SAN DIEGO — As the new president of the local chapter of Young Catholic Professionals, Kendra McClelland has her work cut out for her.
YCP San Diego had been going strong ever since it started in 2016, hosting monthly events to build community among young adult Catholics and to equip them to live their faith while pursuing successful careers.
But, with the COVID-19 pandemic, everything stopped.
A YCP event in late March of 2020 was canceled. Between April and November of that year, there were only four events; three were virtual. When an event billed as the “YCP San Diego Re-Launch” was held on June 8, it had been seven months since YCP San Diego had held an event of any kind.
While some might feel overwhelmed by the challenge of rebuilding after the hiatus, McClelland sees opportunity.
“This is a grace-filled time when people are really hungry for community,” said McClelland, 30, who was introduced as president during the re-launch event. “Many people have experienced isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, and YCP San Diego offers them a place of belonging, encouragement and inspiration in their Catholic faith.”
McClelland, who attends St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Mission Hills, anticipates “exceptional growth in the months to come.”
Cort Peters, chair of YCP San Diego’s board of directors, is also bullish about the organization’s future.
Not having a busy schedule of social events during the pandemic has drawn many people closer to God, said Peters, and that “renewal of faith” presents an opportunity “to make YCP stronger than ever” moving forward.
Peters said YCP San Diego’s board of directors saw the formation of a new leadership team as their priority and were “unanimous that (McClelland) would be the right person at the right time to lead.”
Before the pandemic, YCP San Diego hosted a monthly Executive Speaker Series, where young adult Catholics had opportunities to network and to listen to a guest speaker reflect on how he or she had successfully integrated faith and career. There were also quarterly happy hours and biannual half-day retreats.
The re-launch event was primarily an occasion to explain the responsibilities of the various leadership positions with YCP San Diego and to encourage interested young adults to apply. McClelland expects to have the new leadership team in place soon – “and then, we’ll get to work.”
She hopes to be hosting regular events once again by this fall.
Professionally, McClelland is in her fifth year with The Evangelical Catholic, a nonprofit that works with parishes, dioceses and other Catholic entities to train leaders in evangelization. She relocated from San Diego to Madison, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2017 to work for the organization. She returned to San Diego in August 2020 to lead its regional expansion on the West Coast.
McClelland, who earned a Master of Divinity from the Franciscan School of Theology in 2017, sees “so much complementarity” between the mission of The Evangelical Catholic and YCP. She noted that, in their own ways, both promote evangelization, which is the call of every baptized Christian.
“YCP is really seeking to empower young professionals to be Christ’s hands and feet in the workplace and wherever they find themselves,” she said, “and I see that as the starting point for transforming our culture and society.”