Local youth ministry directors gathered this week in the Bourbonnais/Kankakee area to exchange ideas and share resources on how to empower young people growing in their faith. It’s a collaboration that continues every month.

Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie (second and third from right) sit in on a regional meeting of youth ministry leaders. Fr. Dan Belanger, second from left.

With educating young people at the root of the Viatorian mission, is it any surprise that a pair of Viatorian associates are part of the backbone of this collaboration?

Associate Michelle Barrie in her office as Coordinator of Catholic Ministry at Bishop McNamara Catholic School

Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie started as youth ministers at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee in 1982 then added St. Teresa Church in 1992, St. Martin of Tours in 2013 and St. Joseph in Bradley in 2018. What’s more, they have accompanied young people every summer on a mission trip to Pembroke County for 20 years.

They now 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.

Associate Ken Barrie helps direct teen volunteers in sorting donations on Harvest Sunday

Their day starts by meeting with student members of the Catholic Ministry team in their office at the BMCS Kankakee site. Working in the Catholic Ministry Office allows them to see students on a daily basis.

“The impact they’ve had on youth service is unmatched,” says Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, chaplain. “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.”