Things have gone swimmingly for the new young adult ministry program at Mary Star of the Sea Parish.

Books & Snorkels, as its name suggests, offers the unique pairing of a book discussion and a snorkeling excursion.

About to mark its one-year anniversary, the group meets every other Sunday, with the next installment set for today, Feb. 4.

Open to young adults in their 20s and 30s, the group gathers at 12:30 pm in a conference room inside the parish office, where members enjoy a half-hour of socializing over brunch items that they’ve brought back from a nearby coffeeshop.

The book discussion runs from about 1 to 2 pm, beginning with an icebreaker and introductions.

The parish’s young adult leader, Joline Mann, who started the group, said she prepares a set of discussion questions for each meeting. But, oftentimes, attendees come with their own insights to share….

After their book discussion, the group walks a few feet down Girard Avenue to La Jolla Swim & Sport, where they rent their snorkeling gear, and spend about an hour snorkeling at La Jolla Cove. They typically wrap up around 3:30 pm….

Typically, about 15 to 20 people attend Books & Snorkels. About half of them participate in the snorkeling, said Mann, and about one-quarter of the non-snorkelers watch from the beach….

Its first book selection was The Art of Living: The Cardinal Virtues and the Freedom to Love by Edward Sri.

Among the subsequent books was The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Father Gereon Goldmann, the autobiographical account of a German seminarian (and later priest) who was drafted into the SS during the Second World War and risked his life ministering to others.

Today the group will begin reading In Defense of Purity: An Analysis of the Catholic Ideals of Purity and Virginity by Dietrich von Hildebrand….

To mark the group’s one-year anniversary, she said, there are plans to spend a weekend in Julian, “reading our books, hiking, watching Catholic movies (and) growing in fellowship.”

John McGonegal, a member of Mary Star of the Sea Parish, and Valerie Kassab, who attends Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, have been with Books & Snorkels since the beginning.

The group was a natural fit for McGonegal, who describes himself as “a self-proclaimed ‘book guy’” and “a big outdoor person….”

From the Southern Cross