Where it all began. Three years ago I said YES to God, St. Ignatius, and the youth. My journey as a high school youth minister began. This picture was from my first day on the job. I was supposed to start working on Monday but Brian texted me late Friday night and said “Hey, the youth are going to Habitat for Humanity tomorrow, anyway you wanna go?” My instant response, Absolutely! There it all began 7am met up at St. Ignatius and headed off with my girl Jill our Echo Apprentice at the time with 10 teens to build a house. I instantly fell in love with it all. The teens, their stories, their faith, their desire to love God, and of course we were doing outreach. That day we got to sign some of the pillars of the house and on it I wrote, I pray through God’s will I can be the best youth minister I can be.
Through the years I’ve learned so much and St. Ignatius has been there through some of the most important years of my life. They got fresh engaged Sylvia. So we experienced a lot of “first” together. My St. Ignatius family was there for when Ben and I said I do. My first surgery. Bought our first house. Experienced our first and hopefully last 500 year flood. That’s only the short list.
I got to be a part of regular Sunday night Edge & Lifeteen, Mass, Upper Room, Trifectas, Retreats, Steubenville Conferences, Junior High Youth week, AYC, Catholic Heart Work Camp, Refugee Thanksgiving, Serve Saturday, Chi-Rho generation project, toiletry drive, Shadow Stations, Trunk-Or-Treat, Live Nativity, Crawfish Boil, Garage Sale, Lock-Ins, Senior Thursdays, Advent Social, Battlefield Houston, Adoration, Girls of Grace, and the list could continue forever.
I also experienced a lot of heartbreak. I’ve gone through a lot of change with my coworkers along side me.
I had the best mentor there ever was my first year, and he truly set me up to succeed. Brian’s actually never stopped mentoring me, that’s just who he is. I could always count on a good laugh possibly leading to crying when meeting with Marlon and Matt. They brought so much joy to my life. I also had to say goodbye to my soul sister Jill who was done with her Echo apprentice years at St. Ignatius and left for formation beginning her journey to consecrated life. Fiona taught me one of my favorite words ever, WOOF and taught me how poetically beautiful the Catechism is. Luis and Robert never stop making me laugh and I’m definitely their token friend they bring along to everything to laugh AT, not with. This year I was blessed to work with one of my best friends, Chris. I’ve really gotten to see him step in, take over, and make it all happen for the Glory of God, and he really really loves those teens. He reminds me a lot of fresh new youth minister Sylvia. I’ve had so much support from my formation “mommas” Kathy & Gracia, as they’ve been so motherly to me these past several years. I’ve also have been blessed to work alongside with amazing clergy, deacons, and rocking seminarians!
I experienced something I’ve never experienced at any other parish. ST. IGNATIUS YOUTH MINISTRY VOLUNTEERS. WOW. HOLY COW WOW. They are the heart of that program and are truly invested in doing God’s work through the young church. Each and everyone of them have hearts of gold and know the importance of truly setting these teens hearts on fire for God. Through all the change, they’ve been the constant. That will never ever change.
And then there’s the teens… cue the tears.
WOW, how I’m going to miss my little nuggets. You see everyone keeps wondering where Ben and I’s babies have been… well we just had 300+of them in their teenage years. I love y’all more than you could ever know, and you to have taught me so much. Getting to know your personalities, seeing your light bulb moments, going through heartbreak together, and truly being a witness in your faith journey. I’m humbled and honored by getting to know each and everyone of you. THANK YOU! Thank you for putting up with my moody little sleep deprived (after a 20 hour bus ride) self. Thank you for teaching me what it means to love strangers and love in really hard times. Thank you for sharing your hearts and lives with me. Thank you for leading me closer to God. Lastly, thank you for loving me so well. Please know I won’t ever stop praying for you and being here for you.
Through this journey I’ve sacrificed a lot of family and friend time. Relationships, nights, weekends, and even sometimes big moments in loved ones lives. Being a lay minister is hard y’all. I beg you to pray for them. Jesus told us to do his work, and even told us it wasn’t going to be easy. Now that, that’s off my chest…. With the many sacrifices it’s been Ben and I’s prayer for a year now. What now God? I’m tired. He kept telling me keep going, My will be done. So I did. It finally began to become full circle this summer. In my prayer God knew there needed to be a change especially because Ben and I are really praying to grow our family. I was also very much at peace with Chris and Dylan taking the reins. You see I’m a control freak and (like if I were a dying person), I couldn’t feel at peace leaving without someone there who I felt was going to make this place SHINE! It’s come full circle and my time at St. Ignatius as a youth minister has come to an end. So what’s next you may be wondering. Well first, VACATION we leave for Europe in 2 weeks, wohoo! I’ve also taken a position to be a full time Receptionist at another Parish. I’ve been praying for God to find me a job with a consistent schedule allowing for family time and for me to spend some more time on our family Etsy shop. Win, win. Again I can’t thank the St. Ignatius community for all the love they’ve shown me these past years. They welcomed me with open arms and have loved me every step of the way. Thank you, it’s been an honor serving you.
Lastly, I just want to thank my two white collared friends and by that I mean the boss boys!
Fr. Khoi, it’s been a complete blessing to get to know you over the past year. Seeing someone fresh in their vocation and truly living out God’s calling was a simple refreshing reminder I needed. Thank you for teaching me to love God, not settle for ugly graphics, how to plan a retreat like a Vietnamese machine, being a foodie to enjoy lunch with, taught me to not settle for Keurig coffee, and simply someone that radiates the JOY of the Gospel!
Fr. Norbert, THANK YOU! Thank you for giving me this opportunity, taking a chance on me, and investing in me. Thank you for being the great listener you were for many years. Thank you for picking me up when I most needed it and supporting me through these crazy years. Thank you for loving youth ministry. Thank you for your ‘yes’ to God. Lastly, thank you for shepherding this crazy little sheep.
Thank you God for the opportunity you gave me to serve the St. Ignatius youth! I humbly ask for your prayers, as you will be in ours. LOVE YOU ALWAYS!