By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — You’re young, you’re Catholic, and you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but not the way secular culture pushes young adults to celebrate?
Be not afraid, said Allison Keegan, director of diocesan Young Adult and Campus Ministry. She and the City on a Hill ministry for young adults has just the New Year’s Eve party for you.
For the fifth year, but not in a row, City on a Hill will ring in the New Year in grand fashion. This year, the semi-formal party begins at 8 p.m. at Studio B, an art gallery in the Kansas City’s trendy Crossroads District at 2016 Main.
And at $35 per person, the party will include two complimentary drinks, an hors d’ouvres and dessert buffet, and a champagne toast at midnight.
But even more important, the party will also include more than 100 (and counting) like-minded young adult Catholics, mostly between the ages of 24 and 35, who want more out of a social life than the bar scene and are seeking relationships not only with other like-minded young Catholics, but with Christ.
It doesn’t matter if you are single, married or in a serious dating relationship, Keegan said. All are welcome, and she promises a great time — just like nearly 400 young adult Catholics have every month in a variety of City on a Hill programs.
“Young people may be attracted to pizza, beer and music,” Keegan said. “But we have something decent to bring them to.”
And she isn’t the least bit afraid of putting on a New Year’s Eve party that only looks like the “get blasted” parties offered all over the city.
“You have to meet people where they are,” she said. “You have to appeal to people with a wide variety of interests.”
City on a Hill is also not a “lonelyhearts” club for young adults who did meet their marriage partner in college and are now out on their own.
But that does happen, Keegan said.
“We’ve had five engagements for couples who met through City on a Hill in the last three months,” Keegan said.
In fact, last year’s City on a Hill New Year’s Eve party had to be cancelled for a very peculiar reason. Mike and Sara Sheerin, who met at City on a Hill’s “Hee-Haw Hoedown” were getting married that night.
“Everybody (involved in City on a Hill) was going to be at their wedding so we just skipped it last year,” Keegan said.
This year’s City on a Hill New Year’s Eve is also an example of the saying about God closing a door and opening a window.
Keegan said that initial plans for New Year’s Eve fell through less than two months ago, leaving her scrambling to pull the party together.
She left messages at every Kansas City banquet hall and venue she could find on Google, when out of the clear blue sky the managers of Studio B returned her call.
Studio B just had another group cancel its reservation for New Year’s Eve, which left them scrambling to fill the date. They offered Keegan their venue at a reduced rate.
“Everyone else I called were either booked, or they wanted $8,000 just to rent the space,” Keegan said. “This was a win-win for both us and Studio B, and it was definitely providential.”
Such big events like the New Year’s Eve party and the Hee-Haw Hoedown (complete with professional square dance callers), and regular young adult events such as Theology on Tap and Tuesdays at the Boulevard, plus regular small group gatherings specifically exploring men’s and women’s spirituality, and sports programs fill a hunger in young Catholics at a critical time in their lives.
It is a time when young Catholics are claiming their faith lives given to them by their parents as their own as they face crucial decisions that will steer them for the rest of their lives.
And they are looking for “intentional community” — a place to be and people to be with because they want to be there at a time when it appears that the secular culture is crumbling around them.
“People want to blame institutions, when really we need to look at our own hearts,” she said. “We look for Band-aids all over the place to cover problems instead of fixing the real problem.”
City on a Hill offers young adults a chance to lift themselves up to God’s will.
“We make a lot better decisions in our lives when we surround ourselves with people who are looking for holiness,” Keegan said. “I know that for me, the people in this community inspire me to be better, and that’s what’s cool about this. The church offers true freedom, true relationship that nothing else will satisfy.”
Though it continues to grow, Keegan said City on a Hill has barely scratched the surface among young adults who are yearning for the best in life through a deeper relationship with God.
“There are still so many young adults who don’t know City on a Hill exists,” she said. “The potential for growth is huge. It’s a challenge, but I like to view challenges as opportunities for growth.
“I’m blessed and honored to be a small part of it,” Keegan said.
To make reservations for the City on a Hill New Year’s Eve party, or to find out more information on the variety of City on a Hill programs and events for young adult Catholics, visit www.kansascityonahill.org.