The short version begins when I was in 9th grade and going through a really difficult time, which was definitely reflected in my faith. I called myself an atheist, but looking back, I think I was just very angry with God. While my family wasn’t exactly religious, my mom thought youth group would be good for me and forced me to go. I found some great friends there. I also met one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, Mrs. Kibbler. Three of Mrs. Kibbler’s five kids were in the youth group, and she took it upon herself to set up retreat opportunities for us. She didn’t have to – she just voluntarily did it. She set up a retreat in Maryland at Mount Saint Mary’s University, which is where I first heard this call to be a youth minister (and where I experienced a strong religious conversion). It took a little while to realize I was being called, but once I did, I was determined to go to college to study theology. I think my parents were surprised. They are definitely my biggest supporters in life, but I think they were a little wary when I first told them I wanted to be a youth minister. After all, it came across very randomly to most people. I didn’t go to Mass regularly, hated going to CCD, and didn’t even have a Bible in the house. But I knew that God wanted me to do this, so I went full steam ahead!
What would you like to do with a theology major?
I’m going to work with youth. Some days I want to work in a parish, other days I want to work in a Catholic high school, and sometimes I want to open my own Catholic center for teens. Overall I’m leaving it up to God. Wherever He wants me is where I want to be.
What do you think about the theology program here at St. Joe’s?
The Professors are really what makes the program so great! They each have their own unique teaching style that creates a complete picture. Dr. Steven Bridge is always challenging us to think like 1st Century Jews, which often leads to me asking questions I’ve never thought to ask. Sister Sunderman really brings the spiritual end of theology into her classes (especially with her YouTube videos!). MaryAnn “Mama” Sheridan is so enthusiastic and is well known for teaching about topics I might not otherwise ever come across. And while I’ve never had Dr. Dan “Papa” Sheridan for class, he was the first theology professor I met, and is so intelligent, it’s a joy to talk to him when I get the chance. The program as a whole really challenges a person. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I learned after classes, reflecting about the new information and how it applies to my life. It forces me to ask questions and to think about things I wouldn’t otherwise think about, which is perfect practice for youth ministry.
What activities have you been involved with?
I’m very involved in Campus Ministry. I like to call the Campus Ministry office my second dorm because of all the time I spend in there. My main job in that office is running the Social Justice Club, SJC2 (Saint Joseph’s College Social Justice Club). While the club has always been around, a couple of friends and I wanted to really get it off the ground. We set up regular meetings and made a goal of doing at least one event a month. We had a donation drive for Guatemala, so the students that were going there for a service trip during winter break could bring some stuff down. We ended up collecting so many items that the students couldn’t bring it all with them, and the rest went to Partners in Development directly. After the Earthquake in Haiti, we made it a goal to do fundraising particularly for that. One event was “Are You Smarter Than A College Student?” We invited 14 professors to come to The Chalet and compete against one another in teams, answering questions written by students In April, we did the 30-Hour Famine. This is a national event that has been going on for a few years. The idea is to fast for 30 hours and have people sponsor the student during that time. In total, 20 students participated. The 30 hours we fasted were spent exploring and raising awareness about poverty around the world. We raised over $1,000 for Haiti Earthquake relief during this event. Obviously, I’m involved in Campus Ministry because that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life. Besides that, though, it’s because of the people there. The staff are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They approach each day with joy and enthusiasm. Whenever I walk in that office, I feel so special because of them. I’m also a member of C.A.B., Interhall, and The Feeney Players (I do the lights for the shows). The Feeney Players was the first club I was ever a part of here at St. Joe’s. I purposely set out to join it because my two very best friends from back home are theater majors. I needed to do something with theater in order to keep up with them! My R.A. and good friend Melinda Blais suggested I do Interhall. I joined C.A.B. simply because it is a fun thing to be a part of. Next year, I will be a Resident Advisor (RA) at St. Joseph’s Hall and Interhall President.
NOTE: Katelyn won the Unsung Hero Award, which is given to a student who has worked behind the scenes to improve the quality of life on campus for students. Congratulations, Katelyn!