Dear UCYM Community,
For over five years now, UCYM has delivered vibrant youth and young adult ministry to the young people of the parishes in the Evanston region of the Archdiocese of Chicago and even a little beyond. UCYM was created as a way forward, a vision of what a new reality for ministry for and with young people could be post-Renew My Church. I am personally very proud of what we have accomplished. I also acknowledge that, with Renew My Church, comes change and an openness to what the Spirit calls us to. I am reminded of the line in the Renew My Church prayer that calls us to "surrender our own plans readily."
In March of 2023, we found out that St. John Newman Parish would not be renewing its support of UCYM. With that, St. John XXIII Parish has had the opportunity to discern what it wants for its young people as well. It has been made clear that the parish would prefer to go in the direction of a single-parish ministry for young people than continue with the UCYM model. I believe this will be good for the parish as it continues to build a new reality.
With some sadness, I am letting the community know that effective August 25, 2023, UCYM will no longer be in service of St. John XXIII Parish. Some news will be forthcoming about the next chapter for UCYM, which has given us a lot of hope. I have resigned from my position within the parish effective the same date and will be moving on. I have been with the Evanston area in active ministry for nine wonderful years. It has been an honor and privilege to have worked with so many incredible people during this part of my journey in ministry and I look forward to what is next.
Faith LaVoie and Alex Roman have chosen to resign from their positions with UCYM and remain with the parish to help them transition youth and young adult ministry into a new reality. Barbara Escobar (Associate Executive Director and Pastoral Associate), Sherley Alvarado (Senior Director of Advancement), and me remain committed to UCYM and our mission as employees and leaders. A number of volunteers and board members have also pledged their continued support of UCYM as we move into our next chapter. I continue to be humbled by the support of our team.
We leave St. John XXIII Parish recounting the many blessings we shared: a beautiful center that was renovated and blessed during Covid, a wonderful partnership with our school, thousands of hours given selflessly by hundreds of volunteers, fun, innovative, and faith-filled events and programs, and a parish of people who went above and beyond to support our work in every way imaginable. We could not have done it without any of you. I want to specifically point out the work of our Leadership Academy, which is now being used in parishes across the Archdiocese as a model for building young disciples. That legacy started right here in Evanston. Be proud, my siblings in Christ. Be proud.
Please be assured of my prayers for everyone during this time of excitement and mourning.
With immense gratitude, love, and hope,
Oblate James Holzhauer-Chuckas, ObSB