CSA 2021: Helping parishes lead young people to Christ, together


This is part of a series of articles about the impact diocesan ministries supported by the Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA) have on local parishes and schools.

Youth Ministry staff for the Jefferson City diocese offered resources and creative, concrete help for parishes to offer faith-building activities for young people this summer.

They also began helping parishes make the transition to a powerful new system for keeping track of data throughout the diocese. This is a crucial step in helping parishioners stay connected while putting their gifts of time, talent and treasure to best use.

The pandemic shut down many activities for young people this summer, but Bishop McKnight was adamant that parishes should move forward in providing appropriate faith-enrichment opportunities for young people.

Three teams of young Catholic missionaries worked with John DeLaporte, director of Youth Ministry for the diocese, to offer “Totus Tuus” at parishes throughout the diocese.

The program gives children and young adults an opportunity to grow in knowledge of their faith in a fun and engaging environment.

“We were thrilled to still bring in a Totus Tuus team this past summer, despite the pandemic,” Renee Molner, director of youth ministry at St. Thomas More Newman Center and Sacred Heart parishes in Columbia.

“It honestly went better than we could’ve hoped for,” she said.

Mr. DeLaporte and the Totus Tuus team worked with Ms. Molner to make sure the experience would be safe and meaningful.

 “He and his staff gave us the encouragement and resources needed to continue to minister to the teens during a time when we couldn’t actually meet up but ministry was needed more than ever,” said Ms. Molner.

This was the first year for Totus Tuus at St. Martin parish in St. Martins.

“We were so looking forward to the huge turnout and all the fun that comes with it,” stated Mark McGuire, the parish’s pastoral minister. “But when the pandemic hit and then everything started to slide out of everyone’s control, we thought we would have to forgo this great opportunity.”

Mr. DeLaporte and the Totus Tuus missionaries pressed forward, offering several options, including a virtual experience recorded in Brinktown and Starkenburg.

“We were so fortunate to host an in-person event for our day and night program,” said Mr. McGuire. “And although it was smaller due to restrictions and had all the pandemic protocols, it was still the same faith- and fun-filled event our parish needed for our youth and families.”

Youthful energy

Immaculate Conception Parish in Brookfield did not have an active youth group and rarely participated in diocesan-wide activities until Mr. DeLaporte ramped up the diocese’s efforts at youth ministry in the northern part of the diocese.

“We became a part of a larger community of youth ministers,” said Barbara Garvey, the parish’s youth minister. “Our parish has taken groups to the last two National Catholic Youth Conferences in Indianapolis.”

Immaculate Conception hosted a NET team to reinvigorate youth ministry two years ago and collaborated with neighboring St. Mary Parish in Shelbina to do the same last year. Several young parishioners have taken part in diocesan youth events, including Camp Siena and the diocesan Youth Summit conducted virtually on Bishop McKnight’s behalf.

This summer, Immaculate Conception had the largest number of young people taking part in the diocesan CHRISTpower Challenge, delivering meals and unloading trucks at the local food pantry.

“The Young Church is energetic and has a desire to make a difference,” said Mrs. Garvey.

The parish has formed a youth council and plans to reestablish its Catholic Youth Organization and organize more projects to address local social concerns and continue forming young people in the faith.

“I have so appreciated the friendship and support of John DeLaporte and his staff,” said Mrs. Garvey. “Without the support and guidance they have provided, I don’t think any of this would have happened.”

More information about this year’s CSA can be found online at: diojeffcity.org.