Up Front and Personal

The Grace of Youth Ministry in Whitestone

by Tom Lynch

I am the youth ministry coordinator at Holy Trinity parish in Whitestone. I was commissioned in 2008 from the Pastoral Institute’s Lay Ministry Program. I absolutely believe that studying in that program was crucial, not only in my discerning to work with the youth, but also in giving me the tools that have enabled me to become a dedicated and spiritual leader.

For the past four years at Holy Trinity, we have had a junior youth ministry known as the MVPs (Mission Very Possible), which is for children in junior high school. This year, we also initiated our senior youth ministry for high school and college-aged young adults known as the VIPs (Vision In Progress.) This is a service ministry that does many projects. There are different types of community projects for each group, but on most occasions, we combine the groups and the approximately 40 youths do God’s work together. Donna Spoto, also a commissioned lay pastoral leader (Class of 2003), and Marylou Copobianco assist me, as well as many other adults who help when needed.

The most rewarding part of my ministry is watching young people doing Christ’s work among those in need. One of the greatest things I get to witness as a youth minister is children receiving God’s grace, which is manifested as feelings of joy, empathy and compassion that are awakened within each of them when they work on their projects.

I am truly amazed how often these graces and acts of kindness become part of the children’s daily lives as they become beacons of God’s love to others. Living their faith in action is as rewarding to them as it is to those to whom they minister.

A few examples of the many projects worked on this past year are: hosting a luncheon for the senior members of our parish; helping to set up and clean up after Holy Trinity’s Oktoberfest celebration dinner, as well as running the games and crafts for all the children; helping the people affected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy by collecting and donating approximately eight tons of canned and packaged foods; and shopping for and making hundreds of sandwiches every weekend to hand out to the hungry at Sandy crisis centers. During the Lenten season, the youth ministry also helped with our annual soup and Stations of the Cross suppers.

This ministry has been a great addition to our parish. I believe that in many ways the children and youth have brought a new perspective to all the adult parishioners who see them always at the forefront of any volunteer service. Youth ministry coordinates so many service projects that work with the elderly and poor in our community that I believe this has resulted in a great sense of admiration and encouragement on the part of all the parishioners. I also believe that these ministries serve as great role models for all the children in the school and community on many levels. But most importantly we can see the work of the Holy Spirit within our parish through the exchange of love, respect and faith between the many generations working together to make our parish, the community and the world a little better.

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