By Celine Klosterman
Don Boucher, a self-described “Iowan at heart” with three decades of youth ministry experience, will begin work as the Diocese of Davenport’s coordinator of youth and young adult ministry July 1.
Currently director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, Ga., Boucher will provide training, resources and leadership for ministry leaders in southeast Iowa, develop events such as rallies and retreats for young Catholics, and fulfill other responsibilities.
“I have always found tremendous joy in working with young people and with the adults who minister to them,” he said. “As I have moved through the years in this ministry, I have found that my gifts and my personality are especially suited to diocesan ministry, and I have grown to truly love serving the Church in this capacity.”
Boucher spent 10 years as director of youth ministry at St. Joseph Educational Center in West Des Moines beginning in 1979, then served for nine years as coordinator of youth ministry at St. Mary of Nazareth Church in Des Moines. Following 11 years as director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., he worked as director of faith formation and pastoral associate for St. Mary’s in Centerville from 2009-10. Since 2011 he has worked in the Diocese of Savannah, which includes 55 parishes in 90 counties in the southern half of Georgia.
In the Diocese of Davenport he succeeds Pat Finan, who worked as faith formation and youth ministry coordinator until Dec. 19.
Boucher said his vision for youth and young adult ministry for any diocese includes three things:
– “That every parish community comes to truly value its youth and young adults as integral and full members of their faith community TODAY, not just tomorrow when they grow up (as in “the future of the Church”). Only when parishes get this will they truly be enriched by and know the incredible gift of the young Church, and youth and young adults will consider their parish as “home” and a significant community in their lives.”
– “That every parish community has a competent, well-trained and well-formed designated leader for ministry with adolescents. This person doesn’t have to be full-time, part-time or even paid. To be successful and effective, leaders for ministry must be more than just well-intentioned individuals who love their faith and their church. These are important, but having skills and knowledge directly related to “doing” organized ministry is key to effective ministry.”
– “That those who serve the young Church throughout the diocese see the diocesan office as a key source of support and service to them. Our mission as a diocesan office is to serve those who serve the young Church in their parishes/schools. Sometimes diocesan offices can be seen as detached, removed from or even a burden to local parish ministers. One of my key goals is to develop a reputation and practice of true service and support to and for parish leaders, and to develop a sense of partnership in ministry to youth and young adults. All of us have a part to play in developing effective ministry, and I want to be sure that we (the diocese) play our part well.”
Boucher and his wife Candy, an Iowa native, look forward to returning to the state. “Although Massachusetts is my state of origin, I’m really an Iowan at heart,” he said. The couple has a son, daughter and four grandchildren in Des Moines, plus two sons in Nashville, Tenn., and Louvain, Belgium.
Boucher’s dedication to youth and young adult ministry impressed the committee of eight diocesan and parish staffers who interviewed him, said Mary Wieser, diocesan director of faith formation. “He wholeheartedly believes the work of the Church is his vocation in life.” He has charisma with youths and co-workers, said Wieser, who worked with him when she was principal of Holy Trinity Catholic School in Des Moines.
Since 1990 Boucher also has taught in the youth ministry certificate program through the Center for Ministry Development in Washington State; some of his courses take place at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. There Diane Tone, now youth minister at St. Mary’s in Fairfield, met him four years ago. “At that time I felt called to youth ministry but didn’t know anything about it,” she said. “It was through Don’s experience and knowledge that a fire was lit within me and a passion for youth ministry began. Don has been a mentor for me, and I am thrilled that he will be our new diocesan youth and young adult ministry coordinator.”
Boucher earned a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago in 1990 and a certificate in youth ministry studies in 1985. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in communication studies – speech and drama in 1974. His hobbies include playing guitar and singing; he said he’s been a liturgical musician for more than 40 years.
Maida Rivera, who worked with Boucher when she was coordinator of Latino youth ministry for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., said the Davenport Diocese is blessed to have him. “I learned so many things from his leadership style. He is trustworthy, empowering, inspirational, task and people oriented. What most distinguished Don as a youth director were his dedication, charisma, love and understanding of youth. He was always attentive to the needs of the Hispanic youth community… He is diligent and a hard worker even when no one is looking. He is deeply dedicated to youth, and believes in them wholeheartedly.”