Timone Davis and Jorge Rivera worked respectively in African American and Hispanic Young Adult Ministry for many years and were great gifts in reaching out to those communities. Timone and I worked on many projects together and I have firm arrangements with my Chicagoland friends that if anything should ever happen to me that Timone is to read the first reading at my funeral. She makes the word come alive and brings a vibrancy to her ministry and to all that she does.
Jorge is not far behind her. He’s worked there longer than I have been in ministry and loves Chicago so much. It has to be frustrating to now have to say “Adios” to a ministry that he helped build and bring into it’s own.
Finally, a third colleague: Dr. Kate DeVries (pictured, above with Fr John Cusick) has been the Associate Director for Young Adult Ministry in the Archdiocese for nearly a quarter century! She’s been at the right hand of Fr. John Cusick, the director and the founder of Theology on Tap for that time. They’ve been a good team. Fr. Cusick is the dreamer and Kate is the practical one. Kate would run conferences and have all the logistics down to a science. Their book, The Basic Guide to Young Adult Ministry is still a best seller. She’s got a 25 year record of successful young adult ministry and frankly, the Archdiocese threw her away like an old shoe! That’s a shameful way to treat a longtime employee in my opinion, much less a woman who has become one of the most well-known leaders in the Catholic Church. Fr. Cusick is crestfallen at the loss of his longtime colleague and who can blame him?!
But, friends, at this time we in Young Adult Ministry need to have faith. We need to realize that the skills and the talents that lie deep within our colleagues are not now, nor will they ever lie dormant.
Because they are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, given deeply and generously to us from these three. We need the faith to believe that God will continue to use these gifts, these people, in new ways to bring others closer to God, to bring others to have life and have it to the full and to bring peace and justice to a world and to particularly a church that so desperately needs it right now.
When things don’t go the way we would like to, we need to remember that God always offers us something else, something better. Perhaps my friends can rest easier in knowing that something new will come their way, perhaps not in the same way it did in their now-former ministry, but something new will be there for them. God will provide us with the strength and the faith when we are suffering from loss, to bring us into healing and most importantly, to provide us hope when things look hopeless.
That is what we need to most pray for today. Hope. Hope that these gifts for ministering to and with young adults will no longer be discarded by the church but rather be used for the betterment of their people. Hope that peace and harmony can exist in Chicago’s Archdiocese. And hope that our church will minister strongly to Young Adults today…not just those that show up, who are already in the club, but those on the margins as well.
Here’s a task for you this week, especially those of you in Chicago….
If you’ve ever been touched by the ministry efforts of the Young Adult Office in Chicago, today is a good time to let Kate, Fr, John and Timone and Jorge know how much they have given to each of us. I’m wearing my Ryne Sandberg Cubs Jersey today in solidarity with my colleagues from the land of Wrigley, but what I really hope for them is that they can be restored to the dignity that they all truly deserve.
Anyone got a job opening? I got three good candidates for ya!