Young people answer the call to imitate Christ

March 26, 2013

As the leaders of the Catholic Church gathered in Rome to discern a new leader, the young Church of Galveston-Houston gathered for their own discernment of leadership. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is famous for saying, “The world offers you comfort. You were not made for comfort, but for greatness.” 

Early in March over 100 youth gathered at Circle Lake Retreat Center to respond to this call, the call to greatness, and the call to serve others through the Archdiocesan Youth Council. 

The Archdiocesan Youth Council, established in 1994, gathers young leaders from around the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. 

These young men and women are nominated by parish youth ministry leaders and campus ministry leaders to represent their respective parishes or schools. 

The mission of the council is “to imitate Christ’s servant leadership in serving as the voice of the young Church and facilitating programming for the youth of the Archdiocese.” 

This year more than 140 young people were nominated. All of the nominees, both first time and returnees, are required to attend the discernment weekend in March. 

The weekend contains many different elements that help in the discernment process. The youth are given the chance to get to know each other and grow as a community through icebreakers and games. 

They hear talks about what it means to be on Youth Council, about being a leader, about communication and responsibility. They gather in small groups for discussion and to complete different tasks to see how well they work with others. But most importantly they spend a lot of time in prayer: praise and worship, Stations of the Cross, the rosary, guided meditation, journaling and quiet reflection. 

By the end of the weekend, the youth are asked to discern for themselves whether they want to be on the Archdiocesan Youth Council. They are asked to consider time commitment, the amount of work required and whether or not they are ready to be a leader. 

At the close of the weekend 124 young men and women, representing 51 parishes and seven Catholic high schools answered the call and were discerned to be members of the council. 

Once being discerned to be on the council all members will serve on one of seven committees. These seven committees are The Quest: Junior High Leadership Program, Peacemakers: Junior High Social Justice Program, Junior High Youth Rally, CSI: Catholic Summer Immersion, Archdiocesan Youth Conference, Hospitality Crew and Youth for Life. 

As part of the committee the members serve as the planning team for these Archdiocesan events and programs and advocate for the needs of young people. 

Additionally, the council serves as a resource to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo on the current needs and issues that face teenagers.

Of the 124 members of the council, 28 were also discerned to be a part of the Youth Council leadership team. 

The leadership team gathers in May and along with the adult advisors plans the three main gatherings of the youth council: the August community building and committee work day, the December spiritual retreat and the March discernment retreat. 

Several members of the leadership team were asked what attributes make a good leader. 

Hannah Sokora, representing Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood, said, “A good leader must be an example to others. They should follow the rules, have respect for others, take responsibility for their actions, stand up for what they believe in and help people when they are in need. One does not make themselves a leader. A leader is chosen by the people because they have been recognized as a role model.” 

Renee Schulze, representing Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe, said, “Actions speak louder than words; therefore, a good leader leads by example. Leaders need to be selfless and realize they are called to serve and not to be served. It is very important for leaders to understand others and be able to inspire them.” 

Stephanie Saucedo, representing St. Pius V Catholic Church in Pasadena, said, “A good leader should be understanding and compassionate. They should not judge others but take the time to understand them and care for them. They should be able to say no to doing what is wrong and stand up for what they believe in. A good leader always prays for wisdom before making a decision.” 

The 124 members of the Archdiocesan Youth Council represent the largest number to ever serve on the council. These young people, over the next year will serve as leaders and role models in their parish as well as the Archdiocese as a whole. 

More and more young people every year are answering the call to serve the Church. They recognize in themselves the desire to do something great with their lives. Not greatness in terms of fame or fortune but in terms of imitating Christ and serving others.