by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When did you join St. Lambert parish, and how have they helped strengthen your faith?
Eric: My family joined St. Lambert parish in 2010. The biggest grace I have received in being a member at St. Lambert is experiencing what it means to be a parish family. In so many ways we come together to share and give thanks for the many gifts that God has given us and work together to provide a home for our young people to encounter and grow in their relationship with Christ.
Eric: I studied at the Augustine Institute for five years and graduated in May 2016 with a Master’s in Theology. The program, with it’s focus on the New Evangelization, directly influenced my work at the Diocese, my life of prayer, and view of the Church in only good ways.
Gordon: What inspired your to become a youth minister?
Eric: I was influenced in many ways by adults who helped me mature in the Christian faith and since I was in high school I have desired to share what I have received.
Gordon: What are your principal responsibilities as Director of Youth Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls?
Eric: I am responsible for supporting parishes in their youth ministry efforts. This involves providing consultation and formation opportunities for those who work with youth as well as offering events that support and encourage the youth to live out the Gospel.
Gordon: Could you comment on the David Masci’s report on Why Millennials are less religious than older Americans?
Eric: The article is a good read and very thought-provoking. For the most part, it seems to reflect well my own experience of youth ministry. Pope Francis continues to challenge the church to go outside of itself. This is an extremely difficult concept for millennials and “older Americans” to understand.
Eric: I enjoy simply sharing my own experience and thoughts which right now are primarily focused on the model of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry, which is essentially a model that seeks to cultivate and atmosphere in a parish where our young people are able to respond to the unique workings of the Lord in their lives and the parish is encouraging and supportive through that journey.
Gordon: Profiles in Catholicism is fortunate featuring you review of Sherry Waddell’s book Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples in a recent issue. What impact has her work to inspire the Intentional Disciple movement on the Diocese of Sioux Falls.
Eric: Sherry’s work has been extremely influential on the work and ministry within the Diocese of Sioux Falls are arguably around the entire world. Recognizing that many within the Church do not have an accurate understanding of what it means to be an intentional disciple, to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that the Church exists to evangelize is a good step in admitting that we have some work to do. We have an identity crisis in the Church today and Sherry (as well as many others) have been helpful in at least becoming aware of who we are now and who we are called to be.
Gordon: Thank you for the insightful interview and your leadership in youth ministry.