September 18, 2015

Leading people to God through prayer, action motivates award winners

Five individuals were honored by the archdiocese on Sept. 2 during the Administrators’ Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The honorees, all in the front row, are Andrew Costello, left, John Paul II Young Adult Servant Leader Award recipient; Amy Wilson, St. Theodora Excellence in Education Award winner; Julie Haney, Excellence in Catechesis Award recipient; and Carol Wagner and Patty Cain, who both received the Youth Ministry Servant Leader of the Year Award. In the back row are Matt Faley, left, director of young adult and college campus ministry for the archdiocese; Gina Fleming, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese; Ken Ogorek, director of catechesis for the archdiocese; and Kay Scoville, director of youth ministry for the archdiocese. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Five individuals were honored by the archdiocese on Sept. 2 during the Administrators’ Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The honorees, all in the front row, are Andrew Costello, left, John Paul II Young Adult Servant Leader Award recipient; Amy Wilson, St. Theodora Excellence in Education Award winner; Julie Haney, Excellence in Catechesis Award recipient; and Carol Wagner and Patty Cain, who both received the Youth Ministry Servant Leader of the Year Award. In the back row are Matt Faley, left, director of young adult and college campus ministry for the archdiocese; Gina Fleming, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese; Ken Ogorek, director of catechesis for the archdiocese; and Kay Scoville, director of youth ministry for the archdiocese. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

The doubts raced through Carol Wagner’s mind when she was asked if she wanted to take on the full-time position of leading high school students closer to God.

“Is this what I want to do?” she asked herself. “And can I do it?”

Those questions led her to turn to God for help.

“I prayed about it,” she recalls. “It took about two weeks of discernment. I thought the job was bigger than I was capable of. Through prayer, I saw that God thought I was capable of doing whatever I needed to do in that position. He was really calling me. I needed God to tell me, ‘I have confidence in your abilities, and I will be there.’ When it happened, I cried.”

Five years after she became the director of campus ministry at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, Wagner recently received the 2015 Youth Ministry Servant Leader of the Year Award from the archdiocese.

She was one of five individuals honored on Sept. 2 during the Administrators’ Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (Related: Individuals honored at Administrators’ Mass)

“It’s been powerful for me,” Wagner says. “I have people’s spiritual journeys, their hearts and their minds under my care. I take it very seriously, and I have to be divinely inspired to do it. My hope is that I can reassure them of how much God loves them for who they are—because he created them.

“If I can get them to love themselves because God loves them, that’s a start. When I can reach that point, I can help them grow in a relationship with God.”

Wagner’s emphasis on the power of prayer and the call to bring others to God echoed the message that Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin shared in his homily during the Administrators’ Mass.

“The Gospels frequently refer to Jesus praying in solitude before he makes a decision,” the archbishop told the gathering of priests, youth ministers, young adult ministers, Catholic school leaders and parish administrators of religious education.

Making time for prayer is essential in a world where many people “get caught up in the busyness of life,” the archbishop continued.

“I suspect that many of us find an allure to having a hectic schedule. Checking off activities on our ‘to-do’ list can engender a feeling of pride, especially in societies that value productivity. When our culture values ‘doing’ over ‘being,’ then constant activity appeals to us. I know I often fall into this erroneous mindset.

“Further, perpetual motion can distract us from deeper issues that God may be calling us to explore. Confronted with a choice, I’d rather tackle the clean simplicity of pushing papers than entering the messy complexity of people’s lives. Focusing on such activities can divert our attention from our more difficult personal relationships, especially those that need healing and forgiveness.

“Prayer can remind us of why we’re busy. More importantly, for whom we’re busy. Jesus preached and cured for the glory of God, his father and to inaugurate God’s kingdom. Imitating Jesus, we too are called to work for the glory of God and to hasten the full coming of that kingdom. But we can only do this when we take time to pause in our activity and pray with God and for each other.”

The archbishop ended his homily by asking the administrators to consider whether they view their work as a mission.

“If you consider what you do to be a mission, then the daily quiet with God is absolutely necessary,” he said. “For a mission means that you and I are sent—by someone. Prayer reminds us who that person is as well as why we are sent: to bear fruit, fruit that will remain.”

That approach to life has been embraced by the individuals who received awards during the Administrators’ Mass.

Amy Wilson said she was humbled to receive the 2015 St. Theodora Excellence in Education Award.

“It makes me appreciate what the archdiocese provides, and it makes me remember how much I love doing what I do,” said Wilson, the assistant principal of St. Roch School in Indianapolis. “I appreciate being able to give back for what Catholic education gave to me.”

Andrew Costello also views his efforts to help the homeless as a way of following Christ’s call to care for people in need.

“I need to keep working in this ministry,” said Costello, the founder of Operation Leftover, a young adult, volunteer program that provides food, clothing and conversation for people who are homeless in downtown Indianapolis.

Costello received the 2015 John Paul II Young Adult Servant Leader Award from the archdiocese.

“This work has helped me be more empathetic toward people,” he said. “It’s taken me out of my comfort zone. When I see someone in need, I have to have courage that God put them in my presence, and I have to do something.” †

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