Our spiritual advisors are people who are members of the clergy, religious orders, and people who have devoted their lives to spirituality and spiritual development and who have experience working with young people. Our spiritual advisors are auxiliary members of the Board of Directors and assist in advising the board on best practices in ministry.
Rev. Joseph Tito
Retired Archdiocesan Priest
Fr. Tito is a leading founding member of UCYM and is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Fr. Tito has served at many parishes as a pastor including St. Nicholas in Evanston, Our Lady of Mercy, Holy Innocence, and Holy Name Cathedral as an associate pastor. Fr. Tito has a strong passion for youth and young adult ministry and empowering young people as leaders in the Church through our parish communities. Fr. Tito is a Resident Priest at St. Jerome Parish and helps with Masses and other project with various parishes across the Archdiocese. Fr. Tito is Italian and shares a particular devotion to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, whose national shrine is located in the downtown Chicago area.
Rev. Mr. Juan Carlos Vargas
Transitional Deacon, St. Edward Parish
Pray for Deacon Juan! He will be ordained a priest in 2024!
My name is Juan Carlos Vargas. I was born in Chicago, Illinois to parents from Zacatecas, Mexico. I grew up in Pilsen and my family began with nothing. My parents came to Chicago from Mexico when my mother was 5 months pregnant with me. My mother was always very involved in the church, St. Pius V., because that is what made her feel at home. My dad worked and continues to work hard to provide us with the best he can. I went to Jose Clemente Orozco public school in Pilsen, where Spanish was the primary language; I started speaking English in the third grade.
During elementary school, my parents made sure that I was involved in everything I wanted, including folkloric dancing, violin classes and catechism at the parish. Upon graduating from elementary school, I went to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Pilsen, and I also started working at St. Pius V Parish Youth Center. Upon graduating from high school, I decided to go to Cincinnati, Ohio to study at Xavier University. During my time at the university, I took the opportunity to travel. I always went to every social justice event, and did community service, I even had the opportunity to go to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.
My experience and motivation always was and continues to be serving others, so the career I decided to take was social worker. After I graduated, I went to Guyana, South America with Mercy Volunteer Corps, for one year of service. In Guyana, I taught personal growth and religion in a vocational school. I also helped with children in an orphanage. After that year, I returned to Chicago and worked as a foster care social worker in Child Link and after work I helped out at my Parish, Immaculate Conception on 44th and California. During my four years as a social worker I learned, after many mistakes, how to put my work in the hands of God.
As I began to put my work and life in God’s hands, I realized that I had never given myself the opportunity to see how my relationship with God was. From then on, in my moments of prayer, the call to the priesthood came out. This time, instead of running away from it, I decided to run towards it and realized that my job as a social worker was only part of how much God wanted for me. I then decided to go to the house of discernment, and then to Mundelein Seminary, to see if this call was what God wanted for me. During the past five years I have been in formation taking philosophy and theology. In May of 2023 I was ordained a transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Chicago and I am really looking forward to priesthood ordination, God willing, in May of 2024.
My life of ministry and service has been rooted in God and I am very excited about ordination and continue to accompany everyone to see where they are in relationship with God. I want to continue to encourage others to grow in love of God through their faith.
Friar Mario Serrano, OFM Conv.
Vocations Director, Conventual Franciscan Friars - Province of Our Lady of Consolation
Friar Mario Luevano Serrano, OFM Conv., has been with the Franciscan Friar Conventuals, for over two decades and is originally from a pueblito in Nuevo México, Dexter, where the friars once ministered. Mario first experience of God was through his familia. He is the 2nd of 5, 3 brothers and his youngest sibling being his sister. Mario’s sense of call was planted in his heart as a 3rd Grader, when he experienced education in a bilingual setting and received his First Communion. Since then many encuentros and ministerial experiences have shaped and formed Mario.
Mario is part of the first generation of his Mexican-American family to pursue higher education. He is the first to have a graduate degree. As a Franciscan priest, he is currently a University Minister in El Paso, Texas and a Vocation Director for the friars.
Prior to being moved to El Paso, Friar Mario was in Terre Haute, Indiana as University Minister through St. Joseph University Parish for Indiana State University, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, and St. Mary of the Woods College
A few years back, he attended OLLU for his first two years of undergraduate studies in bilingual education before moving to Washington, DC to complete his BA at Catholic University of America. Mario has a Masters of Divinity degree from Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.
Friar Mario was Director of University Ministry and adjunct faculty at Our Lady of the Lake University prior to being asked by the Franciscans to initiate and develop the University Ministry outreach in Terre Haute. Mario brings a wealth of ministerial experience. Mario has done field experience working with RCIA (Sacramental Preparation), the ACTS Retreats, ACTS HOPE retreats, World Youth Day, and ministry to and with children with special need and the terminally ill (hospice and AIDS Foundation), and prison ministry. Mario has been privileged to have mission experiences in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Zambia and Kenya.
Mario believes in service, not only giving voice to the voiceless, but also building structures of empowerment and a process where all people can reclaim their voice. “We are all called to dig deep to see divinity in all people and experiences,” Mario will respond when getting involved in local faith convening groups. Mario is quite attuned to how God works within and through people to bring about transformation in the world.
Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB
Vocation Minister, Benedictine Sisters of Chicago
After completing her PhD in Anthropology in 2000, Sr. Belinda worked as an archaeologist. She entered the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago in 2007 and took final vows in 2014. She began work as a campus minister at the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University in 2022. She also acts as vocation minister for her community and is passionate about religious life and vocational discernment. She is also an MTS student in Monastic Studies and Spirituality at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary, having completed her certificate in Spiritual Direction in July 2021.
Sister Laura Baldini, MSC
Sister of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Team Member at the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
I am Laura Baldini, a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was born in Argentina and joined the MSC, a female missionary institute founded by St. Frances X. Cabrini, in 2000. My life's purpose is to spread the love of Christ throughout the world.
Over the years, I have served in various countries including Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Swaziland, and the US. Currently, I am missioned to the National Shrine of St. Frances X. Cabrini in Chicago, where I coordinate outreach programs and other pastoral activities.
I have a master's degree in chemical engineering and am a dedicated teacher and catechist. I have taught various subjects like chemistry, physics, English, and math at several schools. I have also led pastoral ministries and advised and accompanied adults, youth, and children in schools and parishes in marginalized neighborhoods.
My focus is on faith and spiritual development, and at one point, I worked on the mission integration of an MSC institution in Africa, helping staff members. I am kind, joyful, curious, and willing to learn from other people and cultures. I am a great listener and conversationalist, and my passion is to make Jesus known and loved by everyone by the way I am, wherever I am, and in whatever I do.
Honesty, commitment, joy, courage, and passion are the core values that guide my life and journey of faith. When not teaching or ministering, I enjoy long walks, singing, listening to music, spending time with friends, watching movies, and drinking mate.
Brother Alan Parham, FSC
Director of Vocation Promotion, Brothers of the Christian Schools (Midwest District)
Brother Alan Parham is a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (FSC) for over thirty years. He is currently a member of the Vocation Team of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest and also serves as Campus Minister at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. On weekends he serves as a catechist in two parishes. He is 73 years old. He grew up in Pensacola, FL and Cleveland, TN. Before joining the Brothers, he was a Trappist monk, briefly pursued an acting career, and was a teacher in various schools and Catholic parishes. He loves prayer, working with youth, and Social Justice causes.
Oblate James Holzhauer-Chuckas, ObSB
Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict (Benedictine Sisters of Chicago)
Oblate James Holzhauer-Chuckas, ObSB is a third order member of the Order of St. Benedict and is the Executive Director of UCYM. Jame made his oblation to the St. Scholastica Monastery with the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago in 2018 and has had a lifelong relationship with the monastery and the sisters. James has a long-held passion for working with children, youth, and young adults and has done so through both secular and religious organizations. James is a fierce advocate for the poor and marginalized in society and believes in the Church, spirituality, and religious institutions as pathways for equity and inclusion. James works full-time as the Director of Lifelong Faith Formation for Old St. Mary's Parish in South Loop and part-time as an Adjunct Faculty at DePaul University.
Associate and Assistant Director of Associates with the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Pat is an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and serves as Assistant Associate Director. She takes delight in the communities with whom she ministers: UCYM, Regina Dominican High School, the Franciscan Sisters and Associates. Her ministerial focus has been youth, young adults and families. For 12 years she served as a catechist at St. Nicholas, Evanston (now St. John XXIII) working with parents and children preparing for the sacraments of First Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation.
Pat comes to UCYM with 35 years of experience working with teens in both the special ed and general education classrooms. Currently, Pat teaches theology part-time at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette. Prior to Regina Dominican, she served as a case manager and special ed teacher in a therapeutic day school.
Pat embodies a love of Creation by her involvement in several projects and committees aligned with Pope Francis’ Laudato Si. Pat helped secure funding for the design and implementation of a rain garden at St. Nick’s campus where she actively participates in cultivating a wildlife habitat garden using native plants specific to the region.
THANK YOU to our pastoral leaders!
As UCYM begins its new journey, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and express our gratitude to the many incredible bishops, priests, deacons, and religious we have had the privilege of working and collaborating with, some of whom will continue to accompany us. We honor your vocation and thank you for your service to the Church and its young people.
Our Founding Pastors
Rev. Daniel Costello
Rev. Hernan Cuevas
Rev. Kevin McCray
Rev. Joseph Tito*
Most Rev. Mark Bartosic
Most Rev. Joseph Perry
Most Rev. Alberto Rojas
Most Rev. John Stowe, OFM Conv.
Rev. Kenneth Anderson
Rev. Thomas Baldonieri
Rev. Kevin Feeney
Rev. James Halstead, OSA
Rev. Tony Joseph
Rev. Val Lima
Rev. Robert Oldershaw
Rev. Rodlin Rodrigue
Rev. Sean Smith
Rev. Paul Stemn
†Rev. Michael Wulsch
†Sister Patricia Crowley, OSB
Sister Christina Fuller, OSF
Sister Kathy Maloney, OSB
Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB*
Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ
Sister Dominga Zapata, SH
*current UCYM board member