By Cassie Brumbaugh
I am the new director of religious education and youth ministry at SS Edward and Lucy Parish. Growing up in Brecksville, Ohio, with my mom, dad and two sisters, I was raised Catholic and attended Mass every weekend. I went to the Brecksville Broadview Heights public schools, graduating in 2015, and attended my religious education classes at St. Basil the Great Catholic Church in Brecksville.
Although I grew up Catholic, I didn’t have a personal relationship with God until I got into high school. Before that, I thought religion was about going to church on Sunday and doing the right thing and didn’t realize that faith is about having a relationship with God. When I got into high school, I started attending my parish’s youth group. Through the people I met there and the events I attended, I began to realize that God was calling me to have a personal relationship with Him. It was through my youth minister, the volunteers for the youth ministry program, and the friends I met there that I learned the truths that changed my life; I was created for a purpose, I am enough as I am, I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, God’s mercy is endless, He is waiting to forgive me when I do something wrong, and God’s love is unconditional, I don’t have to earn it.
I felt called to work in youth ministry, having experienced the difference a good youth ministry program could make in a young person’s life and I feel passionately about helping everyone else experience something similar. I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, to earn my Bachelors in Theology and Catechetics with a concentration in Youth Ministry. Despite the difficulty of the course work at times, the program constantly confirmed that this was the field in which I wanted to work.
As graduation approached, I wanted to stay close to home, if possible. I found the posting for the position at SS Edward and Lucy parish on the Diocese of Cleveland Job Board and decided to apply. I spent time at the parish and experienced how friendly and welcoming the community is and decided it would be a good place for me.
We have wonderful parishioners who planned a few events last year for the middle school children. I am hoping to continue their efforts by hosting one social event a month for our young people in grades 6 to 8 on Friday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
I am planning to offer something for our high school students with youth nights for grades 9 through 12 about twice a month, generally every other Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Some of these nights will be social nights for our young people to get together and build community. Teaching nights will be on a doctrine of the faith so these young people understand why it matters for their day-to -day life, with the goal of helping them understand how these topics relate to their Catholic identity.
Youth ministry is important for young people to help them understand how faith relates to them personally. One of the purposes of youth ministry is to give young people opportunities to personally encounter God through prayer and the Sacraments. It is critical that we help our young people understand what the Catholic Church teaches and why before their faith is tested in college or at a job. A good youth ministry program should provide a foundation for our young people so they not only feel like they have a personal relationship with God and personally understand the faith, they should also be able to explain some of the teachings and defend what they believe. This type of understanding seems crucial in the world today.
In addition to the youth ministry program, I am also responsible for the religious education program called Generations of Faith. Running both programs provides the opportunity to walk with youth from kindergarten until high school graduation.
A big kick-off event for both the middle school and high school students with fun games outdoors will be held on Friday, August 23 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Lucy’s Mission, 16280 East High St. in Middlefield (44062). I am looking forward to hosting the event and meeting many people from the parish and the community.
For questions about the programs and the event, ask for Cassie Brumbuagh at 440-548-3812 or email SSEdwardLucy.ReligiousEd@gmail.com.