I’ve either lived in or visited most regions of the USA. Few people outside the West know much about the Northwest region of our country let alone the Inland Northwest. Before I moved to Washington State, Washington meant D.C. and any reference to the State of WA really meant Seattle. Some sport fans recognize Spokane in Eastern WA as “that place those Zags are from.” Wait, that isn’t a suburb of Seattle?” Nope. What is it like being a Young Adult Catholic in the Inland Northwest or Northwest for that matter. Here is a beginners guide:
1.) Theology on Tap/ Pub Nights are an integral part of the Young Adult Community. There will be serious conversations about the merits of micro brews and craft beer. And Jesus. And other important faith related topics.
2.) If you aren’t willing to learn how to coordinate a fleece jacket with Mass attire, don’t move here. Khakis, dress pants, skirts, and dresses can all be worn with a stylish fleece jacket, preferably name brand.
3.) Our Young Adult retreats usually involve a river, lake, ocean, or mountain setting. Walking Pilgrimages are a big deal here. We love praying with our feet and enjoying the bounty of God’s pristine, beautiful creation.
4.) Welcome, to the land of the Jesuits, i.e., the Society of Jesus. Many schools, missions, parishes, and colleges in the Northwest are Jesuits. You will inevitably share good times and interesting conversations with Jesuits in all stages of formation. For all those who are rolling their eyes, yes, Jesuits certainly vary from member to member. But remember, EWTN’s Fr. Mitch Pacwa and my former university president and uber philosopher Fr. Robert Spitzer are Jesuits. . . . Not to mention the Pope too. When they are devout, Jesuits are amazing.
5.) We celebrate Mass at pristine mountain vistas and historic Mission Churches.
6.) Our events tend to be lighter in attendance. The Northwest is considered the least “Churched” area of the country. Being Catholic in the Northwest requires active seeking out and choosing something not a thriving part of the general culture.
7.) Our summer parish or young adult picnics can involve wildfire smoke.
8.) Our priests tend to drive motorcycles complete with Eucharistic Adoration Monstrance decals, go fly fishing on their day off, and host social events at local, eclectic coffee houses and sustainable, farm-to-table eateries.
9.) We have less religious orders in comparison to many other regions of the USA and even fewer religious orders that wear habits. We get excited about habits like the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church or the Dominicans.
10.) Being Catholic in the Northwest in an adventure, a learning experience, a test of conviction, and an ongoing project at building a devout, thriving community.