Masters of icebreakers honored

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They are masters of icebreakers, know the lyrics to every Matt Maher song, own dozens of WorkCamp T-shirts and above all, possess a deep love for bringing Christ to teens and college-age Catholics.

Youth and campus ministers from around the diocese gathered for the annual Mass and appreciation dinner at St. Joseph Church in Herndon Dec. 15 with Bishop Paul S. Loverde.

During the evening Mass, Bishop Loverde spoke of the difficulties of raising children in a culture that is so rapidly changing, often in a way that is antithetical to the Catholic faith.

"(It is distressing to) think about our children trying to maneuver in this culture, like the city of Jerusalem wandering away from God," he said.

"However, during this season of Advent we are called to remember that we do not walk alone … and neither do our children. God is with those who are wandering," he said.

After Mass, the youth leaders headed to dinner where Bishop Loverde praised the many ministers and volunteers who walk each day with the youths, especially Director of Youth Ministry Kevin Bohli. The intentionality that the parishes put into having specific youth ministries is incredible and admirable, said the bishop. "This is the best diocesan office of campus ministry and youth ministry in the entire world," he said, to the applause of the crowd.

Several awards were given to the dedicated volunteers and employees who run youth ministries in the parishes, schools and universities around the diocese. Ashton Mallon won the Ex Corde Award for service to a campus ministry for her work at Marymount University in Arlington. The Bishop Loverde Award for exceptional volunteer service at diocesan youth events was given to Brigid Williams, a parishioner of Church of the Nativity in Burke, for her years working in the projects office at WorkCamp.

Father Ed Bresnahan was awarded the St. John Bosco Award for his work as chaplain of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. Like St. John Bosco with his circus tricks, "He has been known to use backflips and handsprings to win the attention of teens," said Youth Apostle Father Jack Peterson, who with Bishop Loverde presented the award. Beyond showing the students the love of Christ, Father Bresnahan serves as the announcer at Ireton football games, and has been known to compete in the lip sync battle at WorkCamp to "Livin' on a Prayer," said Father Peterson.

Father Peterson quoted an Ireton senior saying , "Being able to hang out with Father B. during free times and lunch is not just one of the best parts of my day, but one of the best parts of my high school career." Known for frequently taking selfies with the students, Father Bresnahan took out his phone and took a quick picture with the bishop on stage, to the amusement of his fellow youth minsters.

The More Award for a lifetime of commitment to young people was given to Teresa Reyes, director of Hispanic ministry at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington, where she has been a parishioner for the past 35 years.

"I've always had a heart for children and young adults. I was born with that vocation," she said. Reyes works to involve Hispanic youths with the larger St. Charles youth group, and especially encourages them to participate in WorkCamp. When many Hispanic youths could not afford to attend, she started organizing fundraisers involving the whole family.

Several young adults from the parish came to support her at the appreciation dinner. "I believe children are the future of our church and our Latino American community is very large," she said. "They need to get more empowered to serve God."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Peter Clem, All Saints Catholic Church

Theresa Heaney, Bishop Ireton Catholic High School

Anne-Marie Funk, Bishop O'Connell Catholic High School

Sister Tracey Catherine Uphoff, Bishop O'Connell Catholic High School

Carolyne Strain, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

Dan Connole, Cathedral of St. Thomas More

Fé Fernandez, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church

Kimberly Siepmann, Church of the Nativity

Ed Gemperline, Good Shepherd Catholic Church

Kurt Rausch, Good Shepherd Catholic Church

Margi Loesel, Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Alyssa Gurley, Marymount University Campus Ministry

Erica Reynosa, Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church

Jonathan de Bernardo, Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church

Mitzi Carlin, St. Ambrose Catholic Church

Mike Mahler, St. Ambrose Catholic Church

James Poole, St. Ann Catholic Church

Tito España, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

Dominic & Victoria Corcoran, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church

Ann Ferraro, St. John Neumann Catholic Church

Rob D'Orso, St. John the Apostle

Jeremy Bolich, St. Jude Catholic Church

Jay Downing, St. Jude Catholic Church

John Allen, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church

JessicaNg, St. Mark Catholic Church

Anne Yehl, St. Mary of Sorrows Catholic Church

Tom Malanga, St. Patrick Catholic Church

Soo Jung Woo, St. Paul Chung Catholic Church

Ashley Huss, St. Timothy Catholic Church

Manny Delacruz, St. Timothy Catholic Church

Jennifer VanDaele, St. Veronica Catholic Church

Excellence in Youth Ministry Award

Nicholas Lucchesi Northern Virginia Junior Catholic Youth Organization

Rev. Ramon Dominguez, Y.A., Don Bosco Center

Lisa Schumacher, St. Patrick Catholic Church

St. Maria Goretti

Sylvia Dahlhauser, St. Mary of Sorrows

St. Dominic Savio

Michael Maimone, St. Leo the Great

St. John Bosco

Fr. Edward Bresnahan, Bishop Ireton High School

Ex Corde Award

Ashton Mallon, Marymount University Campus Ministry

Bishop Loverde Award

Brigid Williams, Church of the Nativity

The More Award

Teresa Reyes, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015