85 young people together for a weekend of spiritual reflection. The following year, the time seemed right to begin planning for the organization’s first conference, which would bring chapter members together to listen to some dynamic Catholic speakers.
“We had originally planned an in-person conference for June,” Moran said. “We were hoping for about 300 attendees for a one-day event.”
But then the pandemic threw everything up in the air, and Moran and his team transformed the conference into an event to be live-streamed. Because of that, they were able to bring in more speakers, and ended up having 1,100 people register, almost three times as many as the original plans hoped for.
“You can’t beat being in person,” Moran commented, “but we were very pleased with the way this turned out.”
And the proceedings were stretched out over a week, every evening from May 11 to 16.