May 12, 2021 // Diocese

Superstars of service — Kelly Coyle

The oldest of four, Kelly Coyle grew up on the southwest side of Fort Wayne. She was baptized in the chapel at the University of Dayton, where her father was attending law school; the family moved to Fort Wayne and called St. Elizabeth Ann Seton their parish home. 

“I received my first holy Communion at St. Elizabeth and prepared for my confirmation there. However, 2000 was a jubilee year so I was confirmed at the Coliseum with hundreds of other young people,” shared Coyle. 

“Our parents, Tom and Barb Niezer, gave my siblings and me a strong Catholic foundation, which made me just love our church. They told each of us that we had to choose one way to serve the Church other than just attending Mass each week: I played flute in the band at Bishop Dwenger High School, so I chose to play my flute at the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass each week. I loved the music, and it was like a celebration every time I played.”

Provided by Kelly Coyle 
The Coyle family of Fort Wayne is pictured following the baptism of youngest son Peter. Mom Kelly Coyle is the youth minister at St. John the Baptist Parish in New Haven and helped developed the Diocesan Youth Leadership Team; Dad Zachary Coyle has served for several years as principal of St. John the Baptist School.

Coyle attended DePauw University in Greencastle and received her undergraduate degree in education and history. 

“I heard of a volunteer program called Operation Teach and applied after graduation. I was sent to Baltimore, Maryland, to teach at an all-girls Catholic school for students in grades 6-12. I taught history, and at the same time received my master’s in education.” 

There were only three male teachers at the school. Coyle shared the homeroom teaching position with one of them, now her husband, Zac. He tells everyone: “One day Kelly just walked right into my life and I said, ‘Thank you God.’” 

They came back to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to get married in 2012, then continued to teach in Baltimore a few more years. 

“When we returned, I began teaching religion and loved it. I also had the opportunity to lead local and international service trips. I developed a passion for working with teens and sharing my faith with them, which led me to pursue a new job as a full-time youth minister in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I worked with two parishes as their coordinator of youth ministry and had two wonderful mentors: The pastor and the director of religious education taught me the joy of parish ministry and inspired me in my service to families and teens,” shared Kelly.

The young couple’s family began to grow, and the Coyles returned to the Fort Wayne area. Kelly wanted to continue working with teens, so she took a part-time position as youth minister at St. John the Baptist Parish in New Haven. It was a perfect fit for her family’s busy life: The Coyle’s now have four children: Samuel, 6; Molly, 4; James, 3; and Peter, 4 months. 

“One of the discussion questions I like to ask the teens is, ‘How is the Holy Spirit working in your life?’ Looking back on my own faith journey, I see how the small graces of the Holy Spirit have deepened my faith and filled me with the desire to serve the Church. One of the best things my parents did for me was to encourage me to get involved in the Church: It allowed me to take ownership of my faith and made me feel at home. It taught me that our faith is fun and showed me in a real way the joy that Christ talks about having when we follow Him.”




She wants the youth of today to know that getting involved in parish life is one of the best things they can do to strengthen their faith journey. Whether it’s through attending their youth group activities, service projects, music or helping with Mass, by staying close to the Church the Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen their faith, she said.

The past year has not allowed Kelly to have as many activities as normal with the teens at St. John the Baptist. However, a few years ago diocesan Director of Youth Ministry John Pratt heard about Kelly’s experience in Baltimore and reached out to her to help develop a Diocesan Youth Leadership team. 

DYL is in its second year. Youths from across the diocese are nominated by their parish priest or youth leader to serve, and junior and senior high students are selected by the committee. 

“I love seeing the excitement of these young people, who are on fire for their faith,” said Kelly. “We help them develop their leadership skills so they can serve their parishes better, connect them to our larger diocesan Church, and give them the opportunity to advocate for young people and share their stories with others of how God has been present in their lives,” she explained. 

The youth are responsible for the planning and implementation of several diocesan events, including this year’s virtual confirmation retreat and the Diocesan World Youth Day retreat. 

“It’s so exciting to have representatives from all four diocesan high schools, home-school youth and youth from our Hispanic parishes. The youth are so important to our Church and their gifts are needed in our parish communities. It is a privilege to work with and for them, to give them a voice at the diocesan level, to help them discover their gifts and to walk with them as they grow in love of the Lord,” Kelly shared. “I encourage all teens to be ‘the Now of God,’ as Pope Francis says, and bring the unique energy and joy that comes from their relationship with Christ forth to their communities.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.