For more than 20 years, Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie have served as youth ministers at St.
Patrick Church in Kankakee. Their youth group includes junior high and high school students from three parishes in all, including neighboring St. Teresa and St. Martin parishes.
They meet every Sunday in meetings that include prayer, service, faith formation and social time. The Barries also lead the teens on service trips, notably every summer to Pembroke Township, as well as other projects and leadership opportunities.
Within the last year, the Barries have added another ministry to their load. They meet with seventh and eighth graders enrolled in the Bishop McNamara Catholic School system, and encourage them to live out their faith by serving others.
This Lenten season, Bishop McNamara’s Catholic Ministry Office and Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, have woven into their Lenten
journey a discovery of God’s gift of creating the earth. Consequently, each week students look for ways to support the earth and its ecosystems as a way of valuing God’s creation.
Under the Barrie’s leadership, the seventh and eighth graders are raising money for Heifer International, the global nonprofit organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities.
They also will be taking the students down to Pembroke Township in April, located approximately 30 miles from Kankakee, but a world apart in terms of its extreme poverty. The trip is part service project and part retreat. After spending the morning working to help local residents, the students will meet at the Sacred Heart Mission Church for prayer and discussion.
In working with these teens, the Barries feel that they are carrying out the mission of the Viatorian Community, which is to minister to and with young people, and accompany them in their faith development.