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An Interview with Andrea Cohen

Updated: May 27, 2018

By Gordon Nary

Gordon: When and why did join Assumption Catholic Church?

Andrea: I joined Assumption to find a nearby parish home when I moved to River West in 2008.  I greatly appreciate the homilies’ emphasis on lessons that align with the church’s true pillars – love, humility and solidarity.  (I can handle tough love as much as the next person, but I don’t care for other churches where I feel like I will get yelled at!  We already have enough inherent Catholic guilt.)  I was drawn to the welcoming environment.  I come from a mixed-religion family (my dad is Jewish, his mother was Southern Baptist, and I ring in a Methodist handbell choir); while I was born and raised Catholic, finding an accepting parish home was really important to me.

Lastly, I love how bright and light our worship space is.  It is so uplifting to have Mass there. 

Gordon: When was the Assumption Young Adults organized and how many members to you have?

Andrea: Assumption Young Adults (AYA) was in place when I joined the church.  In 2013, I became one of its key coordinators, along with Liz Kabacinski and Lauren Hall Vugteveen

We have over 100 people on our distribution list and a core group of about 20 active members. 

Gordon: What is the Assumption Young Adults' focus and what activities or projects are you planning or which may have been implemented?

Andrea: AYA’s goal is to bring the parish’s young adults (anyone in the 20s and 30s) together for service, social and spiritual events.   

Community service activities include various labor at Josephinum Academy, sponsoring gifts for Adopt-a-family, and providing Easter basket supplies for Marillac House’s Breakfast with the Bunny.   

Spiritual activities include a bible study, Stump the Nun or Priest events, and faith-based conversation nights.   

We socialize after each month’s young adult mass (5 PM on the 3rd Sunday from September through November and January through May), have had euchre nights, and celebrated Rosenmontag and/or Fat Tuesday

We welcome all ideas for future events and are happy to help plan anything!

Gordon: Some of our readers may not be aware of the Archdiocese of Chicago's Young Adult Ministry. How does AYA interface with them?

Andrea: We send out events emails every two weeks, in which we list our events, events of other parishes, and those hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Young Adult Ministry.

Gordon: A recent Pew Report on America’s Changing Religious Landscape pointed out that younger Catholics are much more likely than older Catholics to say they could imagine leaving the Catholic Church someday.  In your opinion, what can young Catholics do to help address this challenge?

Andrea: I acknowledge that many younger – or frankly, any age – Catholics struggle to feel tied to the faith.  Admittedly, I am a very lucky Catholic, because my college experience at DePaul University helped me find the ‘version’ of Catholicism that fit me so well!  I found a strong, progressive, faith-based community with loads of outlets, ranging from community service to praise worship and inter-faith groups to retreats.  Once I knew what helped me in my faith, I was equipped to continue growing in my faith journey. 

I would encourage any Catholic to start building that tie to their faith by taking ownership of their relationship with God.  For some, this is a very personal experience and having a traditional community does not suit them.  For others, though, that community can strengthen their faith and provide a resource of friends that share those values.  Try to determine what would support your relationship with God, seek that out and/or help create it (or ask AYA to help you do that!).

Gordon: As Senior Internal Auditor as DePaul University, they must have been very pleased to have you join their administrative staff since you were a DePaul graduate with a 3.87 GPA with a Magna Cum Laude plus you earned a MBA in Business Strategy/Decision Making and Sustainability Management at DePaul's  Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. For some of our young readers who may be considering entering the financial profession, could you provide them with some insight into sustainability management?

Andrea: The way one of my professors eloquently distinguished sustainability management:  Typical business cycles start with raw materials arriving at your door and end when products leave your door as finished goods.  In sustainability management, we think about what happens before and after materials arrive and leave our doors: from where those raw materials were sourced, which resources were used to extract them, how were they transported, the manner in which the goods were consumed, destroyed or disposed, and how the communities and environment were impacted along the way.  Overall, it is a more holistic or cradle-to-cradle approach to think about a business’ operations and decisions. 

AYA is meeting with representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago and supporting them in their effort to fulfill Archbishop Cupich’s initiative to benchmark energy use for all diocesan buildings by 2020.

Gordon: Thank you for your time and insights into the important work of the Assumption Young Adults

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