Young Adult groups existed in several Maronite parishes of the United States for many decades. However in the mid 1980s, a new dynamic was introduced. Monsignors David George and James Root, then assistants to Monsignor Michael Kail, who was the director of the Maronite Youth Organization (MYO), were approached by High School seniors who attended the MYO Workshop requesting that a group be formed that would minister to those young adults over 18, as well as to form a program focused on the young adults in the following year. After a meeting with the interested young adults, the first Maronite Young Adult (MYA) Workshop was held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio.
The young adults requested that their program still have ties to the MYO, and for a few years both MYO and MYA programs were held at the same location, sharing the same dates, but with different content and different themes.
Annual gatherings at our National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon and at our National Apostolate of Maronite (NAM) Conventions also fostered a momentum for young adult activities. Then in 2009, a more concentrated effort for the growth of the MYA was made when Father Elie Mikhael, was appointed to start a Maronite Young Adult Program. With the assistance of Cecilia Romero of Saint Joseph Church, Atlanta the first Maronite Young Adult Workshop took place October 30 – November 1, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The event attracted 80 active Maronite Young Adults from numerous parishes from both eparchies.
After a successful start, work began on the second MYA Workshop in 2010. Father Elias Sleiman, M.L.M was appointed from the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, and in early 2011, an official MYA National Board was appointed to work with the MYA priest directors, tasked with putting forth a plan and agenda for the future of the MYA on a national level. The MYA National Board helped the priest directors host annual workshops, which have been held ever since and continue to attract a growing number of young adults throughout the country from several parishes.
In 2014, a new National Board of Directors was chosen, and Father Rodolph Wakim of the Eparchy of Saint Maron and Father Tony Massad of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon were appointed. In 2016, Sister Therese Maria Touma, from the Maronite Sisters of Christ the Light, was appointed to succeed Father Wakim.
Today, the Maronite Young Adult Workshops continue to foster growth in fellowship, spirituality, and unity for the Maronite Young Adults who attend on a national level, along with helping to spark regional workshops and parish outreach. The Maronite Young Adults throughout the United States play a significant part in their parishes, at the National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) Conventions, and at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. Likewise, they have helped start the International Maronite World Youth Forum in Lebanon under the direction of the Maronite Patriarch.
Other recent initiatives that have been offered for our young adults include world youth day pilgrimages, online prayer and faith sharing and book clubs. The MYA has taken an active role in evangelizing and engaging our young adults through digital media, particularly through social media. One exciting initiative that has been launched, in conjunction with the MYA web and digital presence, is an online evangelization platform of videos for Young Adults, called Ignite the Maronite. This project is a collaboration of young adult laity, clergy, and religious with a focus of keeping young adults engaged in their faith to foster growth and discipleship for our Lord. Follow Maronite Young Adults activities and events on Facebook and Instagram @Nationalmya.