By Barb Arland-Fye
Pat McCauley, who recently received a diocesan award for his dedication to youth ministry, will retire at the end of June and await God’s next plan for him.
It has been nearly 11 years since McCauley accepted the full-time position of youth ministry coordinator for St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.
“I always felt there was something more for me than being in the business world,” says Pat, who spent many years in that world. His wife, Peg, encouraged him to consider the youth ministry position at their parish when it became available.
He got the job after an interview with the late Father Jack Denning, who was pastor at St. Paul the Apostle at that time.
Pat envisioned youth and adults doing things together to serve God’s people in their parish and beyond. He envisioned youth being fortified in their faith so that it would sustain them on their life’s journey.
“Faith is an important part of my life,” says Pat. When youth make time in their demanding schedules for faith-related service projects, Bible study, retreats, rallies and other activities, he is encouraged.
“It’s so thrilling to see kids excited about something that is going to be with them for the rest of their life – (faith) will get them through the ups and downs in their lives.”
He speaks from experience. Both of his parents died during his childhood, which was devastating. In more recent years, he has struggled with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Several years ago, because of a flare up of MS, Pat decided to cut back and become a co-coordinator of the parish’s youth ministry program with Lynn Leming. She coordinates programming for junior high students and he for senior high school students.
Pat concentrates on not only getting youth involved in faith-related activities, but asking them to take on leadership roles. Souper Bowl of Caring — an annual food drive and community service project — is one example where “young people take ownership in activities,” he says.
Ben Jones, an active member of the youth group and the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee (DYMC), appreciates Pat’s respect for youth and his willingness to take time to get to know them one-on-one. “He’s easy to relate to and is an all-around great guy,” says Ben, a senior at Assumption High School in Davenport.
At Pat’s suggestion, Ben will participate in a Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreat Feb. 14-16 at St. Paul’s. Pat is the lay director for that TEC with Leigh Boorn of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport.
For his dedication to youth ministry, the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee honored Pat with a leadership award during last fall’s High School Youth Rally.
He was stunned when his name was announced. “I felt others should be up there with me — the people I worked with, all the kids, all the people I’ve been in ministry with … because they are the reason this was happening.”
Pat Finan, the diocese’s faith formation and youth ministry coordinator, is grateful for Pat McCauley’s efforts.
“He empowers young people to live as disciples and draws them into responsible participation in the church by encouraging youth to take leadership roles in St. Paul the Apostle’s youth ministry, nudging them into the Catholic Leadership Institute and consistently having youth from St. Paul the Apostle representing the Davenport Deanery on the DYMC,” Finan says. “He nurtures their personal and spiritual growth by promoting a strong atmosphere of prayer and worship at St. Paul the Apostle and encouraging youth to attend retreats, rallies and other opportunities.”
Pat Finan is impressed at how people respond to Pat McCauley.
“Pat has persisted in his ministry despite the challenge of multiple sclerosis. He rarely uses MS as an excuse and whenever his body and schedule allow him to be at an event or meeting, he brings a depth of thought to the table that is priceless,” Pat Finan says.
Pat McCauley is grateful for that opportunity, and for new ones. “I don’t know what’s next. I’m leaving it up to God to show me what it is.”