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1956 ‘PIONEER’ CLASS: Women of the first graduating class from Mercy High School, San Francisco gathered for a 60th reunion Sept. 17 in Millbrae. Organizers included Anne Marra Doran, Pat Keller and Carol Phelan Quigley.

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‘Truth brings youth,’ OLA youth minister says
September 26th, 2016
By Tom Burke

Youth ministry has been touching young lives for decades. It was a gift to me as a kid in Wildwood, New Jersey, 50 years ago and is an active front for youth in the Archdiocese of San Francisco today. Chris Mariano leads the effort at Our Lady of Angels Parish in Burlingame. Chris has been active professionally in youth ministry for almost 20 years, the last four at OLA where he is coordinator of youth ministry and confirmation director.

“I truly feel they are attracted to truth,” Chris told me about young Catholics. He said youth develop wide-eyed ideas of the world from “information inundating their world through the multitude of media sources.” Youth ministry can help focus the vision, Chris said. “We reveal the truth of the church and the Gospel. We can have mature debates and discussions on the issues.”

Having a program as a base and support from their own youth community is what keeps youth coming back, Chris said. “We train them to help each other be accountable until we meet again,” Chris said. Service is also a major plank. “They love helping in retreats and sharing their faith, gifts and most of all investing their time in their peers.”

Chris said it’s not enough for youth ministers to hold meetings and give advice.

“I truly feel that youth ministry is family ministry,” Chris said. “We cannot engage with our youth until we have a relationship with their family. It is truly a team sport. We do our best to involve parents in our ministry.”

Some of a youth minister’s job is to get out of the way, Chris said. “As a minister I love using retreats because now I become a connector. I can’t have all the answers for the youth and their families but I can bring them or show them where the answers could be found. I let me be me and let God be God.” Chris said youth ministry has to be more than a sidebar to parish life and it is vital to make attempts to reach all youth in the parish.

Chris said he is “humbled” to be called to youth ministry and the work he gets to do on behalf of youth.

An Archdiocese of San Francisco Youth Mass will be celebrated Oct. 16. Chris said it is a day U.S. bishops have set aside to pray for youth.

“Not only are we celebrating our youth but we are closing out the Year of Mercy. We will be having a social outreach fellowship to follow Mass. It will give opportunity to our youth to participate and gain knowledge on social justice projects that they can do that day and continue beyond. All youth are invited. We invite parish youth groups, confirmation programs and our Catholic high schools to join us in community, serving, prayer and thanksgiving.”

The Youth Mass begins at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Daly City. Bishop William Justice is principal celebrant and homilist; (415) 614-5650;

RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES: St. Vincent de Paul Society North Marin Auxiliary fashion show and luncheon, Marin Country Club, Novato, Oct. 12, doors open 11 a.m., no host bar, lunch at noon, $35; Gwen Johnson, (415) 883-3055.

St. Dominic’s St. Jude Novena Oct 20-28 at the church; preacher is Dominican Father Robert Christian. St. Jude Pilgrimage Oct. 22, from Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi to St. Dominic Church, (415) 931-5919;

Email items and electronic pictures – jpegs at no less than 300 dpi to or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. My phone number is (415) 614-5634.

From September 29, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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