Sr. M. Consolata Crews is Named Acting Director of the OYM

Sr. M. Consolata Crews has been appointed acting Director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Fr. Bob Smoot, who has served as the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry since it was founded in 1999, is beginning a leave of absence which he requested and was given permission from Archbishop Burke. Fr. Smoot shares his reasons for this leave and his thoughts and prayers in his blog. Sr. M. Consolata and Joel Stein will maintain the full-time duties of the OYM. The [REAP Team]( will continue as usual. Rosanne Twellman is remaining with the OYM now part-time and will assist with some of Brian Niebrugge's former duties as well as coordinate Steubenville St. Louis. The many recent changes of the OYM present a variety of challenges. However, they also present many opportunities for growth and for the movement of the Holy Spirit. All OYM planned activities will continue, including [VITAL](, [Project Life](, [Steubenville St. Louis]( and [World Youth Day]( Meanwhile, the Archdiocese is prayerfully reviewing further staff for the OYM and how to best lead the OYM through this period of change. Please keep the OYM in your prayers and most importantly pray for the young people of the Church! May this be a blessed time that bears much fruit ahead!


Important OYM News

I hope to keep those who frequently work with the Office of Youth Ministry or follow our programs and events updated on our restructuring. As you know, 5 staff positions were eliminated. I just want to share with you where those staff members are or are headed. Additionally, some unexpected developments have occurred that are leading to further staff changes. Happily we are able to continue all planned events and programs and confident that the Lord will continue to guide this ministry and provide strong leadership.

On May 20 Elliott Krejci will begin a new job with Swank Audio Visual. Elliott has served as the OYM's Art Director since September 2001. It would be difficult to overstate Elliott Krejci's impact on the OYM. He brought great creativity to planning programs and events. He put our ideas into form through graphic design, producing some of the most appealing and engaging materials I've seen. Elliott helped raise the bar on the production quality of our events and allowed us to incorporate more media into our programming. He has been a great colleague, bringing lots of fun and laughter and keeping us all connected to the world of pop culture. He will be greatly missed by all. With thanks to God, we congratulate Elliott and wish him well.

As most of you know Greg Barker is now Executive Director of an exciting new camp in Dutzow, Missouri. Greg has been a member of the pastoral staff of the OYM since it began in 1999. Greg is well known to so many of our youth ministers. He was the first Life Teen Youth Minister in St. Louis and served at both St. Clare Parish and St. Cletus Parish before coming to the OYM. Greg helped the OYM to bring the Steubenville Conference to St. Louis, as well as helped create and develop many of our programs and events. Greg contributed a great deal to the technical end of the OYM, putting together our audio-visual program, and coordinating production at our OYM events. Greg's creativity, organization and ability to relate and connect to teens will be missed at the OYM, but will be put to great use for the Church at Catholic Camps of America.

We have two other staff changes that were not expected and come as great surprises.

Keith Deisner, who has been a member of the OYM pastoral staff since the OYM was created in 1999, will begin a new position as Director of Development for Peter and Paul Community Services on May 24. Keith brought to the OYM a broad range of experiences including work with homeless youth in New York and developmentally disabled adults in Florida; he spent several years teaching in Catholic schools, including a year in London as part of the Fullbright Teacher Exchange. Keith has been a tremendous colleague, organizing programs such as Project Life and World Youth Day, and programming for Life Matters. Keith has been a real friend and support to many youth ministers, a great speaker, writer, and communicator for the OYM. He helped keep the OYM a creative and fun place so that God could bring us some great ideas for our ministry. Keith will come back to work with Sr. M. Consolata for our Project Life week. We express our gratitude to Keith and wish him well in his future work to support services for persons who are homeless and in need.

Another surprise move comes from Brian Niebrugge. Brian has been a member of the staff since 2001 and serves as Business Manager and Development Director. Confirming Brian's dedication, hard work, and skill the Archdiocese of St. Louis has selected Brian as the new Director of the ADA, taking the place of Teresa Manna who has taken another job after her own years of excellent service in the Archdiocese. The OYM staff is very proud of Brian and excited about the new work he will undertake in the vitally important work of the ADA. Brian has contributed so much to the OYM. He has brought great clarity and organization to the OYM budget and done so much to help in the organization's fund raising efforts. Brian has contributed a great deal to many of the OYM programs and always been a part of the execution of our events. Brian's kind and patient manner and skillful work with our finances has been a real blessing to the entire OYM staff. While he will be greatly missed we are so happy to continue to work with Brian in his new position with the ADA.

We are blessed that Rosanne Twellman will continue to coordinate our Steubenville St. Louis Conference. Rosanne has been with the OYM since it started. She has helped to develop so many of the procedures and systems in our office for event planning, registration for events, and other areas. Rosanne has assisted me with countless tasks, helped with the OYM finances, kept us stocked with needed supplies, and worked with so many youth ministers attending OYM events. Over the years Rosanne has overseen registration for thousands and thousands of young people. While she will not be full time with the OYM, she will continue to contribute in many ways and of course continue to coordinate the Steubenville Conference.

So, we have 2 open positions in the OYM, however, we will take some time before we make any decisions about filling those positions. We will continue to discern the best and most effective direction the OYM should head. As a staff we have prayed and discussed a great deal and we feel confidant that the Lord is guiding these changes and that we will continue to be effective in youth ministry. We are very enthusiastic about the VITAL program; it is and will continue to be one of our top priorities. We are looking forward to a very successful Steubenville St. Louis conference, and our largest Project Life yet. And our web site will continue to offer more useful features (in April we had our biggest month yet for visits to our site – thanks for your support). Please continue to pray for us and especially for Sister M. Consolata Crews and Joel Stein as we adjust to these many changes. In this month of May we entrust ourselves most especially to the care of our Blessed Mother, who we know will assist us to be faithful and to bear great fruit. Blessings and prayers to you all – check back for more updates soon!

Fr. Bob Smoot


Developments and Changes

The Youth Ministry Office is in the midst of change. Here are a few updates and thoughts. Mary Roach, who has served in the Catholic Youth Council and in the OYM since it was begun in July 1999 began her new job with Catholic Services for Children and Youth. Mary has been the "glue" of the OYM - as receptionist and staff support Mary answered the phones, directed calls, fielded questions, gave directions to lost drivers, ran errands, assembled mailings, ran copies, sent faxes, helped get the bills paid, ran the credit card machine, ordered supplies, kept track of everyone on staff, took minutes, told everyone what was going on in the office or the building, and was friend to everyone. Unfortunately Mary's position is one of the 5 that had to be eliminated effective July 1. Happily Mary found another position within the Archdiocese. She will be, however, deeply missed not just by the staff, but the OYM's many visitors and callers. If you want to drop Mary a note, you can email her still at . We will have a celebration with all of the departing staff in the near future.

With Mary Roach's departure, the OYM will now utilize the phone system's auto attendant feature. When you call 314.633.2500 you will get a voice mail message. At any time enter the extension of the person you wish to reach. A complete listing of extensions is available in the [staff section](/staff.cfm) of the web site.

The OYM has received many calls and emails expressing support, as well as disappointment regarding the restructuring. This is particularly true with regard to [Life Matters](/lifematters/). We are looking at ways to support parishes and schools to organize their own trip and program for the March for Life. Stay tuned for more information.

On April 28 Cultivation Ministries came to St. Louis to present on the [VITAL](/vital/) program being offered to parishes within the Archdiocese. 46 parishes attended the seminars throughout the day, with nearly every parish expressing interest in signing up for the program.

There are lots of good things happening. Stay tuned for continued development and expansion of the web site too!


Office of Youth Ministry to Restructure: Some Services and Programs to Be Eliminated

Thanks to the support of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal and our many donors, the OYM has been able to serve youth and young adults in very positive and effective ways these past five years. Unfortunately, cuts in other funding and escalating increases in fees paid to both the Archdiocese and insurance programs have forced us to develop a plan to restructure the OYM. The re-structuring is designed to make the OYM as effective as possible with fewer staff and resources. A total of 5 full-time positions and 1 part-time position will be eliminated effective July 1, 2004. Staffing reductions will result in the elimination of some services to young people and other changes in the way the OYM operates.

The OYM still has some exciting plans for the future, such as our VITAL program where we will collaborate with Cultivation Ministries to provide coaching and consultation to parishes. We will still be collaborating with Catholic Camps of America to develop camping opportunities for Catholic Youth. In addition to these exciting new programs, you can expect to see some of the familiar OYM events and programs, like Steubenville St. Louis and REAP retreats that have impacted the lives of teens for the past five years.

Unfortunately, with cuts this deep, some good programs will be lost. Life Matters, our annual pro-life pilgrimage which brought 1,100 teens to Washington D.C. for the March for Life has been canceled. We will, however, explore the possibility of a "Life Matters" event in St. Louis prior to the March for Life. We welcome your feedback. The OYM Update, which brought information and resources to nearly 6,000 people in the St. Louis Catholic community, has also been ended. With our remaining resources spread thin, the OYM will not be able to provide the same level of support it has historically given to individual youth ministers and other youth ministry programs.

Despite this disappointing turn of events, the OYM remains blessed with resources and resolute in its commitment to serve the young people of the Archdiocese. The staff of the OYM is committed to minimizing the impact of these cuts on the teens of the Archdiocese. Click Here for a more complete explanation of the changes.

**Questions and Answers**

*What events, programs and services will be affected by the changes?*

The OYM has exciting plans for the future, such as our VITAL program where we will collaborate with Cultivation Ministries to provide coaching and consultation to parishes. We will still collaborate with Catholic Camps of America to develop camping opportunities for Catholic youth. We will continue to offer our Steubenville St. Louis Conference and our World Youth Day pilgrimage. Our recently expanded web site will continue to grow, providing great resources right at your fingertips. We will continue to provide E-man, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, with all the latest information for youth ministry.

Unfortunately, with cuts this deep, some good programs will be lost. Life Matters, our annual pro-life pilgrimage which brought 1,100 teens to Washington D.C. for the March for Life has been canceled. We will, however, explore the possibility of a "Life Matters" event in St. Louis prior to the March for Life. We welcome your feedback. The OYM Update, which brought information and resources to nearly 6,000 people in the St. Louis Catholic community, has also been ended. With our remaining resources spread thin, the OYM will not be able to provide the same level of support we have historically given to individual youth ministers and other youth ministry opportunities.

*How will the changes affect OYM personnel?*

The OYM has been blessed with a dedicated, creative and faithful staff. Each person is to be commended for his or her hard work. The only way to reduce costs significantly, however, was to cut staff. Therefore, the following positions will be cut from the OYM.

* Art Director - Elliott Krejci
* Receptionist and Staff Support - Mary Roach
* Event Coordinator - Rosanne Twellman (Rosanne will continue to coordinate Steubenville St. Louis)
* Youth Minister - Sr. M. Consolata Crews[b]You had some bad html here.
* Youth Minister - Greg Barker (Greg is running the new camp in Dutzow, Missouri)
* REAP Team part-time retreat staff - Stacey Chik.

The following positions and staff will be retained:

* Director of Youth Ministry - Fr. Bob Smoot
* Youth Minister - Keith Deisner
* Web Developer - Joel Stein
* Business Manager/Development Director - Brian Niebrugge
* Director of the Reap Team - Paul Masek
* Reap Team Chastity Educator - Heather Gallagher
* Reap Team part-time retreat staff - Brian Altenhoeffen

Brian Niebrugge's role will expand to include more pastoral duties and parish consultation services. Joel Stein will also take on some administrative duties, as well as audio/visual production at events.

*What brought about these changes?*

Many factors contributed to the need to cut staff and services. I share the bulk of these reasons below.

* The primary reason for these changes is the result of poor market conditions that forced the Archdiocese of St. Louis to cut two separate grants to the OYM a few years ago. The OYM was able to make some cuts and use its cash reserve to make up for the shortfall. We also received a very generous donation from a trust that helped us to continue our ministry. In 2003 Archbishop Rigali generously decided to restore part of one grant for two years from the principal of an endowment established for youth. Under the arrangement the OYM would no longer receive this grant by June 30, 2005. We had hoped that the financial picture of the Archdiocese would improve by then and that our own fund raising would have greatly improved as well, which would allow us to replace this lost revenue. Despite our best the OYM has not yet met its fund raising goals.
* The Archdiocese made several decisions to balance its overall budget. One of those decisions was to assess each agency a fee to cover the cost of our finance office, which takes care of our accounting and our audit. The OYM was assessed nearly $30,000. This was an entirely new cost never before part of our budget.
* Additionally, the OYM's rent increased by $4,000 for FY 2005 and would have increased at least an additional $4,000 in FY 2006.
* The fees paid for insurance and retirement for priests were raised $2,000 for FY 2005 and will increase $2,000 each of the next two fiscal years as well.
* The OYM's liability insurance tripled for FY 2005.
* The OYM's health coverage for lay employees increased almost 20% and is expected to continue to increase each year.

The Diocese's mandate to each agency to submit a balanced budget, escalating costs, our own lagging fund raising, the elimination of substantial grants two years ago, and the possibility of a reduced ADA grant, made it necessary to cut staff and programs.

*What principles guided the decisions about what to keep and what to cut?*

Our first priority was to retain programs that allow us to advocate for youth and young adults. Our role is to be a catalyst in the Archdiocese for youth and young adult ministry. The priority of supporting youth and young adult ministry in parishes goes hand-in-hand with this. Another important principle that guided our restructuring was to provide concrete services, which could serve a large and broad number of people in a way that is very definable and measurable. Another principle was to use technology more effectively and inexpensively in order to most effectively reach others and bring people together. In light of these principles, the OYM will be somewhat less event oriented so that we can focus more attention on gathering the wisdom and resources of our own Archdiocese and connecting parishes to this collective "gold-mine," as well as creating resources ourselves for use in parishes.

*When do all the changes take effect?*

Our fiscal year is from July 1 to June 30. So, July 1, 2004 will be the effective date for all of the changes. Some staff, however, may leave sooner that July 1 should they find employment elsewhere before July 1.

*Who should I contact with comments or questions?*

Hopefully this Q & A answered all your questions. However, should you wish more information or want to make a comment you may contact Fr. Bob Smoot at 314.633.2500 or via email at .


Finances to Force More Change

As many of you may have read in the St. Louis Review today, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is requiring substantial cuts in its agencies and offices, while at the same time adding new costs such as an assessment for the finance office or increased costs for liability insurance and priests' retirement. I must readily admit these changes came as quite a shock. With days to go before we must submit reworked budgets we are prayerfully discussing and discerning the changes we can make. The cuts and increased Archdiocesan fees will have a direct impact on the services that the Office of Youth Ministry is able to provide to young people. In the coming days I will work with my staff and others to make decisions about what services we can retain and those we must unfortunately drop. One thing that has not changed is the belief that ministry with young people is vital for the Church now and in the future. It is my sincere hope that in these challenging economic times we can still find new and creative ways to effectively minister to the youth and young adults of our Archdiocese. Changes in funding don't mean that serving young people is any less important. Each person and each parish should in its own way do what it can to support the faith lives of our youth and call them to active participation in the life and mission of the Church. As details become available we will share how the Office of Youth Ministry will be changed. Remember that your donations are as important as ever. Please stay tuned for updates and remember to pray for the young people of our Church.