October 30, 2020

Parade and award let ‘giver’ know the difference she has made

During her 12 years as the youth minister of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, Patty Schnarr helped teenagers in their faith journeys. Here, she posed with youth members of the parish during the 2017 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

During her 12 years as the youth minister of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, Patty Schnarr helped teenagers in their faith journeys. Here, she posed with youth members of the parish during the 2017 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

As someone who has always dedicated her life to helping others and bringing them closer to God, Patty Schnarr has never sought recognition or affirmation. Still, she was overwhelmed emotionally by the scene that unfolded in front of her home earlier this year.

Schnarr had just returned from a week in the hospital after receiving a special chemotherapy treatment for cancer—a treatment that didn’t work—when the longtime youth minister at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood was alerted to a celebration for her on that Sunday afternoon.

“The youth group came and did a parade for me,” she recalls. “I was surprised by the number of people who came. It was very moving for me. Sometimes, you don’t know who you touch and how you touch them.”

The mother of three and grandmother of six was similarly surprised when she received the Youth Minister of the Year Award during the archdiocese’s “Co-workers in the Vineyard” virtual awards ceremony on Sept. 29, a ceremony that celebrated the contributions of people who work in the areas of Catholic education, catechesis, youth ministry, and marriage and family ministry.

“I’ve never thought about youth ministry for myself,” she says. “It was for them. It’s always been my passion to be there for young people.”

Before serving as the youth minister at Our Lady of the Greenwood for 12 years, Schnarr provided child care in her home for 22 years. Two of the high school seniors in last year’s youth group were children whom Schnarr had in child care years ago.

“It was amazing to remember them as little kids and see the people they have grown into. It was really cool. Then when I got sick, to see the outpouring of care and concern from them and all the others was special.”

That outpouring is a reflection of the care and concern that the 64-year-old Schnarr has had for young people, leading them in their parish meetings and their faith journeys to the annual March for Life in Washington and the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Now, she continues to set the example for the youths by the faith she has shown since she was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2019.

“I have bad days and good days,” she says. “I believe that God’s will will be done. I’ve kept my faith in God, and that’s what has helped me through all this.”

So has the support she has received.

“I’ve gotten a lot of support from the youths, my family, the staff at Our Lady, the parents of the youth, Father Todd [Goodson, the pastor] and the whole parish. I didn’t realize I’ve impacted more than the youth.

“I’ve always been the giver. I like to do for other people.” †

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