A Letter from Katy Gattuso, Inaugural St. John’s Youth Intern and Now Coordinator for Children, Youth and Family Ministries at College Lutheran in Salem, Virginia

St. John’s Youth Internship will continue in Fall 2022 when we welcome Roanoke College student Lauren Roth.

Dear St. John’s Episcopal Church,

I come to you with immense gratitude for the opportunity to have been your intern. You all have a strong youth ministry team. Christine Mortlock, the Reverend Whitney Burton, and the Reverend David Olson have helped me every step of the way. St. John’s has shown me what a sustainable youth ministry looks like in action. You all have also taken it a step farther to teach me how to implement and carry out healthy and lively youth ministry practices moving forward. I have been provided with numerous resources to refer to down the road. The support I have been given extends past the youth ministry leadership team to the other staff and families in the congregation.

An important question in youth ministry today is: what do youth need most right now? The St. John’s Youth Leadership Team (Whitney, David, Chrissy) circulated several articles and had several conversations about how we can give youth what they need most right now. My own reflection of what the youth need right now stems from the youth gatherings we held. The youth express joy to be able to participate in youth meetings. Youth programs are needed because many of the youth are not given other opportunities to spend time with their peers in person, as their classes are almost all on Zoom. For those students attending school in person, they are only doing it a few times a week. The media is circulating an excessive amount of negativity and frankly scary news! Youth group provides a space for the youth to share their thoughts and ideas and be listened to without judgment. Youth are given leadership opportunities through youth group such as leading youth group games with their peers. When we had a speaker come from Roanoke Area Ministries to speak with the youth on homelessness and hunger many of the youth expressed interest in how they could volunteer with their families to continue to help families facing homelessness and hunger. Youth ministry is important in developing the whole person.

I am fortunate to have been able to have an internship at the church. I was also able to see and do the behind- the -scenes work, learn how youth ministry should be structured, was able to develop lesson plans and games and go a step further and implement those lessons and games. It was a highlight of my last semester at Roanoke College, especially since all of our classes were on Zoom. Some of my favorite memories include participating in the CROP Hunger Walk and helping film Children’s Chapel. Your youth have given me hope that God’s work prevails in the world, no matter what the year throws our way. It has been a gift to watch your youth be leaders among their peers. Each of them has gifts that they brought openly with them to youth group. How resilient they were in having to practice social distancing and wearing masks!

This internship has been an affirmation for me that God is calling me to youth ministry. St. John’s has shown me how much goes into youth ministry, and that it truly is a group effort. I am so excited and grateful to announce that I have accepted a part- time position at College Lutheran Church as their Coordinator for Children Youth and Family Ministries.  I will be discerning my call to further my education in seminary. Truth be told, I am going to miss you all very much. Thank you for the ability to engage in your ministry and an enlightening four months!

                                                            Blessings to you,

                                                            Katy Gattuso

                                                            Roanoke College Class of 2020

Photo Source: Facebook

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