OYM to Restructure in Light of Financial Challenges

Changes in Staff and Services to Take Effect July 1, 2004.

ST. LOUIS, MO - Responding to funding cuts and increased costs, the Office of Youth Ministry will restructure by reducing expenses and some services. The reduction in expenses will come primarily through the elimination of 5 full-time staff positions. The Office of Youth Ministry will continue several core services, including the REAP Team, parish consultation and youth ministry development, Steubenville St. Louis, the web site, E-man, and others. The OYM is proceeding with its plans for a new support program for parish youth ministry called VITAL. The OYM will also offer two junior high camps this summer. Plans to offer new retreats, other camps, and other projects such as a new teen spirituality program will need to be reevaluated in light of reduced staffing. The OYM will eliminate some services, including the annual Life Matters trip, which brought 1100 young people to D.C. this past January for the pro-life march. The OYM's magazine, which went to over 5,000 people quarterly, will be eliminated as well. There are many other less high pro-file activities, such as days of prayer, speaking engagements, and networking and collaboration with other organizations, that will be dropped as the OYM narrows its focus to only the programs and services it retains.

While funding forced the OYM re-structuring, several priorities guided the decisions regarding what to cut and what to retain. Supporting youth ministry at the parish level was the first priority. Another priority was to advocate for youth and young adult ministry to a broad audience that includes parents, grandparents, clergy, religious, educators, youth ministers and donors. Fr. Robert Smoot, Director of the Office of Youth Ministry, reflected that "It is sad that finances have forced these changes, yet I am hopeful that with the resources we have and the grace of God we will continue to serve youth and young adults effectively. More than ever we need the support of our donors and we need Catholics to strongly support the Archdiocesan Development Appeal. We still have great things to offer and I hope for the sake of our Church and the spiritual good of young people that we are able to continue." Fr. Smoot went on, "I am so grateful to our dedicated staff. They have been a blessing to me and to the Archdiocese. I know they will continue to serve the Church either through their employment or in other ways." Beginning July 1, 2004 the positions held by Rosanne Twellman, Elliott Krejci, Mary Roach, Sr. M. Consolata Crews, Greg Barker and Stacey Chik will be eliminated. Rosanne Twellman will continue to coordinate Steubenville St. Louis and Greg Barker will work for Catholic Camps of America in Dutzow, Missouri, which the OYM will work with closely. Fr. Bob Smoot is continuing as Director of the OYM. Brian Niebrugge will continue as Business Manager/Development Director, as well as serve as a youth ministry consultant to parishes. Keith Deisner will continue to coordinate some of the programs of the OYM as well as serve as a youth ministry consultant. Joel Stein serves as the OYM web developer, will take on sound production for OYM events, and will assist with other projects and needs. Paul Masek, Heather Gallagher, and Brian Altenhoeffen will continue their roles in the REAP Team, who provide retreats and days of prayer to 12,000 young people annually.