Young adults create Catholic community through Eastside Disciples

  • Written by Brian LeBlanc
  • Published in Local
Catholic young adults gather for “Drinks and Discipleship,” a monthly event of Eastside Disciples that includes pizza and a faith presentation at a host parish, followed by socializing at a local establishment. Chelsea Smith, Eastside Disciples coordinator, is second from left. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Disciples Catholic young adults gather for “Drinks and Discipleship,” a monthly event of Eastside Disciples that includes pizza and a faith presentation at a host parish, followed by socializing at a local establishment. Chelsea Smith, Eastside Disciples coordinator, is second from left. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Disciples

BELLEVUE – Each week at St. Louise de Marillac Parish, a group of young adults with diverse careers gather from around the Eastside to share their common faith and create community.

“We can’t walk in our faith alone,” says Sela Jakub-Wood, a power system engineer who co-leads a small-group Bible study with Mando Marin, a software developer at Microsoft.

Most of the group are young professionals working in “non-faith” jobs, said Jakub-Wood, who notes that she didn’t have a strong Catholic community when she moved to the area for her career. After attending an Eastside Disciples event, however, Jakub-Wood said she “found the community I was looking for, and got more involved.”

Besides meeting to review the coming Sunday’s Gospel readings, young adults can participate in a variety of activities intended to connect them with their Catholic peers.

“Come for getting to know people and stay because you got to know Christ in each of those people,” Marin said.

Chelsea Smith, the organization’s coordinator and pastoral assistant for confirmation and communications at Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Sammamish, sees Eastside Disciples as a way to help young adults “grow in community and then plug back into their parish.”

Eastside DisciplesEastside Disciples fields a CYO softball team during the summer. Here, the team gathers on the field at St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Disciples

Drinks and discipleship

Eastside Disciples was formed in 2014 out of a regional young adult social event called “God & Gelato.”

A regional approach was started because changing demographics meant there often weren’t enough young adults to form individual groups in many of the parishes east of Seattle, said Ann LaBeck, pastoral assistant for young adult ministry at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish in Bellevue.

Today, Eastside Disciples draws Catholic adults ages 18–35 from around the area to monthly social events like “Drinks & Discipleship,” which started in 2018.

Young adults meet at the host parish for pizza before a presentation, usually led by a priest of the Eastside Deanery, that is followed by discussion before the group adjourns for drinks at a nearby venue. Occasionally, guest speakers are invited to lead discussions on topics such as the Theology of the Body and evangelizing through art.

Many smaller events develop organically, based on the interests of the members, and are promoted through the Eastside Disciples Facebook group.

Other gatherings have included hikes, retreats, sports activities, outings to movies and plays, volunteer events, and attending other young adult events in the area, said Chelsea Smith.

“We’re aware young adults are going to plug into their faith in different ways,” Smith said. “If you’re interested, plan it. Take leadership,” she added.

For some, sports are a natural way to connect with others, so Eastside Disciples fields a summertime CYO softball team, organized and coached by Danny Bailey.

“We all need community and it takes a bit of a spark to find it,” Bailey said. “We all need God; we need each other — we just need to take a risk.”

Find a Catholic young adult event

Eastside Disciples’ next “Drinks and Discipleship” event is slated for 7 p.m. September 13 at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish, 4400 130th Place S.E., Bellevue. The gathering will feature Father Donald Perea, parish priest at St. Madeleine Sophie.

Eastside Disciples’ small-group Bible study sessions are held at 7 p.m. every Thursday at St. Louise Parish, 141 156th Ave. S.E., Bellevue.

Find young adult groups at other parishes. Find other Eastside Disciples events on its Facebook group.

Sign up for The Scroll, a weekly email listing of young adult events around the archdiocese.