Don’t look now, but Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie have devoted 40 years to working in youth ministry in the Bourbonnais/Kankakee region. Yet, don’t expect them to celebrate. They are too busy doing what they love: accompanying young people in service and faith formation experiences.

Associates Michelle and Ken Barrie ride with delegation members during a pilgrimage to Viatorian parishes.

Just this week, they brought a delegation from St. Patrick Church to the four-day Viatorian Youth Congress. It came just two weeks after they led their Hearts of Hope youth ministry group back to serve residents of Pembroke, one of the poorest townships in the country. In June, they introduced junior high students to the rewards of giving back, through serving for one week at local parishes and at the homes or senior residents.

All this, and it’s their summer vacation. During the school year, Ken and Michelle serve the Bishop McNamara Catholic School system, as the leaders of its Catholic Ministry Office. Their student outreach includes monthly sessions with sixth grade students at the BMCS Bradley site, as well as providing opportunities for faith formation, liturgies, Christian service and retreats for high school students.

Michelle leads a prayer workshop.

“The impact they’ve had on youth service is unmatched,” says Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV. “Whether through mission trips, Pembroke outreach, or Harvest Sunday, they are teaching youth that serving others is something that we are all called to do. And when we do it as one community, our community becomes even stronger.”

Ken Barrie enjoys a break with Br. Jhobany Orduz.

The couple started as youth ministers at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee in 1982, before adding St. Teresa Church in 1992, St. Martin of Tours in 2013 and St. Joseph in Bradley in 2018. This summer’s trip to Pembroke was their 18th, and each time they find themselves renewed by the energy — and eagerness — of teens to serve.

“We still find Pembroke a place where we deepen our relationship with the Lord,” Ken Barrie says, “and it continues to develop our faith and perspectives on our journey.”