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Grotto Network Seeks to Bring Faith to Young Adults

| April 2, 2024 | By

In a secularized world, reconnecting young people with their faith is a profound challenge. However, the Grotto Network, an innovative media initiative, is taking a fresh approach to this mission.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Javi Zubizarreta, the founder of the Grotto Network. He provided insight and the highlights about this unique project.

The Origins and Inspiration

The Grotto Network was born out of the University of Notre Dame's desire to expand its media presence beyond just athletics and academics.

As Zubizarreta explains, "It has a mission to support young people who have left the Church and to meet them where they are at. There was a desire to share the Good News through the New Evangelization."

The name "The Grotto" is a nod to the famous Grotto of Lourdes in France, a Marian pilgrimage site that holds deep personal significance for Zubizarreta.

"The Grotto represents an interesting place in the Catholic Church. It's a place of beauty, of peace, where anyone can feel at ease. It's a place where they didn't feel preached at," he says.

Like the cave that Elijah encountered God in the stillness or Saint Bernadette met the Blessed Virgin Mary it is a place of wonderment. At a grotto, you experience the mystery of God and natural beauty at the same time.

Grottos are a great place to encounter God at all stages but in a natural manner. These natural shrines evoke curiosity and are a way the Lord meets individuals intimately.

The Grotto at Lourdes also provided the inspiration for a smaller-scale replica on the Notre Dame campus, behind the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Content and Approach

The Grotto Network's content is tailored specifically for young adults aged 20 to 30, helping them navigate the big and small questions that arise during this pivotal stage of life. This includes documentary shorts, editorial articles, and an active presence on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Crucially, the Network's approach is one of gentle persuasion rather than overt proselytization. "Our work is in the pre-evangelization stage,"

Zubizarreta further explains. "The people we are trying to reach are those on the fence about the church. Creating that consideration of the church."

There are great movements and apostolates geared towards evangelizing youth people, yet a gap exists in the pre-evangelization stage. The Grotto Network serves young adults at this time in their life.


Partnerships and Next Steps

While the Grotto Network itself focuses on building initial trust and interest, it partners with other organizations to guide individuals further along the path of faith when they're ready. This includes a pilot program to help with community-building, mental-health support, and connections with local parishes.

The team is also exploring potential collaborations with social-media influencers, provided there's a rigorous vetting process to ensure alignment with the site's values.

The Grotto Network hosts frequent in-person events in its Chicago location -- trivia nights, service projects, and post-Mass brunches, primarily targeting college students and recent graduates in the area. This on-the-ground approach serves as a trial run for potential expansion to other cities.

For Zubizarreta, the online audience remains the primary focus. The Grotto Network seeks to reach those who have one foot in Catholicism and one foot in the “unaffiliated” (in terms of religious identifiers on censuses) world.


The Future of Faith Outreach Inspired by the work of Sherry Weddell, the network aims to build trust and relationships first. It gradually introduce elements of faith and belief. As Zubizarreta puts it, "Before we can get into the beauty of the Church, you have to spark the interest of why faith in Christ matters."

With its innovative content, strategic partnerships, and community-focused events, Grotto Network is blazing a new trail in faith outreach, reigniting the spark of belief one young adult at a time. It’s the perfect safe place to explore truth without feeling the need to rush your faith journey. Learn more about the Grotto Network today.

And, it doesn't take itself too seriously ...


Image: YouTube screenshot/Grotto Network

Matthew is a left-handed cradle Catholic who enjoys reading everything Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Chesterton, and is also an avid comic-book fan. He and wife Jennifer have four children. Matthew’s favorite saints include Athanasius, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri and John of the Cross. Discover more of his Catholic content by visiting: TheSimpleCatholic.

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