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  • Aug
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Youth ministry director hopes to feed those who feed the young

Posted By August 15, 2013 | 12:57 pm | Lead Story #1

By Jessica Valera
CFP Correspondent

Lead young people closer to Christ and give them a greater experience with their faith.
This is the goal that Elizabeth Cotrupi of St. Joseph’s Parish in Charlton, newly appointed diocesan director of youth ministry, said she wants to meet.
Not only does the diocesan office have a new director, it has a new name and an expanded ministry. Bishop McManus has announced the appointment of Mrs. Cotrupi as the director of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
“The idea is to serve the pastors and the youth ministers and the youth of the diocese,” Mrs. Cotrupi said. “If you keep feeding the teens, then they will feed each other.”
Mrs. Cotrupi, wife and mother of three adult children, has a history in the field of youth ministry. She held a full-time position as the high school youth minister at St. Joseph’s for 12 years, and was a volunteer at the parish for about five years prior to that. She also is an active member of Life Teen, serving on the national organization’s Parish Outreach Team for the area.
“I started like a lot of people start,” she said. “The pastor asks you as a mom with kids in the program if you’ll help out and be a faith formation teacher. And so, when my kids were little, I just started volunteering, then it eventually became a full-time position.”
With her appointment as the director of youth and young adult ministry, Mrs. Cotrupi said she hopes to follow in the footsteps of former directors, while bringing parishes together to share their resources and make more information available to youth ministers and pastors.
“I would like to really collaborate with the other youth ministers and really get a sense of what everybody is looking for,” she said. “I’d like to get the website up and running again so there could be a section where the youth ministers can tell us what’s going on at their parishes so we can share events and do more things together.”
She also expressed her hope to provide a training conference for youth ministers and directors of religious education in the diocese to “bring people who are working with the youth together so we can dive deeper into what’s out there and get them trained on how they can be more effective with their kids.”
“I think one of the key things about the position is to empower the youth ministers to help them empower the kids,” she said.
Through her involvement with Life Teen, Mrs. Cotrupi has attended Steubenville East conferences and served as a liaison for Franciscan LEAD, which is a five-day Catholic leadership opportunity for high school students that precedes the conference. Through these experiences, she said has learned that most of the young people developed a personal relationship with God through some type of an encounter.
“It was an encounter, such as going on a retreat with a group, going to a Steubenville East conference, or going on a mission week where they could really get away from things for enough time and really take some time for their own time with God, and really try and work on developing a relationship with God that made that connection,” she said. “That really made a big difference for people, going from ‘this is my parents’ thing to this is my thing,’ and that’s what will help them become more intentional disciples and help it to stick more.”
With this knowledge, Mrs. Cotrupi said she hopes to help parishes become more aware of the benefits of hosting their own retreats or encouraging young people to partake in retreats that are offered in the area.
After retreats, Cursillo weekends, or mission trips, Mrs. Cotrupi encouraged follow-ups and group gatherings, such as morning Mass, socials, or service at Vacation Bible Schools, she said.
“The idea is that you have these mountain-top kind of experiences, so those will help you learn some tools and you’ll be able to go deeper with your relationship with Christ and you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and bring that into your everyday life,” she said. “The question is, let’s make sure when they get back, there are things in place to keep them involved.”
Young adult ministry is another branch of youth ministry Mrs. Cotrupi said she plans to address, which encompasses men and women ages 18 to 30.
“I have been really trying to think about and talk to young adults about what it is that they are looking for and what’s working in other parts of the country,” she said. “We have got to figure out how we can meet them where they are at.”
She also said she has been in contact with FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which is a national outreach program that ministers to college students, and, if possible, would like to see their involvement in the diocese.
Mrs. Cotrupi said she is encouraging pastors, youth ministers, and young people alike to contact her with ideas, concerns, or anything else they may need.
“I want people to always feel free to pick up a phone and call. My line is always open,” she said. “I’m always willing to talk with somebody, to pray with somebody. I want them to feel like they can call me at any time, whatever it is that they need, and that I will try to do the best that I can to help them.” (The office phone number is 508-929-4360.)