Danny Hannan here, the newest member of the JSC’s Youth Ministry Team! I’ve been asked to write a brief blog post on how I came to be here with this remarkable community and this exciting new opportunity.
Well, I’ve always been interested in ministry, really. Throughout grade school, I wanted to be in my parish’s youth group. When I finally got joined, I wanted to know everything there was to know about God and the Catholic faith (didn’t… quite… get there, but I’m happy with what I learned.) In college, I wanted to learn how best to share the Catholic faith with others. I felt that meant becoming a youth minister. I thought that if I could help young people to better know their faith in the ways I was taught as a teen, then I would be truly blessed. I became a Campus Ministry leader, helped with community and religious events, participated in and helped lead retreats. As a religious studies major, I took every course on religion I could find, including a handful related to the Catholic faith. It was a solid start to ministry, but I still couldn’t help but feel it was lacking.
I loved my college experience. I learned a lot and the opportunity for higher education is one I appreciate greatly. But for a Catholic school, it’s surprising to find that my college lacked a theology program. Sure, it had a handful of good courses and a ministry program that helped me quite a bit, but I left college uncertain what it was I wanted to do in life. I applied for a few assistant/intern level ministry-related positions, ones quite similar to the Ignite program, but these potential employers felt I lacked experience. I couldn’t help but feel a bit lost and discouraged. I even stopped my job search for a bit.
Through it all though, I stuck closer to my parish’s youth group as a core leader, I formed a small group of Catholic friends from college, and I spent a portion of my free time in prayer and adoration. As Christmas rolled around I prayed the Saint Andrew’s Christmas Novena. Our parish’s youth minister, with whom I worked, strongly recommended it. She has an interesting story on how once by simply asking that “something good” happen, Taylor Swift came over the Christmas holiday to visit her grandfather, a war veteran and big fan of Taylor Swift. Inspired by this, I prayed the novena asking God for a “good and meaningful job in service of Him and His people.” Before the end of the Advent Season, I had a job in my parish’s grade school.
It was a humble job. I started in aftercare. Soon I picked up other tasks. I helped organize the aftercare roster, substituted in the early learning center, helped with Summer camp, started doing before care, etc. Quickly it evolved into a full-time position. Let me tell you, every moment of my experience with that job was a beautiful blessing. Some days a grade-schooler would ask to play catch. Other days you’d find that one of the toddlers somehow managed to get their own excrement in places it definitely should not have been. Regardless, I wouldn’t trade a single moment. I learned a whole lot about myself, my co-workers, God, and His children. I grew very fond and comfortable in this God-given position, but God wasn’t quite done with me yet.
This past May, as I lounged on the couch after a long day at work, my mother approached me. She said that my Aunt Judy, who works at St. Louis University, a Jesuit College, sent my mom an email on a position she felt would be great for me. My mother, providing little to no information on this opportunity told me I should apply for it… right now. I, a loving son… said no… but eventually felt guilty enough to turn the TV off and at least check it out. It was Ignite, and it sounded remarkable. Every page of its website seemed to call out to me. These pages detailed a program that sounded perfect in helping a person to build their skills in ministry. Even in ways I could only dream of from a program such as this. As I read about Ignite all my desires to help share the faith returned like a wildfire. A sudden calling to come down from the mountain, to step out upon the waters, to cast out into the deep. I applied this summer, displaying my new experiences, and hoping that I could help this program in whatever way I could, deeply open to all such a beautiful opportunity could offer me and my future ministry. And I was excited to find, I was accepted!
I’ve been here for only a few weeks, but every moment only makes me happier to be here now. I look forward to working with the other interns, the rest of the youth ministry team, and all who our group may reach. I ask that you please pray for us as we continue our mission and that we may do all things….
A.M.D.G. (For the greater glory of God)
God Bless you all!