More than 50 people from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland were among the 365 attendees at last month’s Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Hosted by Life Teen, which was established in 1985 as a youth ministry movement within the Church, the convention affords youth ministers from across the country and beyond an opportunity for training, collaboration and spiritual renewal. After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, the convention returned June 6-9, said Francine Costantini, director of the Diocesan Office of Youth Ministry, who was among the attendees. Youth ministry includes adolescents – those in grades 6-12.
“It’s not often that you get an opportunity to attend an event like this that allows you to refresh, recenter, refocus your soul and then go back out on mission,” Costantini said.
In addition to Costantini, the diocesan contingent at the four-day convention included 30 volunteers, nine youth ministers, seven priests, three seminarians, one deacon – Deacon Richard Mueller, St. Mary of the Falls Parish, Olmsted Falls – and one music minister. Priests attending were Father Jay McPhillips of St. Helen Parish, Newbury; Father James Kulway, St. Barnabas Parish, Northfield; Father Ryan Mann, St. Basil the Great Parish, Brecksville; Father Kevin Fox. St. Bernadette Parish, Westlake; Father Ryan Cubera, St. Mary of the Falls Parish; Father Larry Jurcak, St. Mary Parish, Hudson; and Father Steve Flynn, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Gates Mills.
Parishes represented were St. Helen, St. Barnabas, St. Basil the Great, St. Bernadette, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis Xavier, Medina, St. Hilary, Fairlawn, St. Mary, Hudson, and St. Mary of the Falls.
Costantini said of those attending from the Cleveland Diocese, 30 were first-time attendees; six were attending for the second time; three for the third time and 13 had attended more than five times.
The convention offered a variety of speakers, breakout sessions, daily Mass, opportunities for Adoration and confession, training for those involved in youth ministry and activities throughout the day. Costantini and Father Mann were among the speakers at breakout sessions this year.
A small group decided to continue a convention tradition of hiking up Camelback Mountain early one morning to watch the sunrise. Father Kulway, an avid runner, accompanied them and celebrated Mass on top of the mountain. Costantini said another tradition of the Cleveland attendees is to gather at one of the hotel pools, order pizza and spend time collaborating.
“The event is wonderfully refreshing, almost like a family reunion,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for collaboration.”
Father Donald Calloway, MIC, author of “Consecration to St. Joseph,” was one of this year’s keynote speakers.
Costantini, former youth minister at St. Barnabas Parish, said she was hired there three days before the 2010 convention, which she attended. Since then, she’s been a regular attendee. Last September, she began her new role as director of youth ministry for the diocese. As her position evolves, Costantini said she hopes to provide more support and training to those involved in youth ministry throughout the eight-county diocese. Building on the Life Teen model of offering events two to four times per year for youth ministers, Costantini said she hopes to offer two large, annual gatherings for youth ministers in the diocese as well as training in areas that would be useful to them.
“I’m trying to bring our youth ministers together to share best practices,” she said.
One event now in the planning stages is CLE 21:6, a diocesan wide youth conference scheduled for Jan. 8, 2022. More details will be forthcoming.
For more information on youth ministry in the diocese, contact Costantini at 216-696-6525, Ext. 2334 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.