“But the LORD answered me,
Do not say, ‘I am too young.’
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.”
Jeremiah 1:7

As I have continued my “inventory of gratitude” that I mentioned in my email last week, it is becoming abundantly clear that there are three things that make Catholic Leadership Institute’s mission possible:

  1. Faith – the core of all we do
  2. Philanthropy – the spark that ignites transformative ministry
  3. Faces –the leaders, the doers, the ones who carry out our ministry, and the disciples who are leading others to Jesus. The faces of our ministry care deeply about the future of our faith. But they don’t just hope. They act intentionally, tirelessly, and with Jesus as their guide to make the future a reality.

Today I invite you to meet two of those faces: Alex and Katherine.

The Catholic leaders you invest in and empower – of all ages and demographics, with a myriad of talents and passion, and filled with a desire to forge the future of our Church – are making a difference at every level of parish life.

In gratitude, I am so happy to introduce you to these two young, passionate faces of Next Generation Parish Orlando who are instilling life, light, and leadership into formation of youth and young adults.

I hope that their stories and work help not just to make you feel the impact of your work… but to put faces to the momentous change you are inspiring.

A Community of Believers

St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park, Florida, has courageously embarked upon the Next Generation Parish endeavor. One of the highlights of this parish’s journey has been the creation of a parish plan that is guiding their community into the future… and creating space for new leaders to rise up within the parish. Two of those leaders are Alex and Katherine.

Through a blend of data analysis of our Disciple Maker Index results, interviews, discussions, and envisioning, , three clear priorities arose for the people of St. Margaret Mary:

  1. Spiritual Growth
  2. Engagement
  3. Formation of Youth and Young Adults

To ensure that this plan becomes more than just a hope, the parish has assigned volunteer leaders to drive forward the vision and goals. These volunteers are investing immense prayer, effort, and energy to propel their parish forward in each of these three areas.

A Heart for Young Leaders

One of the most critical factors of Next Generation Parish is the emphasis on engaging, empowering, and equipping the next generation leaders of our faith.

The two individuals you will meet below have become drivers of change, faith, and ownership. They have taken ownership of the Formation of Youth and Young Adults objective of their plan.

Meet Alex: Cheesecake, Community & Commitment to Young Catholics

Alex, a Young Adult minister at St. Margaret Mary and member of the Youth and Young Adult Priority team, got involved with the church’s new Young Adult Ministry. Born initially in 2018, this ministry started with brunch after Mass at the nearby Cheesecake Factory and has since bloomed from the ground up. Alex told CLI about the Young Adults’ Marian Mondays, a Rosary followed by supper, and Sacred Sundays, Mass and brunch. The ministry also offers different studies and has taken initiative to serve the greater community, with fundraisers for the local pregnancy center and a panel to discuss pro-life issues.

“I think what a lot of people are longing for is that sense of community and friendship and belonging, which I think this space has provided,” Alex told CLI. “I’m really proud to say we’ve still been able to do a lot of things in person...a lot of young adults are hungry for that community and St. Margaret Mary kept showing up...”

Meet Katherine: Confident Collegiate Leader

Katherine Murphy has been at St. Margaret Mary for five years… her call to join the Youth and Young Adult Priority Team was unexpected. A parish volunteer saw something special in Katherine and asked her to take a bigger role for this priority. That is the beauty of NGP – leaders are found, offered opportunities, and given the support to let their gifts shine.

Katherine told CLI, “As a college student, it’s been really amazing to see the young adult group grow throughout the past three years. They really have expanded and grown as a group and been so consistent.” She spoke of the critical need to continue forming the Church’s young people: “One of our main hopes for the future is to continue to see middle school and high school students grow in the Church and continue to participate throughout college and in the young adult group.”

Catalysts for Young Catholics

Through Catholic Leadership Institute’s research and experience, we know that increasing the visibility and participation of young leaders within every parish is essential. Alex and Katherine are just two of the many faces who have been called to step up, inspire others, and catalyze young people to carry forward the mission of our Church.

by Chad Peddicord

January 13, 2022

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