Tonight I was invited to tell the Parish Council of St. Mary’s Church about our huge and growing community of adults who devote themselves to providing discipleship to the youth of St. Marys. When we combine the Life Teen core team, iCafe volunteers, other youth ministry volunteers, and everyone at any level who works to share the Gospel with teenagers via Inter-parish Youth Ministry, we arrive at a number heading towards 50 adults. Everyone should know about these people, and all that they are accomplishing. Tonight I was given the privilege of sharing the work of these amazing people with the Parish Council of St. Marys.
First, thank you to the amazingly talented team of volunteers who work so tirelessly for the cause of youth evangelism. Many thanks to Fr. Meinrad and Pam Smith for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to present all of this to the Parish Council, and thanks to Georgia Wagner for her exuberant encouragement to make this presentation in the first place. Thank you to the wonderful members of the parish council who made me feel so welcome. After having met the parish council and to see them gathered together and working, I am convinced there is reason for great optimism and the future is bright.
It is never hard for me to sing the praises of amazing people, and tonight I was able to proclaim the amazing work being done by people like John and Anita Detweiler of our Life Teen core team. They lead Life Teen teachings and we are working on our new SMAHS Catholic Life Teen Club. There are so many other Life Teen core team members who put forth such amazing efforts that I could not possibly fit them all here. Also included in this team are Mark Flacinski, Roseanne Ehrensberger, Tom and Kim Kerchinski, Linda Petruna, Mark Candalor, and so many others. We have such a great number of excellent Life Teen core team members that a single blog post could not do them justice.
The parish council meeting also learned about the success of our Wednesday night youth groups at which Mary Benigni, Mike and Jen Gelsick, and so many other adult volunteers participate. What a joy to share news of our daily iCafe activities where fine adults like Rich Aiello, Bonnie Pearson, Fuzzy Cappiella, Debby Kronenwetter, Roseanne Ehrensberger, and so many others contribute to a safe and fun environment for the kids. Our volunteer base is growing – and it needs to keep growing. There is more to do! This team is making a difference in the world. It is astounding to think of what is currently being accomplished.
How to fit a youth ministry program comprising so many elements into just a few minutes? The inspiration came from examining some of the old parish bulletins. Every year all parish bulletins are bound into book form and stored. There are nearly 50 years of bulletins archived at the parish. I went back – way back – to the 1960’s and started looking through many of the bulletins. As I moved from the 1960’s to the 1970’s and then on to the 1980’s and beyond, I realized that one day, perhaps 50 years from now, someone would be looking back at us, we who are here today, reading about what we have done today to plant seeds and build up the Church for the future. This lead to the idea of writing a letter from the perspective of a man in the year 2028 who is about to be ordained as a priest. He is thinking back to the difference his parents made in his life, and he recounts all the different ways that youth ministry was there to nurture his faith along the way. He mentions the social events, the faith sharing meetings, the retreats, the Eucharistic Adoration, the adult volunteers, the friendships made, and the lessons learned. This letter from the future helped to convey the values and the mission of all the people who come together to create such a miraculous collection of ministry offerings for the teens today.