Tigerton area parishes believe in youth ministry
Peter Andrastek: 'I want these kids to know and love Christ'
Third in a Bishop's Appeal series
By Brian Kohls
|CHECKING IN: Peter Andrastek, youth minister at the linked parishes in Tigerton, Leopolis, Marion and Wittenberg, spends much of his time preparing the weekly CREDO program. (Rick Evans photo)
Youth ministry help
The Green Bay Diocese department for youth ministry is available to help parishes "through training, resources and organizing efforts to gather young people together as a diocese or a national church so our ministers and volunteers are equipped to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the Catholic faith community," said Rich Curran, director.
The department "advocates for a complete approach by our parishes and Catholic high schools to be responsive to the spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and physical development of youth," Curran said. "We support local ministry efforts."
One specific offering is the VITAL Youth Ministry Training Program, Curran said. "In January, 2007 the Diocese of Green Bay partnered with Cultivation Ministries, a nationally recognized Catholic youth ministry training organization, to assist parishes in their efforts to build dynamic, effective and sustainable youth programs. These programs need to address the multiple spiritual and social dispositions of today's young generation.
"Over two years, parishes receive application-based training for their entire youth ministry team, relevant online consulting, personalized on site coaching, and accountability in achieving a series of significant ministry milestones. Each month, parishes work toward specific goals, and success is defined by measurable benchmarks that are achieved through the development of specific skills and the completion of clearly defined tasks. The final product is a systematically constructed youth ministry that is comprehensive in scope and disciple-making in focus," Curran said.
TIGERTON -- In our world of e-mail, instant messages, iPods, 24-hour news, and two-income families, the Christian ideals of love of God and neighbor, and service to humanity, are sometimes forgotten.
But those ideals are at the heart of the faith formation program Peter Andrastek coordinates at the linked parishes of St. Anthony, Tigerton; St. Mary, Leopolis; St. Mary, Marion; and Holy Family-St. William, Wittenberg.
"I want these kids to know Christ so they can love Christ. I want these kids to know the Eucharist so they can love the Eucharist," said Andrastek, who coordinates high school and adult faith-formation, directs high school Confirmation preparation and assists a recently organized Men's Club.
Much of Andrastek's time is consumed by preparing for CREDO - the high school faith formation program.
"CREDO means 'I believe' in Latin," said Andrastek, who is writing the program based on the Catechism and the Bible.
About 40 students from the four linked parishes come to Tigerton for the Sunday evening CREDO sessions, which include Mass, a large-group teaching session, and a small group discussion session, Andrastek said.
"I try to make it fun and interesting (by) using my hands, moving around, drawing things, using experiments," Andrastek said.
In addition to lectures by Andrastek, Fr. John Girotti, pastor, or another catechist, "Sometimes, we have a skit (or) a movie clip" that makes presentations on Scripture, spirituality, morality and the Sacraments relevant to teens, Andrastek said. "Every night is something different."
A highlight for students is the occasional appearance of "Apostle-Man" - Fr. Girotti, dressed in a black cassock and dark glasses, a sort of cross between Rocky Balboa and the Fonz, Andrastek said.
"Pretty crazy stuff, but it gets their attention," Fr. Girotti said. "Peter and I work very closely together. I strongly believe in my teaching role as a pastor. I am quite pleased to have Peter assist me with sharing the faith with our young people. We work off of each other and often share ideas. We strongly support and respect each other's vocation in life - my priesthood and his married life. I think we make a great team."
Andrastek said he is thankful for help from Fr. Girotti and the catechists who lead the small group discussions.
"(They are) Catholics who love Christ and the church," Andrastek said of the catechists. "It is a great witness (to the students)."
Whatever teaching method he uses in CREDO, Andrastek said he tries to tie church teaching into the lives of his students.
"I try to give them, in the large group, the principles," Andrastek said. "In the small group, it (the discussion) is about application (to their life)."
CREDO is "orthodox (and) faithful to the Magisterium," Andrastek said.
Dr. Joseph Bound, diocesan director of Education, agreed. He said CREDO is a "great catechetical program ... which I endorse 100%. The content is solid, the lesson planning done very professionally, and the delivery is captivating. The students have been talking about what they have been learning through this program at home and this has prompted the adults in the parish to want to learn more about their faith," Bound said. "Due to the success of this program, I have tapped Peter to be a member of our Catechesis Committee."
Andrastek said he is looking forward to a service-oriented event this summer at a work camp in Dallas.
Another important part of Andrastek's ministry is the parish adult faith formation program.
"It is a work in progress," Andrastek said of the monthly 45-60 minute presentation for adults.
Fr. Girotti described Andrastek's role as reaching out "to our teens, young adults, and adults in our four parishes. Our goal is to share the faith with others and thus have people
fall in love with Christ and his church" as Pope John Paul asked in his call for a new evangelization.
Andrastek, a 2003 graduate of UW-Oshkosh, and his wife, Krissy, have a 16-month-old son, John Paul. Krissy is the catechist for the 7th and 8th grade students.
Andrastek said he enjoys his ministry. "I love it because this is what God is calling me to do."