August 18, 2015 // Local

Andrew Ouellette named director of youth ministry

Andrew Ouellette is the new director of Youth Ministry.

By Kay Cozad

MISHAWAKA — Andrew Ouellette has been named the new director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and hit the ground running at his new office in the St. John Paul II Center in Mishawaka on Aug. 3. His main goal for the youth ministry, he says enthusiastically, is “to serve the teens and serve the people who serve the teens.”

The new director has always had a passion for youth ministry and admits, “I always work to bring fellow teens and young adults to Christ.” Though raised Lutheran, Ouellette recalls his father taking him at age nine to Mass on an occasional Sunday. By 13 he sought permission to become a Catholic, but was instructed by his parents to wait until age 18. Undaunted by this directive, Ouellette began working at a Catholic bookstore and learning all he could about the faith. Finally, with his parents’ blessing he began RCIA and by age 16 he was welcomed fully into the Catholic Church.

A recent graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned degrees in theology and philosophy, Ouellette boasts a list of sterling qualifications and experience, including work as middle and high school catechist, retreat and event master for youth, speaker, and webmaster-content manager for an international website he created devoted to the Blessed Mother. He also has worked with the Carmel deanery in the Diocese of Lafayette to coordinate and implement youth programs that brought teens together from various area parishes, has spoken at a Marian conference held in Amsterdam and has traveled to Rome to see the pope.

As for the newly manned Office of Youth Ministry, Ouellette says his door is always open. “I want to have the office be a resource, a place of training and a place to come together, so we can be unified as a diocese as we serve our youth, while also retaining a level of diversity that’s so important,” he says.

There are “big things” on the horizon of youth programming, including the March for Life trip in January to Washington, D.C., and the Ignited Retreat in the spring, on which Ouellette has already begun to work. “There’s great stuff going on,” he says, adding, “I’m looking forward to building relationships with the youth and planning events with them.”

Another goal “down the road,” says Ouellette, is expanding the website and social media, where the youth can come together from distances. “It’s a great asset to reach out to teens,” he says, adding that he’d also eventually like to visit parishes that don’t offer youth ministry and discover how he can help establish programs.

His main focus currently though, says Ouellette, is the community and building relationships with the youth ministers around the diocese. “All these people are so talented and have been doing this for years. I’ll be learning from them and am eager to hear what they have to say,” he says.

Originally from Fishers, Ouellette has recently made his move to Mishawaka and says, “I’ve felt very at home here. I love Indiana. I’ve already met great people and have been welcomed by the great people I work with.” He now calls St. Matthew Cathedral his Church home.

In addition to his passion for youth ministry, Ouellette is a self-professed bookworm. He also enjoys playing his bass guitar as well as piano. His faith devotions include Eucharistic Adoration, recitation of the rosary and a devotion to St. Louis de Montfort, Padre Pio and St. Gemma Galgani, the young Italian mystic who is considered the patron saint of students. As he settles in the Mishwaka area, Ouellette is looking forward to supporting the local shops as well. “Community is very important to me,” he says.

Ouellette’s deep faith and enthusiasm bespeaks the promise of great things to come for the Catholic youth of northeast Indiana. “I’m happy to be here and serve the youth of the diocese,” he says.

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