Diocesan Youth Leadership Team Continues Its Good Work
The Diocesan Youth Leadership Team has been a part of the Diocese of Evansville for many years, and has gathered youth from around the diocese together to be united in friendship, faith, and outreach to others – without showing any signs of slowing down.
Father Jason Gries and Father Alex Zenthoefer were members of DYLT while they were in high school. “It was an opportunity to get to know other young people my age living their faith,” Father Alex explained. “That was an exceptional gift for me that really carried me through my seminary discernment. Secondly, it allowed me to use my leadership skills to serve the Church. It might sound odd, but there weren't a whole lot of opportunities for that.”
“I think DYLT is the best way to create strong, Christ-centered leaders for the future of the Church,” said DYLT vice-president Kate Bittner of Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch.
Becky Siewers was involved with DYLT during her time as a youth minister at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Haubstadt. “We had monthly meetings that involved both adults as well as young people,” Siewers explained. “The youth led the meetings and brought up the ideas, while the adults mentored the youth and helped them develop their ideas.”
“It wasn't about passively receiving, but actively giving to others. I guess in a sense it was a little about evangelization,” Father Jason said.
“One of the goals of DYLT was to bring kids together who were active in their faith and their parishes,” Siewers added. “We helped them to recognize that they were not alnoe, but that there were many youth on a diocesan-wide level who were involved with their faith.”
“It helped me to see that Church wasn't just adults planning for youth without any contact with youth,” Father Jason reflected. “It was that we were a part of the planning, and execution of events. In fact, we were Church.”
Diocesan Youth Days, which later became known as the Diocesan Youth Rally, have parts of DYLT from its earliest days. DYLT members planned the gatherings and gave the youth the opportunity to put their leadership skills to work. DYLT also hosted smaller events, such as service projects, social events, or prayer experiences.
DYLT has expanded over the past few years under the direction of Steve Dabrowski, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. For the members, DYLT is still the strong faith community that it has always been known to be. “DYLT has made me more confident and more interested in being involved with the Church. It has also helped me to meet other teens like me who are like-minded in serving Christ and being His hands and feet,” said Bittner.
“DYLT has really helped me become more involved in the diocese,” said Melissa Blythe, current DYLT President. “It’s given me the opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills while also brainstorming ways to involve youth in our diocese. Involvement in the Church does and will always remain an important priority in my life.”
The DYLT, with its strong foundation of the past, also has a bright future. “I think it’s important to have a DYLT so young people realize the impact they can create,” Blythe reflected. “It is important for us to be passionate about our diocese and the activities involved with our diocese.”
“I hope that DYLT can continue to gather young people who care about their faith and give them a place to share it with one another and with young people in the diocese,” Father Jason said.
“It can serve the simple purpose of being a place of friendship in the faith as it was for me,” Father Alex added. “I hope it doesn't get bogged down with tasks and can be a place where young people can grow in confidence to share their experience of Christ.”
“They are good role models, and they show the diocese that there are young people who are involved and want to be involved in the Church, so that they can be active in their parishes as adults as well,” Siewers said.
The current DYLT is planning a Reunion Mass for all past, present, and future DYLT members; all are invited to attend! More updates on this event and future events will be publicized as they become available. For more information, contact Melissa Blythe, current DYLT President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.