YAP envisions a community where young adults are accompanied and formed to become the next leaders of their workplaces, communities, and parishes by connecting them with fellow young adult Catholics and successful professional mentors.

Meet Our

It was 2020 when Andrew and Maria noticed a need for new Catholic leaders in their day-to-day work at St. Benedict in Amherst. They saw many young talented professionals around the parish who had no inclusive community; a group where they felt welcome regardless of where they were spiritually.

Recognizing that many of our young adults struggle to integrate their faith with their work, they decided to try connecting them through professional development that incorporates spiritual growth.

Young Adult Professionals – YAP – grew out of the existing young adult ministry at St. Benedict, but added a further dimension of professional development skills to the ongoing spiritual and social events that had already been successful. Taking inspiration from the structure of the Leadership Roundtable – ESTEEM program, as well as Young Catholic Professionals, a national organization, they began with a grant from the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo along with a donation from Uniland Development.

The first YAP event was a workshop called “What is a Leader? What is a Catholic leader?” with Jeffrey Papia. In 2023, programming has expanded even further with their first networking event, a new Dinner & Discussion series, the launch of their first Mentorship program, Men’s and Women’s prayer groups, a Mom’s group, and a Young Family group.

Maria ChomiCka

Maria works as Pastoral Associate at St. Benedict and St. Leo the Great Parishes in Amherst, NY. She coordinates communications and social media for both parishes, and directs the music ministry at St. Ben’s. A professionally trained organist and pianist, Maria can often be found playing at concerts and other events around WNY. She has recently finished her Masters in Theological Studies at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, and is always seeking new ways to bring faith, music, and people together, hoping to bring more beauty and love into the world. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and trying out the latest foodie cafes and restaurants in WNY. 


Andrew has been a dedicated Catholic parish ministry worker for over 14 years. He started out helping with everthing from maintenance to “some administrative stuff” at St. Lawrence R.C. Church, and now holds the title of Pastoral Associate of Catechesis and Evangelization at both St. Benedict and St. Leo the Great in Amherst. Born and raised in Western New York, he has a BS in Applied Sociology from Buffalo State University and is passionate about bringing the joy of the Gospel to people through new and exciting approaches. A self-professed “pizza and diet Pepsi addict” he also loves camping, singing, tap dancing, cooking, hiking, watching football, Star Wars, Marvel, traveling, and spending time with his wife Jen. Andrew is a mediocre golfer and bowler, but an expert at bringing smiles wherever he goes.


Leah is the Campus Minister at the University at Buffalo’s Newman Center. Before taking on this role, she worked as a teacher for K-8th grade students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Professionally, Leah aims to guide others to be caring members of their communities, develop leadership and personal management skills, and grow spiritually. She is also a new wife and mother who loves spending time with her growing family, painting, and being outside (preferably somewhere with water).


Josh is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University at Buffalo. He also is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Canisius College and the pastoral associate and business manager of the University at Buffalo’s Newman Center. After defending his dissertation, Josh aims to begin a career in higher education administration while continuing to teach. 

Our Core Young Adult Professional Values


Establish a mentorship program, professional and spiritual

Deliver workshops for profession-specific competencies

Provide networking opportunities with successful professionals


Offer prayer opportunities – Masses, Holy Hours, annual retreat, etc.  

Coordinate opportunities to bring Christ into their lives, workplaces, and community


Serve the Church and broader WNY community using their professional skills

Collaborate with experienced Catholic professionals to create a community of belonging

Host social gatherings

Young Adult Professionals Buffalo NY