CS PHOTO BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN
Megan McCleneghen, the new coordinator of campus and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, hopes to help young adults find their Catholic faith to be relevant to their lives, and then share it with others.
CS PHOTO BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Megan McCleneghen, the new coordinator of campus and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, hopes to help young adults find their Catholic faith to be relevant to their lives, and then share it with others.

Megan McCleneghen, the new coordinator of campus and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, said in her new role, she is excited to help young adults see how God remains relevant in their lives after college.

“I believe our human heart is searching for God,” she explained. “Society teaches us how to be an adult in every way, except with God.”

While young adults may continue praying in the same way as they did in college or before, McCleneghen said as their lives develop, they often wonder, “Is God still relevant in my life?”

“I am excited to help young adult Catholics see that the answer is yes,” she said.

Originally from Dallas, McCleneghen first came to the Washington area while she was doing missionary work and discerning consecrated life with the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi. Before that, she had lived with them in New York; Providence, Rhode Island; and Houston; doing a variety of different ministry work and earning her bachelor’s degree in pastoral studies. While she was in Houston, she said she fell in love with parish ministry.

“I loved the sense of evangelizing the whole family,” said McCleneghen. “That is what the Church is. We’re supposed to accompany people throughout their whole life.”

While she was working in youth ministry, she also enjoyed empowering parents to be the primary catechists of their children. During her time with the consecrated women, she also led retreats for college students and mission trips for high school students.

Her own faith was greatly strengthened while she was in high school, both through a retreat experience and a mission trip. On a retreat soon after starting high school, she had a powerful experience in Eucharistic Adoration, where she said she realized “Christ in the Eucharist was a real person who loves me and cares about me.”

Then, while on a high school mission trip to a remote community in Mexico, where there had not been a priest for a year, she would walk from house to house to let people know that there was going to be Mass that week. After learning about it, she saw people walk for hours to attend Mass, which helped her see what a gift the faith is.

After discerning out of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, McCleneghen began studying at the Saint John Paul II Institute in Washington, where she is completing work for a master’s degree in theology with a concentration in marriage and family. She has also been volunteering with young adult ministry in the archdiocese, and in particular with the Apostles on Mission program that is a partnership between the Catholic Apostolate Center and the Archdiocese of Washington.

The mission of that program is to empower young adult leaders to form their own evangelization initiatives, and McCleneghen said she loved working with people to discover that they can evangelize by using their unique talents.

“D.C. is a place where so many people want to change the world,” said McCleneghen, adding that all people needed to evangelize were the tools and a little bit of added support.

One participant in the program saw a need for new young adults in Washington to have a touch point when they arrive, so he now sends out a personal e-mail to new people who move to the city. Another young adult who works on Capitol Hill decided to have one meaningful conversation with someone there every day. In her new role, McCleneghen hopes to continue to support young adults undertaking similar initiatives.

“I think we have a really beautifully diverse archdiocese,” said McCleneghen. “In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already been enriched by the diverse spirituality and initiatives.”

Now, she will work alongside Jonathan Lewis, the executive director of evangelization, young adult ministry and chaplaincies for the archdiocese, to help connect, support and serve the young adults and college students in the archdiocese. In addition, they will be preparing for the synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, which will take place in October 2018.

“Young adults have a lot to say to the Church,” said McCleneghen. “We are a huge part of what the Church is going to be.”