My name is Craig Gould. As a husband, father, graduate student, and full-time youth coordinator, my life is full. I love it. In order to live it, I like to quote Mike Batan, a Catholic youth speaker, "The important point is not balance. The important point is healthy tension. You can spend your whole life wondering whether or not you're balanced. You need to realize there will consistently and always be tension and recognize when it is becoming unhealthy." The Youth in Theology and Ministry (YTM) Cohort program at Saint John's School of Theology·Seminary makes finding a healthy tension possible for me and my family.
My heart is with young people, especially in helping them know Christ and live authentic Christian lives. Their energy and potential inspire me. The Christian outreach organization Young Life impacted my high school and college days, so after graduating, I moved to Alaska and ministered to high school students through Young Life. I later moved on to youth ministry at a parish. Meanwhile, I met a Young Life summer intern named Katie who eventually became my wife. When we decided to leave Alaska so I could pursue graduate studies, and Saint John's School of Theology·Seminary quickly topped the list.
The high caliber education, location, financial aid opportunities, the centrality of prayer, and the YTM Cohort all drew me to this place. Through YTM, I take one class per semester and two intensive classes in the summer, leading to a pastoral ministry degree. In addition, I mentor a high school student both at the YTM Camp in the summers and for a learning project during the school year. The model of discipleship YTM uses is really successful. The young person doesn't simply come to a camp and then leave - it's not just a one-time experience. There is a community of people who help to surround these young people, to disciple them. I find that engaging for me and for them.
As Coordinator of Youth Ministries at the Church of Saint Mary in Alexandria, Minnesota, I am responsible for the faith development of young people in grades nine through twelve. My courses at the School of Theology·Seminary help me to plan retreats, organize leadership development for youth and adult volunteers, and prepare young people for the sacrament of confirmation in ways that are effective, imaginative, and consistent with Catholic teaching.
Katie and I are both committed to following God's desire for our lives and family. In order to keep the promises we've made to God, each other, and our daughters, we are intentional, diligent, and disciplined about how we live. The SOT/Sem is committed to working with us as I continue to discern my vocation and care for my family.
To donors - Thank You. Thank you for the opportunity to study, to be trained, to pursue dreams that otherwise I could not pursue. To study God is a great privilege. Your support makes it possible. It is the mystery and the gift of the incarnation to receive what you can never pay back. People give to the school, not expecting to be paid back. To receive Jesus in this way, from people giving like him, is humbling, and I'm very, very thankful for it.
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