Monday, February 22, 2010

Jessica Cillian, Youth ministry

St. Raphael High School Youth Group at camp. Jessica Cillian is the one on the right not covered in mud. Click photo to enlarge.

I have always felt called to serve the youth at some capacity. At the time this ministry opportunity came up, I was teaching Kindergarten at St. Raphael School.

 My father, who was very active in the youth ministry and parish, had just passed away from a battle with cancer. I felt really called by God, my mother's promptings, and the encouragement of my dad from above, to give my time and talent to this specific ministry. I really felt like it was Heaven-sent and that it’s what my heavenly and earthly Father would want.

The purpose of this ministry is to call the youth of this parish on to their fullest potential in Christ. We are all called to be saints and Christ has commissioned the youth to be leaders and examples in calling the rest of the community to this higher standard in faith.

God has a message to send to the youth and his church. He calls everyone to proclaim it but not everyone proclaims it in the same way, through the same ministry, or at the same time.

I felt really called at this time in my life to appeal to the youth and bring His message of love and hope. I am hoping that the example of myself and the core team as well as our sincere love for each one of them will help them to see the value that they hold in God's eyes.

Every opportunity I get to spend with the youth brings me closer to God in some way. They are constantly teaching me about God's power and awesomeness.

The times that have brought me the closest to God have been when we are on trips and there is Eucharistic Adoration. I look out and see our youth raising their hands to the Lord and singing as loud as they can. I’m taken back every time I see it. It’s amazing.

I have been in this ministry for three amazing years. On my first day, I came into the office and decided I would start calling teens and introducing myself.

The first phone call I made I was really nervous. The phone rang and a man picked up and said, “This is the Randy and Dave Morning Show.”

I thought they were kidding and asked for the teen. They were not kidding. I ended up having the funniest conversation with them about it being my first day as a youth minister and how I messed up my first call.

Later that day I had the radio on and they played my conversation. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Anyone considering this ministry should know it is a very rewarding but difficult ministry. Like Shrek says in the movie, “It's like an onion, it has many layers.”

As you peel the layers back you find God working through every possible aspect. It takes each individual to truly commit to God, the team, and the youth.

You will be challenged and stretched physically, mentally, and spiritually. And you will most certainly have no doubt that God is working miracles every day, in the way these teens show Christ to you. 

Each ministry needs a variety of people from young to old, female and male, parents, married couples, youth, young adults, lawyers, teachers, religious, etc. This ministry does not discriminate.

All are needed to spread the message. Everyone can help in some capacity.

And you'd better like dodge ball. Lots and lots of dodge ball. 

If you're interested:
Want to volunteer to work with the Youth ministry? Call Jessica at (727) 821-0155 ext. 2120 or send her an e-mail at You can learn more about the Youth ministry here

Middle photo: St. Raphael Middle School Youth Group at camp. Click to enlarge.

Bottom photo: St. Raphael High School Youth Group at camp. Click to enlarge.

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