“If you want to make it to God, the main way to do that is through friends,” Fr Richard Wallace FSSP believes.
“Just like many saints who had friendships with other saints, it is iron that sharpens iron, which is what we’re hoping to do here.”
Together with Fr Wallace, a group of young Catholics are choosing formation, fellowship, and adoration with the Lord on Saturday nights, as part of the St Francis de Sales young professionals group.
The group got together at Maternal Heart in Lewisham for its 17th monthly meeting on Saturday 27 January, the week of their patron’s feast day.
They were joined by guest speaker Fr Jeff Miller of the Salesians of St John Bosco, who hold a special devotion to St Francis de Sales.
In his talk about how young people can imitate the French saint, Fr Miller spoke about having a clear understanding of Catholic teaching in order to effectively communicate the “why” of the faith to others.
“St Francis was the absolute master of that,” Fr Miller said.
“He adapted his faith to his audience.”
He said understanding the faith means being able to illustrate to others the kindness of the church.
“You will attract more flies with one drop of honey than with a whole barrel of vinegar, as St Francis says.”
When living this out, Fr Miller said everyone is on the journey to sainthood.
“A saint is simply someone who fully cooperates with God, allowing him to achieve the most in them.”
St John Bosco insisted that youth is the time to become a saint, but like St Francis de Sales, taught that sainthood doesn’t mean living a faultless life.
“It’s not something you achieve—the key to perfection is trying to be perfect,” Fr Miller said.
Each member listened attentively before participating in adoration, enjoying dinner together afterwards in the courtyard.
Fr Wallace chose St Francis, patron saint of writers and adult education, to be the group’s patron at its inception two years ago after parishioner Rebekah Pospischil approached him with the idea of a group focused solely on faith and friendship.
“I knew there were young Catholic adults out there, but there wasn’t one space bringing them together to grow in faith,” Rebekah said.
“The centre of what we want to do and what keeps people coming is that spiritual formation.
“We want people to know there are other young people searching for their faith to talk to.”
Fr Wallace says St Francis’ accessible writings communicate the important reasons for the group’s existence.
“He talks about friendship and he’s very good at teaching people how to be saints in the world without becoming infected by its spirit,” Fr Wallace said.
“The group has helped our young people examine themselves, their friendships and their prayer life in ways they hadn’t before.
“They learn from St Francis the joy that comes from following God.”
More information can be found at maternalheart.org/groups/