By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – After a long day at work, Meredith Van Zuiden, decided to catch up with some friends and burn off some energy at a pick-up basketball game.
The 22-year-old parishioner at St. Mary in Willey thought participating in the Carroll Catholic Social Sports event sounded like fun.
Alex Schmitz is taking over for Carly Meixner as the new youth minister for Carroll County. Both had been concerned about the lack of activities for young adults in the area.
“I took this position at the start of June and have been working alongside Carly for this month to get a feel for the position,” he said. “Carroll Catholic Social Sports is an initiative by Carly and me to give adults – particularly young adults – an opportunity to interact with others in the area in a very casual but Christ-centered atmosphere.”
The two agreed on the need and wanted to provide a positive outlet for socializing,” Schmitz commented.
“We intend to have weekly events with a variety of sports,” he said. “Anyone 18 and older, who is out of high school, is invited to attend the events as long as they are ready to play.”
Schmitz graduated from Kuemper Catholic High school in 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Morningside College in Sioux City. He is currently taking master’s classes in Prosthetics and Orthotics through Northwestern University “with a dream of working with youth and veteran amputees.”
According to Schmitz, the first event went “really well” with 12 in attendance.
“We played a couple games of four on four basketball and afterwards, we got together at the Carroll Brewery where everyone sat and talked for a while,” he said.
Schmitz also hopes to incorporate a speaker once or twice a month, “who would talk on any number of interesting social or theological topics.”
He wants to include other sports in the future. There are disc golf courses throughout Carroll, as well as sand volleyball courts. Games like soccer, flag football and softball are options as well, Schmitz pointed out.
“I think getting young adults together is really important because young adults often move to an area and feel little to no ties initially,” he said. “Even moving back home they may not feel the same ties as they did. We want to give young adults a group of people they feel like they belong to.”
Schmitz added the church wants young Catholics to feel like they belong, and “hopefully, that sense of belonging will lead to a desire to keep growing in their faith as well.”
Father Brian Feller, parochial vicar at Pope St. John Paul II Parish in Carroll, participated in the basketball event.
He continued, “We were competing against a very good team, but if I’m not mistaken, my teammates sunk a few more shots that brought us the ‘W.’”
Out of a normal routine
Father Feller said he is grateful “to our young adult faith coordinator, Alex Schmitz, who planned this event and Carly Meixner, our previous coordinator who set a foundation for this work.”
“This time of sports was Jesus’ call to me to play with virtue and excellence to the best of my ability,” he said. “This was an opportunity for me to live the Gospel, which in effect, helps me more deeply receive it and be transformed by it. Hopefully, my example and the joy of being Christian spoke for Christ.”
“This group is great for young people in Carroll,” Van Zuiden said. “Even if you’re not super athletic, like myself, the social aspect is nice and at times, just getting out of your normal routine is necessary.”
The Willey parishioner was there to play basketball and talk to people and Van Zuiden did end up playing much of the time.
“I enjoyed meeting a couple new people, plus seeing some of my friends from high school and those I attended Steubenville with,” she said. “I plan to attend more events in the future.”