I received a CD in the mail this week – the first release from a very talented young lady named Renee Geronimo. I have known Renee for over 10 years now through youth ministry and while we never super-close friends, I have followed her (in a non-stalkerish way) over the past few years on Facebook as she furthered her music career. Thus, I was absolutely thrilled when she messaged me in mid-April offering to send me a copy of her new CD called “lilies and sparrows”.
Upon receiving the CD, I immediately popped it into my computer and listened to it on repeat throughout my work day. It is a wonderful collection of songs, each one with its own unique style and feel. There’s a bit for everyone: some pop, some folk, some soul and some worship. And over-arching the entire CD is the theme of God’s love and power – you can really sense Renee’s love for God and devotion to her faith. Have a listen to the entire CD here.
However, even more touching than the music was the simple hand-written note that Renee included in the package. With her permission, I am posting it below:
Without getting into too much of the back story, the simple version is that Renee served with my good friend Andrea as part of the youth ministry at St. Matthew’s Parish in the early 2000s and Andrea and her team (including Renee) were involved in the planning of Youth Day 2001.
Thus, I was moved to read that that simple invitation was a catalyst in a life-changing summer for Renee – one that reaffirmed her belief in God and her faithfulness to the Catholic Church. Now, a dozen years later, Renee is not only involved in her parish but also following her dream to be a professional musician and music instructor all while giving glory to God through her music.
This is why we do what we do in youth ministry.
This is why we lead. Why we encourage. Why we affirm. Why we challenge. Why we cheerlead. Why we advocate.
This is why we spend time praying for the young people we shepherd. Why we put hours into planning our parish youth ministry gatherings or archdiocesan events. Why we get so excited when we see a young person step outside of her comfort zone in the name of the Lord. And why we get so hurt when we see a young person suffer or endure disappointment.
We do this to make a difference.
We do this to make an impact in the lives of young people.
We do this not to lead young people closer to ourselves.
We do this to point young people toward God and to lead them into an encounter with Him so that they may feel his awesome love.
So to everyone involved in youth ministry – whether you’re a parish youth ministry coordinator, core team member, volunteer, parent, teacher, campus minister, chaplain, priest, sister, religious, driver, or the person who cleans up after our mess: thanks for who you are and for all you do.
YOU make a difference.