Kateri Mancini, ‘08

Kateri Mancini ’08 Promoted to Director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Saint Cloud

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May 15, 2018

Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary ’08 graduate Kateri Mancini is eager to bring her values of service and building relationships to her new position as the Director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

Mancini explained that the community-centric atmosphere that surrounds Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary and the campus has deepened her appreciation for her new role connecting with the St Cloud community parishes. She feels at home in the Saint John’s community, but her connections to this place began long before she was a student. Mancini has deep and enduring roots in the landscape of the School of Theology and Seminary.

At birth, she was named after the first statue on the Stella Maris Chapel Trail path. The statue depicts Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk Christian who at the age of 19 defied her family and clan to convert to Christianity. Inscribed under the statue is ‘Lily of the Mohawks’, a name given to Tekakwitha honoring her purity.

Growing up as the daughter of a Johnnie father and a Bennie mother, Mancini made frequent visits to the campuses over the years where she would insist, “I will go to St John’s when I grow up.” Despite years of being told she cannot attend the school for young men, she persisted and made it true through her studies at St John’s School of Theology.

Mancini attended SOT through the Youth in Theology and Ministry Program (YTM) as an adult mentor. Through this program, Mancini took various theology classes toward her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Pastoral Ministry on a part-time basis while mentoring the youth students who attended the YTM summer program, in addition to continuing her work in youth ministry and faith formation at the Diocese of New Ulm. The YTM program model was a blessing to Mancini as she could not only receive her degree, but also practice hands-on service in the community, gain leadership development experience, and grow in faith through shared experiences with youth, her YTM adult mentor cohort, and professors.

Mancini explains, “It’s fascinating to be in a setting where I can have conversation with others in ministry and others struggling with the same questions, who are really digging into theology; how theology really is a part of all of our lives.”

In fact, it was through classmates from her YTM cohort that she found her first position at the Diocese of St. Cloud that lead to her eventual promotion to her current position. In her new role, Mancini uses her skills in building relationships and community networks to address issues surrounding the local parish communities.

“We're really striving to identify the leaders that are already in these communities and help empower them and give them resources if they need,” Mancini states. “We help them learn about community organizing and identifying other leaders in their community and assist in building that network of leadership for addressing the needs of each of those communities…in one parish community, the needs might be heavy in food security and another, it might be unemployment or job security. In another, it might be mental illness or the immigrant community. We’re trying to help them be the voice of what their needs are and then identify other members in their community who can work on those concerns.”

Though just beginning the position in February, Mancini already has set a high bar for goals that she looks forward to working toward in her position. Research has shown in recent years that though young adult populations value social justice and working in communities to make meaningful change, this demographic is disengaging from faith and religious organizations. Mancini wants to bring these groups together.

“To me, why I do social justice is so connected to my faith and to the church, but there seems to be a disconnect for a lot of people in that area. So, my hope would be that we who see that connection between our faith and justice and change in our communities can help find a way to voice that and share that with others…I would love to be able to say, here we are making meaningful change and fighting for justice, and we're doing it because of our faith.”

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