by Kate Riley
I like to say that I am a product of our diocese; a child of our diocese, if you will.
Growing up, my family attended a small parish in western Maryland that had a grand total of three other kids in the youth group. But our priest was amazing: he understood the need for us to have a greater community and to have opportunities to build connections with other young people going on this same, crazy journey of growing up. He made it his top priority to arrange events where we met and befriended youth from other churches and denominations across the region, all so we could share this journey of faith together.
It was important to our priest we had the opportunities to build these relations, to share new experiences, and to learn skills to help us through life. He took us to Nightwatch, to diocesan events, and I really think he was an all-around role model for how youth ministry should be run on a parish level.
I was involved in diocesan ministries and events from an early age: from Claggett, to Convention, to Nightwatch. These youth programs built a spiritual foundation that led to my year of ministry with the Episcopal Service Corps, and finally back to our diocese as our Youth Minister.
My upbringing gave me a firsthand understanding of how important a strong youth ministry is to a parish. It’s so important to use these formative years to broaden horizons of our children and connect them with people of differing backgrounds and experiences.
Don’t just take me as an example; I think the clergy and lay leadership of our diocese boasts a big testimony to the positive impact of our youth programs. Some of our alumnae from our youth and young adult ministries include:
- Claire Scarborough, who works in the Development Office of our diocese
- Jess Pandolfino, on our Communications Team here at our diocese
- Kaitlyn Lengyel, the Cathedral Administrator
- Hannah Graham, who is now the formation minister at St. Andrews, Glenwood
- Spencer Hatcher, the former Camp Director at the Claggett Center
- Rita Yoe, the current Camp Director at the Claggett Center
Youth ministry builds the foundation for the church’s future. Without robust youth programs, without giving kids a space where they can explore themselves and their faith, there is a vacuum in our community. If we are trying to build a “Community of Love” in our diocese, then it’s even more important that we ensure our youth feel included, wanted, and welcomed on both a parish and diocesan level. I am so proud to work in a diocese that puts this priority on raising up our youth and preparing them for leadership inside and outside their church walls. I look forward to working hand in hand with our youth, our laity, and our clergy as we continue on this grand journey of faith together.
-Kate Riley, Youth Ministry Coordinator
Youth Ministries are made possible through your generous gift to the Bishop’s Appeal. Please consider making a gift to support us today!