October 11, 2019

Being present helps youth minister bond with teens

By John Shaughnessy

Monica RobinsonOne of the greatest joys of Monica Robinson’s life has come by facing one of her fears.

“My oldest son, Kaleb, was getting to be middle-school aged,” recalls Robinson about that turning point 13 years ago. “I hadn’t done much with teenagers, and that age was a little scary to me. I thought, ‘My son is getting there soon, and I really need to get involved with them.’ ”

So the mother of three signed up to be a small group leader with the youth ministry program at SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, and she discovered something wonderful about the youths and herself.

“I loved it,” she recalls. “I was given sixth- and seventh-grade girls. That was 13 years ago, and I’m still in contact with several of those girls. We’ve formed friendships and accompanied each other through the years.”

That close bond with youths who want to grow in their faith has continued ever since for Robinson—a quality that has led the now-youth minister of her parish to be honored as the archdiocese’s Youth Ministry Service Leader of the Year.

She insists the true honor for her is sharing a faith journey with the youths.

“It’s a wonderful, mutual growing. I see the beauty of God in young people,” she says. “Working with young people keeps me young. It keeps my mind and my faith open to the presence of God. I think I have a gift for a ministry of presence. That’s really important. I tell them, ‘I’ll walk with you, and we’ll share together.’

“The whole idea of the ministry of presence isn’t just with the youths. It’s with Christ as well. I’m more in touch with the Church’s teaching, and I can share that with young people. The more that my faith is alive, they can tap into that faith and seek it out themselves. It’s important for me to stay steeped in Christ.”

Her connection with the youths shows every Thursday when as many as 15 of them join her at a coffee shop at 6 a.m. on a school morning to talk about their faith.

“They want to dialogue, and they want to grow. They walk with each other. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Any fear she had has long ago been replaced by complete joy.

“It was totally the Holy Spirit that brought me to this. I absolutely love it. I’m 59, and I still have a passion. I still feel I can impassion them to be the Church of today, not just the Church of the future.” †


Related: Transform the world through your witness, archbishop tells leaders

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