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Revamping Youth Ministry

Mr.+Connealy+gives+a+brief+overview+of+the+Rosary+and+encourages+students+to+lead+the+decades.+Although+this+tradition+was+started+last+year%2C+it+has+officially+become+a+part+of+youth+ministry.
Mr. Connealy gives a brief overview of the Rosary and encourages students to lead the decades. Although this tradition was started last year, it has officially become a part of youth ministry.

Mr. Connealy gives a brief overview of the Rosary and encourages students to lead the decades. Although this tradition was started last year, it has officially become a part of youth ministry.

Andrew Nigro

Andrew Nigro

Mr. Connealy gives a brief overview of the Rosary and encourages students to lead the decades. Although this tradition was started last year, it has officially become a part of youth ministry.

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Youth ministry is revamping its identity on campus. It was founded in 2010 with the Men of Benedict youth rally festival that attracted over 450 boys and girls from different high schools.The youth rally only carried on for two years, but Men of Benedict continued to be a smaller presence in the community by teaching about Benedictine spirituality to its students.

“We want the youth ministry to be very vibrant with a lot of opportunities for students to experience activities such as Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction, the Rosary, and other rituals based on Benedictine spirituality,” Head of School Dr. David Peters said. “Through [the youth ministry], people will be able to be more active in their faith.”

Father John Hagemann, the youth ministry leader, is busy with duties around the monastery, including gardening, working the farmers market, and being the music director. He has accepted the help of deans Jacob Connealy ‘11 and Paul Hotovy ‘07 with the management of the youth ministry. Both deans, active in their faith, stepped up to fulfill the role of actively reaching out to students.  They will participate in service activities and help others enrich their faith.

“The way to reach people is in small group discussions. You find individuals that want to have a relationship with Christ and help them grow,” Connealy said.

On Aug. 24, Connealy and Hotovy attended a meeting at Skutt about being effective youth ministry leaders. Hotovy recalls the key themes of discipleship and evangelizing students.

“There is no magic bullet to youth ministry,” Hotovy said. “There is no one event that is going to get everyone on fire. It is a slow process of one person talking to another.”

Connealy acquired ministry experience in college by participating in Focus, which is the

Fellowship of Catholic University Students. According to Connealy, it includes missionaries who are just out of college that go to different colleges to help people grow in their faith through discipleship. He has used that experience to help evangelize students.

“[Focus] layered a foundation for me to see what type of ministry was needed to use to bring others closer to their faith, which is discipleship,” Connealy said. “We wanted to create a spiritual multiplier which is bringing people to a point in their journey where they go out and multiply the disciples.”

Activities have already been planned for the beginning of the school year. One involves playing cards with the elderly while another is outdoor work at the Desoto National Wildlife Center. Events like these provide students with more opportunities to gain service hours as well as build a community among students and other people throughout their communities.

“Having the deans who are committed to helping with youth ministry will help us have more opportunities for people to help others,” Dr. Peters said. “It will be more of the campus ministry who will plan the activities instead of just the theology department.”

The two deans have also started more religious events that are open to boarders and any day students who want to come and join. Included in these are the Rosary and Adoration. Confessions are also available to students and staff members during Adoration when possible.

“These opportunities have allowed me to grow closer in my faith in God and has given me the inspiration to bring others closer to Him,” Patrick Fayad ‘19 said.

Fayad has participated in many of the events planned for youth ministry. As a member of Men of Benedict, Fayad believes the youth ministry program has increased its prominence

within the school.

“I hardly knew that youth ministry was even a thing here until one day when I walked by the center staircase and saw three posters on the wall posted,” Fayad said. “I was ecstatic because it was becoming more active.”

According to Dr. Peters, the youth ministry department plans to expand even further when the new building is complete. Next, to the counselor center on the left side of the building, there will be a campus ministry office. This will make the youth ministry a more visible part of the community.

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Revamping Youth Ministry