John Smestad joined Catholic Leadership Institute as a Leadership Consultant in 2023. He has almost thirty years of experience serving the Church in professional ministry in fields including youth ministry, young adult ministry, religious education, leadership development, and pastoral planning. John currently serves as Youth Minister at St. Dominic Parish and neighboring St. Pius X Parish in New Orleans. Additionally, he is the Campus Minister and Chair of the Theology Department at Cabrini High School in New Orleans.
Prior to his work at Cabrini, he served for seventeen years at the Archdiocese of New Orleans, first as Director of CYO/Youth & Young Adult Ministry with responsibility for conferences, retreats, pilgrimages, athletic leagues, and leadership formation, and then as Executive Director of Pastoral Planning working with parishes, archdiocesan offices, and an archdiocesan general synod.
John holds a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University New Orleans and an undergraduate degree in History and Secondary Education. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and recipient of the Order of St. Louis Award from the Archdiocese of New Orleans and a National Catholic Youth Ministry Award from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.
Outside of work in ministry, John enjoys traveling within the USA (37 states so far) and in Europe, history (books and museums,) live jazz, and following musician Jimmy Buffett on his concert tours.