Stacey Huneck, youth ministry coordinator for St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne, felt called to serve the Church as a teen. Rural Catholic family roots nurtured her life of service, along with her parents’ dedication to providing Catholic education.
“I grew up in Avilla, and my family attends St. Mary of the Assumption. I was baptized at Queen of Angels and received first Communion, confirmation and was married at St. Mary. I have three sisters and two brothers, and as we each began our high school careers, we all did the 40-minute drive one-way to attend Bishop Dwenger High School,” she recalled.
Huneck’s passion for ministry developed during participation in a girls club called Challenge in high school.
“I attended a retreat led by a community of consecrated women in Cincinnati, which inspired my relationship with Jesus. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in theology, so I attended the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne. I started out as an education major, but soon transitioned to a theology major.”
Huneck is also a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame Master of Theology program through the Our Sunday Visitor diocesan program.
“I began serving the parish as the high school youth ministry coordinator in 2013,” she said. “Our ministry to the teens consists of small faith sharing groups called YDisciple. I recruit and train volunteers who feel called to work with young people and equip them to lead each small group.” St. Charles has eight small groups that meet once a week.
The groups’ study topics are specific to the area of interest of the teens. “Our topics of discussion vary, and include social justice issues, friendships and virtue, and the Church. One group wanted to know about finance and how that is seen in the view of the Church.
“As the leaders engage their youth in discussion, it allows time for deeper dialog and tools to answer the difficult questions the teens are facing.”
Along with the small groups, the teens engage in large-group activities. St. Charles hosts two retreats a year in Huntington at the St. Felix Catholic Center.
“Our spring retreat in March was cancelled due to COVID-19 and turned into a virtual retreat. We rescheduled the retreat with the St. Felix center to take place on June 13, but that too had to be transitioned to a virtual retreat. However, we were able to meet in person for Mass, adoration and confession at St. Charles.
“After we wrapped up, one of the parents mentioned to Father Tom Shoemaker that it was my husband’s, Phil, and my five-year anniversary, and he asked us if we wanted to renew our wedding vows. Some of the teens came back into the church to witness our vow renewal.”
Huneck leads a small group on Sunday evening for senior girls.
“Through the witness talks that take place on our retreats and in our small groups, we hope to have these talks be conversion engines to help teens grow in their relationship with Jesus. It can’t just be a one-time experience, but an ongoing relationship. I want the young people to know they are not alone, and that we are here to accompany them on their journey. Jesus, too, wants to walk with them.”
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