Best of the Week 2020-2021: Teaching to the Future
STUDENT MINISTERS GIVE PERSPECTIVE ON GEN-Z LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH AND HOW TO EMPOWER NEW LEADERS
Director of Campus Ministry Cari White and St. Ed's Student Minister Executive Team (photographed left to right) Adam Mocho '22, Jack O'Brien '21, Emerson Gray '21, and Richie Pokrywka '21 were asked to give a presentation during Tuesday's virtual International Youth Ministry Conference on the power of Gen-Z leadership and how today's student ministers empower their peers to lead through faith. From what started as a small group of 10-15 students has now grown into a Student Ministry made up of more than 65 students each year who contribute to separate committees focused on prayer, service, liturgy, and our Holy Cross identity. With the addition of this year's executive committee, St. Ed's Student Ministry continues to grow, providing students with more hands-on leadership experiences. To better understand what motivates the younger generation to lead and feel connected through their faith, the Student Minister Executive Team shared their experiences at St. Ed's and the ways they are encouraging fellow Edsmen to grow and lead through St. Ed's Student Ministry. "Being a Gen-Z leader in the Church is important because of the impact that our generation has made on creating change for good, coming together and standing for peace and justice. The Church evolves and adapts more every day, and as a Gen-Z leader, it is important to connect the understanding and perspective between our generation and the ones before us," says Richie. "It is important to empower and inspire younger Edsmen to get engaged with their faith and serve in their community because it is simply what St. Ed's is all about. Our generation thrives on working with one another, so it's important for our fellow brothers to find those whom they can connect with to spread our faith-based programming like wildfire." "As the only junior on the Student Minster Executive Team, it's important for me to empower my fellow Edsmen to engage with their faith in the same ways Richie, Emerson and Jack have inspired me," says Adam. "I'm excited to carry on the torch and follow in their footsteps so that the empowerment from class to class continues on at St. Ed's." With a focus on peer-driven invitations, social media outreach, and mentorship opportunities, student ministers have taken it upon themselves to connect more with younger Edsmen and work alongside them as mentors. With support, motivation, and creating safe spaces for students to feel accepted and welcomed, student ministers are bridging the gaps that would otherwise lead to students' disinterest, lack of participation, and a disconnect to their faith. "Our generation is motivated by our peers," says Emerson. "We trust our friends and feel more comfortable going on service trips or participating in Mass when we do so with our peers." "Our job as leaders is to engage with the community and connect them to their faith, and that can only be done by working together with one another," says Jack. "In my eyes, the job of a servant leader is to engage the community with their faith by working alongside them, not above them. Even though we are just starting new initiatives to increase student leadership and won't technically get to see the fruits of our labor, we look back on the last four years and see the impact student ministers have made to get us to where we are today. We are confident in the next generation and we will change the world. As we exit high school and enter the 'real world,' we have the chance to not only lead, but lead with a message of strong faith. In times like these where there is so much negativity in the world, it is important to realize that we can be the good and continue to spread our faith so that we can work towards a more united world."