Office of Catholic Youth director Fr. Frank Portelli

OCY seeking to fill leadership roles as it takes new direction

  • June 27, 2012

TORONTO - In building upon the good work that past directors of the Office of Catholic Youth have accomplished, two new positions will be added to the archdiocese of Toronto’s youth office, said director Fr. Frank Portelli.

He’s currently on the hunt for a new associate director for youth and an associate director for young adults. The roles will target youth in Grades 6 to 12 and those aged 18 to 35, respectively.

“Even the existing educational system is structured in such a way that it caters to people at different age levels… so we’re just trying to model what is happening in the existing structures that are out there,” Portelli told The Catholic Register.

“We’re not re-inventing anything, we’re just trying to copy what is the best practice and that’s the most basic distinction: pre-adult and adult.”

Portelli said OCY is trying to build youth and young adult ministry at the local level and the primary focus will be serving parishes.

After Portelli was hired, Cardinal Thomas Collins asked him to take time to visit different dioceses to see where youth ministry is heading. Along with this, he attended three gatherings of national diocesan directors: one in Canada and two in the United States.

“From there, it became evident to me that these people took all the good work that had been happening in their own dioceses… and brought it to another level of service to parishes.”

The associate director for youth will collaborate with those already doing youth ministry in parishes and listen to their needs and desires, he said. The person will also be supporting them.

“The burnout rate for youth ministers in parishes is nine to 16 months so that means they’re not balancing life and ministry properly.”

Once those networks and relationships are built, potential for desired events will be decided.

The associate director for young adults’ task might be a bit more challenging, he said.

“There will still be similar things like parish-based young adult ministries but I think it’s a different animal in that it involves college and universities and these people already have chaplains doing that good work, but there is a role for the diocesan office to help co-ordinate that,” he said.

But Portelli is clear he doesn’t want to impose anything on anyone.

“If people are interested in things where there are discussions with the regional bishops, the cardinal, guest speakers, wherever this movement is coalescing, that’s where I want to be.”

The person that considers youth ministry or young adult ministry their vocation and not a job is really the person that’s going to bring excitement and knowledge to bear, said Portelli.

“I want youth ministry and young adult ministry to flourish.”

Deadline for applications is July 10. For more information, see

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