Hello St. John’s families!

What a wonderful summer it has already been here at St. John! It has been a full couple of weeks for me as I have just recently returned from my service trip in Knoxville, TN with my youth group. On this trip the teens were able to serve in the localcommunity through service projects and outreach programs as well as have opportunities to grow in faith through the various witness talks, daily Mass, going to confession (with a retired cardinal and the Bishop of Knoxville!), and adoration every morning.

Having fully recovered from that recent trip, we just finished our Vacation Bible School program for our elementary school age children. Over the course of three days we learned the story of the Gospel of how God is our Creator, Jesus is our Savior, and now because of this we have the Holy Spirit inside of us!

As I continue on in this ministry, I have consistently gone back to my experiences of faith through my childhood and teen years(which to be honest, wasn’t that long ago!) and am very grateful for the ways that my family created a culture of faith in my own home. Most of you may know that I grew up in a rather large family with eight siblings. While we definitely were not perfect, one beautiful gift that I received growing up was the belief that my faith was to be the utmost importance in my life. We were encouraged to pray often, together as a family as well as in our personal time. We attended Mass together every Sunday. And as my family has faced hardships through the past couple of years, I have no doubt that the habits of faith and the grace that we received through frequenting the sacraments got us through.

Now that I am no longer with my family as often, it has been so wonderful to feel like I have inherited more family here at St. John. I love seeing families attend Mass together, interacting with you all at different church functions, and getting to be a small part in some of your faith journeys. As our Faith Formation department starts taking new steps in our plans for our Religious Education program this coming year, we really want to emphasize the importance of family.

More and more research is pointing to the fact that children in our society are making decisions of faith by the time they are in middle school. This means by the time a child is in their early teens, they are deciding whether they want to invest in lifelong faith. Part of my passion as a youth minister is to be a voice that shouts how much God loves them and how it’s a life changing kind of love. However, while I love the opportunities I get to model this truth to our kids, I know that it is the parents that are the real superheroes in this crisis of faith that our kids are facing today. The family is where kids learn to love in real ways, learn to pray, and understand how to interact with God outside of church walls.

Our job as a Faith Formation Department is to support you and equip you as you teach your children what it looks like to live out their faith. Keep an eye out in the bulletin for all the upcoming events that we have for families and people of all ages. Take advantage of these opportunities so that we can all grow together. That’s the heart behind our ministry here at St. John and we want you to be a part of it, no matter where you are at in your own faith journey.

I know I would not be where I am if it had not been for the example of my parents and for their daily commitment to the Lord. Imagine what our church–even our world–might be like if every one of our kids here at St. John knew just how deeply they were loved by the Lord and desired to have a relationship with Him. One of my prayers for our parish family is that this might be a reality someday.

To being family together,


Clare Kolenda

Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation