Letters to the Editor

Effective Youth Minister

Dear Editor: Thank you, David Powell, for your fitting tribute to Dr. Michael Warren. Mike Warren was a most formative influence in my life as well.

I first met him in 1978, as a fledgling parish youth minister, while participating in a five-day national youth ministry educational conference at Cathedral College, sponsored by St. John’s University. Mike was the principal organizer of this conference, which subsequently became a yearly conference. These annual conferences brought together adults, throughout the country, seeking direction in the many facets of ministry to, for, and with young people; the conferences were substantive and empowering.

Mike convened some of the finest practitioners in the field of youth and pastoral ministry to conduct workshop sessions and lectures. He, himself, was renowned as one of the seminal thinkers and authors in the field, and he too offered innovative and groundbreaking workshop sessions.

These annual conferences solidified my decision to pursue a theology degree at St. John’s University and to seek Mike as a teacher. In his classes, he fostered my ability to think discerningly and systemically. He reminded me that the primary function of a youth minister was to be present to and with young people, and to encourage them in the discovery of their own faith journeys; it was not about giving God to them, but rather, to help each young person recognize how God was already operating in their lives.

Mike was fond of saying, “Faith is not so much taught, but caught.”

He recognized that effective ministry happens within the context of a loving community. He also helped me to uncover the often overlooked, yet powerful, impact that social structures (the media, military, market, fashion industry, etc.) have on young people and how these structures ultimately shape our collective values.


Port Jefferson Station L.I.

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