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Mariah Smith joins SEAS as new youth minister

Mariah Smith is the new youth minister at SEAS. (Submitted photo)

On Aug. 29, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church welcomed a new person to its staff. Mariah Smith is the new youth minister at SEAS.

As youth minister, Smith will be working with junior and senior high school students (grades seven through 12), running confirmation classes for senior high students and EDGE for junior high students. She also oversees the monthly Lifeline program and will be responsible for any number of conferences and retreats. This year, she’ll be leading more than 200 students.

It’s a job that Smith has been wanting to do since she was a teenager.

“I actually started wanting to be a youth minister when I was in high school,” she said.

Her own youth minister had a huge impact on her life, she said. At the age of 13, her parents divorced, and Smith found herself going through a really hard time. Although she was born and raised as a Catholic, it wasn’t until her high school years that her faith really became her own. She said that children often live their faith hand-in-hand with their parents, attending services and programs with them. But as children grow, they need to learn how to live that faith themselves.

“It was my youth minister who really helped me live my faith as an adult,” she said.

That youth minister taught her the power of prayer and hope, she explained, and now her parents are back together.

“It’s been amazing how being faithful to prayer and having hope has made things incredible,” she said.

Her experience inspired her; she asked her youth minister how she, too, could become a youth minister. With advice and recommendations in hand, she ended up attending St. Thomas University, where she got a degree in Catholic studies. She took on volunteering work around the cities as well as an internship before joining SEAS parish. Now, she has the job she’s prepared for.

“I’m happy to be here, I’m really happy to be here,” she said. “I feel really blessed to have this job.”

Although Smith started her new position at the end of August, she hasn’t yet started her classes. Her first confirmation class is this Sunday, and junior high classes begin Sept. 26. For now, she’s been preparing for lessons and gathering and training volunteers for small groups.

“It’s a lot of planning right now,” she said.

For her first year here, she said she just wants to get to know the people and community.

“I’m just really trying to connect with as many people as possible,” she said. “I want to get to know these people and get to know what they need from me.”

After that, she’s hoping to be able to provide a consistent youth group night and a program where high school kids can come and talk about their faith with each other, learn about themselves and learn about God.