June 30, 2017

Youth ministry director assumes position of director of catechetics and youth formation

By Rebecca Drake

(IObserve photo/Rebecca Drake)


SPRINGFIELD – Gina Czerwinski, who has served as diocesan director of youth ministry since July 2015, was recently appointed to the new position of director of catechetics and youth formation.

The new position, which she assumed on June 12, was created to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Sister of St, Joseph Paula Robillard, who has served as diocesan faith formation director for the last 23 years.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski spoke to iObserve about Czerwinski’s new appointment.

Gina Czerwinski (front row, left) is pictured with local pilgrims at World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. (IObserve photo/courtesy of Gina Czerwinski)

“When Gina joined us a year and a half ago, she came in as the support for diocesan youth ministers, but as we looked at her role and the role of catechetics for youth, it seemed a natural that Gina would grow into this role of leading in our catechetics and in our youth activities and ministries,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to Gina continuing to work with us in that new role. I know that she’s been a great, great support to our folks in the parishes and I know that she will continue to be so.”

A native of the Worcester Diocese, Czerwinski holds a bachelor’s degree in theology with a concentration in religious education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and a master’s of divinity from the Oblates School of theology in San Antonio. Her work with the youth of the Springfield Diocese has shown her that young Catholics want to be involved – and they are ready to learn.

“They’re eager, they’re willing to learn, they’re willing to grow, they’re willing to be challenged,” she told iObserve. “They love to serve.”

“And when we do large events, they’re surprised,” she continued. “They’re surprised that there are other young people that are as interested in their faith as they are, even though they don’t always want to admit it.”

Czerwinski emphasized the importance of adult catechetical and parish leaders in the work of faith formation and youth ministry. She said it will be important to consider new strategies and to dedicate personnel, particularly to youth ministry, “helping people recognize their gifts and talents who work with young people and calling that forth in our parish communities.”

Collaboration among parishes also is an important goal. “Working as parish communities with our neighboring parish communities to maybe do these (youth) events together, to be more collaborative in those efforts, I think would go a long way,” she said.

Czerwinski said she hopes to involve people of all ages throughout the diocese in conversations about how to improve “womb to tomb” faith formation and remains hopeful about the future of the Catholic Church in the 21st century.

“I’m hoping for a church that’s very vibrant and very family-focused and engaged. I want to see that womb to tomb ministry very alive and well, that people are engaged in learning about their faith, regardless of what age they are in and that our youth are helping to set the tone, moving forward, that their energy can revive us, enthuse us to go out into the mission field and serve.”

Gina Czerwinski (third from left), newly appointed director of catechetics and youth formation, is pictured with diocesan youth, youth leaders and Father Piotr Calik at a recent World Youth Day gathering at St. Mary Parish in Westfield. (Catholic Communications file photo)

Czerwinski said she is excited to serve the diocese in her new position and finds inspiration in the spirituality of today’s Catholic youth and young adults.

“They are open, they’re very open to new things, to the breadth of what the Catholic church has to offer. They’re very interested in learning the history of things and why we’ve done things the way they are,” she said. “They want to learn popular piety, devotions … because it’s just so different than the rest of society. So, they’re attracted to that.

“They want to express their spirituality,” Czerwinski said, of local youths. “They want to be engaged in the life of the parish and in the mission of the parish.”