Tag Archives: campus ministry

    Youth Apostles Institute to lead campus ministry efforts at Virginia Tech

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    YAman_newThe Youth Apostles Institute has accepted an invitation from the Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, the bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, to lead the Catholic campus ministry at Virginia Tech. The appointment will go into effect June 1, 2013.

    Rev. David M. Sharland, YA, who has served as the chaplain and director of the campus ministry at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, since July 2007, has been named the new director of campus ministry for Virginia Tech’s Newman Community.

    Chris Hitzelberger, a Full Member in Youth Apostles who has coordinated the parish youth ministry programs at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia, since June 2004, joins Father Sharland as the assistant director of campus ministry.

    “It is with great joy and gratitude to God, that we announce this appointment,” said Rev. John P. Peterson, YA, the general director of the Youth Apostles Institute. “We are honored by the invitation to take on this important ministry that serves the large Catholic student population of such an outstanding university and we look forward to the opportunity to assist the Church in bringing Christ to the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech.

    “We are also most grateful to Father John Grace for the years of generous and dedicated service to the Catholic community at Virginia Tech.”

    The McLean, Virginia-based Youth Apostles Institute is a mixed association of the Christian faithful whose 80 Full Members and Candidates are committed to evangelize, teach, advise, challenge, console and love young people with the ultimate purpose of inspiring them to live Christ-like lives centered on prayer and the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Youth Apostles Full Members lead the diocesan youth ministry offices in Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses. Others are responsible for youth ministry programs at six parishes in Virginia and the campus ministry programs at Marymount University, George Mason University, Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University.

    The Norfolk Blog: Full House

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    Father Mike Kuhn, YA, and I arrived in Norfolk about 19 months ago, on the first day of June 2011, and the Norfolk community of Youth Apostles was born. The following Tuesday night we held our first community meeting. I knew we were starting a community from scratch in Hampton Roads, but had no idea what to expect or how long it would take. Six men attended that first meeting; three full members (Father Mike, me and Joe Clem – a lifetime full-member who has lived in nearby Newport News for many years), two candidates who were home on college break, and a guest (one of their high school friends).

    The Norfolk Youth Apostles at Christmas: Father Mike Kuhn, Chip Snyder, Ben Fleser and Andrew DeCelle.

    The Norfolk Youth Apostles at Christmas: Father Mike Kuhn, Chip Snyder, Ben Fleser and Andrew DeCelle.

    A quick scan of the room during our most recent community meeting last Tuesday night gave me a bit of a thrill to see how much we’ve grown. You need to understand, our meetings over college breaks are always a hodgepodge. We have several college guys from Hampton Roads who attend year round, including the four men who made candidate commitments in Norfolk over the past year. However, several of our “regulars” during the school year travel back home over break and are out of range. But some guys who are home from college — mostly George Mason University — drop in, and invite their friends to join us. We really never know who will show up!

    We also had a few special guests last Tuesday. Chris Maimone, a lifetime full member from Fairfax, paid us a visit after delivering his daughter to Christopher Newport University for her spring semester. Three of our members from GMU were home, and they invited two other Mason students from Virginia Beach to stop by. We also had a guest priest — a friend of Youth Apostles who is the pastor of a local parish — covering for Father Mike while he attended a campus ministry conference in Florida. In total, we had 15 men attending at least part of the meeting. It was a full house!

    And that’s when it occurred to me: This is what we envisioned two years ago when we decided to move to Norfolk to begin the ministry at Old Dominion University. We have a great mix of men participating, whether you look at it by vocation ( the group includes priests, consecrated men and lay men) or commitment (full members, candidates, guests). We have members dropping in when they are in the area, we have guests who are interested in learning more about Youth Apostles, and we have developed friendly relationships with local clergy and other youth workers. We are firing on all cylinders!

    Not to imply that our work here is now done. We’re only getting started! Our mission is to lead young people to Christ and help them fall in love with the Church. But as a satellite community it’s impossible not to compare ourselves with our main community house in McLean. By several measures we already compare well to the “home office” (as we like to call it down here!).

    This Tuesday night (1/15) will mark the first meeting of the Spring semester, and we’ll be getting back to “normal.” The quotes are appropriate: college students are a busy bunch, and we’ve never had the same group of men two weeks in a row! I’ve enjoyed seeing our guests over break, but look forward to catching up with the students who have been away for the past month.

    God continues to bless us abundantly in Norfolk. The group of young men we spend time with every Tuesday night is a constant reminder of that.

    — Chip Snyder, YA

    ODU Students on ASB

    ODU students visit Eastern Ky. for Spring Break Mission Trip

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    A dozen students from Old Dominion University and four staff members from the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) spent the first week of March in McKee, Kentucky, on a mission trip.  It was the first such Alternative Spring Break, or ASB, trip for the Catholic ministry at ODU in recent memory.


    Fr. Mike Kuhn, Y.A.

    Home base for the trip was the Catholic parish of St. Paul’s in McKee.  The tiny parish – technically a mission – is the only Catholic Church in Jackson County, and serves fewer than 50 families.  The students celebrated Mass with the parish on several occasions during the week and enjoyed a potluck dinner with residents after arriving on Sunday.  The students made their home at the dormitory facilities of the Christian Appalachian Project, a non-denominational Christian organization serving people in need in Appalachia.

    ASB trips take many forms; the ODU trip was built primarily around service to the local community in Jackson County.  The students worked on a number of projects over the course of the week, including hauling gravel and digging trenches at the site of a soon-to-be-opened community park; assisting several residents with repair projects in their homes; and cleaning, painting and building shelves at “The Attic”, the thrift shop run by St. Paul’s Catholic Church.

    The ODU group arrived in Kentucky only a few days after devastating tornadoes ripped through nearby areas of the state.  Jackson County was spared, but East Bernstadt in Laurel County, just south of Jackson, was the site of one of the deadly storms.  The students joined the clean-up efforts in East Bernstadt on Tuesday, helping to clear debris from a neighborhood, including a small cemetery.  It was an emotional day for all: it was gratifying to help where there was clearly so much need, but also humbling to witness first-hand the blind destruction of the storms.

    The students also had opportunities to get to know the local residents.  One of the tenets of Catholic social justice teaching is the dignity of the person.  ODU students spent time the residents – in their homes, at the County’s senior day care center, and at the local community rec center – hanging out, meeting their families, and hearing their stories.  The students relayed later that some of the most poignant and profound moments from the trip were those spent not in service but in conversation.  Thanks to these opportunities for interaction students were no longer serving “the poor” but were now serving their new friends.

    ODU ASB trip PicThe trip was organized by the CCM, so of course spirituality was a key aspect of the week.  The students celebrated daily Mass together and started and ended every day together in prayer.  Several students and staff members also prepared talks based on  1 John 3:11: “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another. . . .”

    No ASB trip is complete without a little fun!  The ODU students enjoyed two hikes in the Appalachian Mountains, where the first dots of spring color were beginning to appear.  They also spent a day in nearby Berea, Kentucky, home of the eponymous college and also a regional center for arts and crafts.  And who doesn’t love s’mores by a campfire in the middle of the forest, gazing up at the impossible number of stars visible in the clear night sky?

    The trip was a great success for everyone.  The opportunity to experience God through service, prayer and nature inspired the students and the staff alike.  The students are already talking about next year’s trip. The CCM staff members are excited to see that several of the students on the trip are now more actively involved in CCM programs since they returned from McKee.  All are confident that the first ODU ASB trip in many years will be the start of a great new tradition in the Catholic Campus Ministry!

    Leadership in the Lord’s Army

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    Jacob Znachko, a Youth Apostles candidate and cadet at Virginia Military Institute, took a break from his customary woolen attire in February to help lead a weekend retreat for college students sponsored by the Diocese of Richmond. The Encounter with Christ, a long tradition for Catholic students studying at the many eminent colleges and universities in the diocese, takes place each semester at Camp Grace in Goshen. Znachko (first row, far right), graduates in May.

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