Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life


Young adults

Will a Thriving Singles Scene Renew American Catholicism?

Published by Religion Dispatches, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, February 12, 2016

As the choir rehearses before St. Monica’s Sunday evening Mass, two blond women in skinny jeans slide into a pew in the rear of the church and chat quietly. A few pews back a woman wearing a mid-thigh length dress and a long sweater genuflects before beginning to pray. Before long, the church is filled with attractive people under 40.

St. Monica Catholic Community is a destination parish for young adults in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with a reputation for being the place where young, attractive Catholics go to seek somebody special—and I don’t mean Jesus.

Continue reading “Will a Thriving Singles Scene Renew American Catholicism?”

Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much

Published by Religion News Service, September 24, 2015

LOS ANGELES (RNS) When Regina Bunye catches sight of Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Saturday (Sept. 26), it won’t be her first glimpse of the pontiff. Last year, she took part in a pilgrimage to Rome, where she got within 20 feet of Francis, who waved to her group.

“It’s kind of like seeing a rock star up close,” said Bunye, 36. “He is just a connection away from St. Peter and then Jesus … and he’s an incredible man.”

Like Bunye, the young adults descending on Philadelphia this week may be Francis’ biggest fans. Continue reading “Young Catholics drawn to Pope Francis. Church life and dogma? Not so much”

UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice

Published by Aslan Media, Inc. in three parts from September 21 to October 2, 2012

Aminah Galal counted 100 audience members at the presentation on Shariah law. It was a good turnout, and most, she noted, weren’t members of University of California – Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU), which hosted the event.

But as Galal, vice president of the MSU, finished counting, the Q&A turned confrontational. Five of the six who asked questions were from a Christian ministry called Truth Defenders, and to them, true Muslims wouldn’t accept the speaker’s flexible interpretation of Shariah. Continue reading “UC-Irvine’s Muslim Student Union Battles Injustice”

Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue

Radio profile aired by The California Report as the second story in the 20Something series, May 25, 2012

SWEAS: The sun has yet to rise over her beige suburban house an hour east of Los Angeles. But Ajarat Bada is up, Quran in her lap, practicing her Arabic. Continue reading “Nigerian Student Finds Her Faith in Dialogue”

Sex, lies, and hook-up culture: An interview with Donna Freitas

Edited interview published in U.S. Catholic, November 2008

Donna FreitasIt seems that easy sex is rampant on college campuses today, but new research from feminist theologian Donna Freitas reveals that students really want romance.


PDF of “Sex, lies, and hook-up culture”

Basic training

Photo story published in U.S. Catholic, November 2007

Catholic college students get schooled in peace and protest at the annual School of the Americas vigil.

Loyola students at SOA
Photo by Megan Sweas

“Close it down!” Patrick Eccles, a Loyola University Chicago chaplain, shouted to a group of 50 Loyola students about to embark on a trip to Columbus, Georgia to protest the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). “Close it down,” they replied weakly, seeming unsure of their voices, mission, and comrades.

Three days and 830 miles later, the students stood in a tight circle, arms around each other, waiting to return home. After praying together—for the victims of the SOA, for the efforts to close it, and for the community formed over the weekend&mdashthey repeated the call and response. “Close it down!” they yelled unabashedly this time, turning other protesters’ heads.

The moment was spontaneous—”a positive way to keep people together” when the bus was late—says Rachel Hart, a chaplain and trip organizer. Yet after a transformative weekend that was part spiritual retreat, part social action, and part community building, it was an appropriate “sending forth.”

“There was a community and a spirit of the group that didn’t just end in Georgia,” Hart says. …


PDF of “Basic training” (includes photography)

Marked for life

Published in U.S. Catholic, July 2007

Former full-time volunteers confess that their experiences change them for good.

Volunteer for good“This feels like a homecoming,” Beth Knobbe told a retreat group of both new and familiar faces-30 of her fellow alumni from Amate House, a Catholic lay volunteer program in Chicago. Knobbe actually lived with just a few of the retreatants when they were part of the program. Most of the alumni on the retreat were more recent Amate graduates, including eight who had just completed their service year in 2006, 10 years after Knobbe had finished hers. Still, Knobbe immediately felt connected to these young adults, who knew what the full-time volunteer experience was all about.

“All of us can admit that an experience like Amate changes us,” Knobbe said. “We use that wonderful phrase ‘ruined for life,’ which is to say, ‘you will never be the same.'” …


PDF of “Marked for life”

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