By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DEWITT — Pat Sheil feels blessed to have worked with incredible parents and teenagers in her more than 30 years of ministry at St. Joseph Parish. On June 30, she retired as the parish’s director of religious education/youth minister and passed the baton to Jasmin Tone.
Colleagues and friends say Sheil set the example for other youth ministers and had an impact on the lives of many youths over the years.
Becky Townsend, the DeWitt parish’s secretary, said “Pat’s heart is in everything she does,” whether it’s leading a team of youths at a parish dinner, participating in a parish mission trip or accompanying a bus full of teenagers to the National Catholic Youth Conference. She has motivated youths and inspired adults in the parish, Townsend added.
Mike Patin, an international Catholic speaker who spoke at the diocesan Vision 20/20 Convocation, has known Sheil for about 15 years. He admires her energy, work ethic and passion. “I’ve watched her shepherd teens, coach adults, organize people and minister to them in good and bad times, and she does it with such grace.” She takes chances to find out what works and what does not work, he said.
Don Boucher, director of the diocesan Faith Formation Office and coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said he has known and ministered with “some amazing youth ministers and Pat Sheil is right up there in my top 10.”
“Pat is a friend, mentor and advocate to and for teens, youth ministers and youth ministry. As a friend, Pat knows and loves the young people she serves and her fellow youth ministers. As a mentor, she is an experienced and trusted adviser to young people and youth ministers alike. As an advocate, Pat consistently supports and speaks up for the inclusion of young people and their gifts as well as the vital role of youth ministry in the life of the church,” Boucher said.
“I know her parish community will miss her leadership and the young people of that community will miss her love and support. Our diocesan youth ministry community will certainly miss her presence, her wisdom, her laughter, her friendship and her cooking (the woman can really cook!).”
Boucher will miss all of that, but especially her perspective, experience, counsel, passion, dedication, commitment and wonderful example of faithfulness. “She has been a blessing in my life, in the lives of our diocesan youth ministry community and in the lives of the young people she has served and loved. It seems only fitting to say: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’”
Sheil said her goal at the parish has been to plant seeds that will take root and to foster lifelong involvement in church, ministry, education and evangelism. She shares this example of efforts rewarded: five teens decided to bring their fathers along on a service trip to do home repair projects for St. Vincent Mission in Kentucky. “It was so moving to see those families work together and pray together and come together with the rest of the community,” she said.
She cherished the opportunity to accompany youths as they developed their own sense of relationship with God at Notre Dame Vision in Indiana, learned Christian leadership skills through Christian Life Institute, and built their personal relationship with Jesus through Teens Encounter Christ and Christ in Others retreats. Sheil also led religious education, sacrament preparation and other youth activities at the parish.
In her retirement, Sheil hopes to make time to “pull weeds and talk to the chickens” at the home that she shares with her husband, Deacon Mike Sheil, in rural DeWitt. “The things I have witnessed from our young people, especially in the area of service, have been amazing,” Pat Sheil said. “Their commitment and dedication to serving other people is impressive.”
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