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Youth minister echoes the 'Good News of God'

December 27, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

marlob@herald-mail.com

Six months into her youth ministry position at St. Ann Catholic Church in Hagerstown, Linda Snyder is hoping to take her programs on the road.

"We are planning to do some activities at Hagerstown Cinema 10 on the Leitersburg Pike," Snyder said. "It would be another way to encourage youth to climb out of their boxes."

Snyder said she already is getting good feedback from other youth ministers in the ecumenical effort to attract Christian bands and other youth-friendly activities to the area.

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Assistant to the director of religious education at the parish, Snyder is now a part-time employee of the parish in which she grew up, volunteered and has raised her children.

She is continuing to work as Youth Alive minister and helping enhance religious education programs for those in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

Recently, about 20 youth journeyed to Avalon Nursing home to brighten up their day. There not only was special music but some of the residents' requests.

One teen and two adults sewed tote bags for the event. The youth and the residents worked together with fabric markers to decorate the bags, which then were attached to their walkers and wheelchairs.

Each resident also received a wrapped gift and shared Christmas cookies.

"I am proud of the youth for all the love they shared with the residents. They were all so mature and responsible," Snyder said.

Prior to starting her new job last summer, Snyder was a temporary youth minister at the parish. After the birth of her first child, she was invited to become a catechism teacher by Sister Dorothy Malone, then the parish's director of religious education.

At first terrified at the thought of standing up in front of a classroom, working with the children grew on her and Snyder remained a catechist for the next 20 years. She also was active with the parish confirmation program.

Recently, Snyder began looking for new challenges and prayed for guidance. Her prayers were answered when she found herself in her present position.

"I have developed a credo with the youth, trying to teach them about community, fellowship, social responsibilty, while having fun," Snyder said.

One of her favorite projects in her new job has been the creation of a newsletter, "Echo the Good News of God," which is written by and for the religious education students. Kids write articles about anything - projects they've been working on, original poetry and even their personal faith testimonies.

They turn their articles in to Snyder, who compiles them into the newsletter, which is distributed among all the religious education students.

Working with the Youth Alive program, Snyder meets with the group once a month. Youth gather for a Mass, in which they are active participants as ushers, lectors, musicians, etc.

When Mass ends, the youth stay for an organized event. Recently the youth participated in a Haitian luau. While enjoying the social atmosphere, the students also organized contributions of clothing and sandals for St. Ann's sister parish in Haiti.

A native of Hagerstown, Snyder attended St. Maria Goretti High School. She and her husband, Timothy, have two sons, Tyler, 22; and Christian, 14. As a member of St. Ann's parish, Snyder also serves as a Eucharistic minister.

For more information, go to www.stannhagerstown.parishesonline.com on the Web.

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