Finding a Voice Among 500 Teens
Date Published: May 5, 2016
IRVING, TX -- Senior Matt Zelinsky says that working on his Pastoral Ministry Capstone
Project has opened his eyes to truths about himself, the Church, and the family as
it functions within both society and the faith.
Zelinsky (far left) poses with his Capstone Supervisor and fellow Neuhoff Institute
Does standing alone in front of five hundred teens sound daunting? Grappling with
such an audience as well as with “mind-blowing theological concepts” (as Zelinsky
describes them) is just a day in the life for University of Dallas senior Matt Zelinsky.
As part of his Capstone Project in the Pastoral Ministry program, Zelinsky has been
working as an intern for the youth program at St. Ann’s Catholic Parish in Coppell,
“I wanted to get experience working in a parish and working with a core team and developing
talks, retreats and more,” Zelinsky said. “By spending more time in ministry, I’ve
been able to get a feel for leading and planning ministry events.”
Zelinsky’s Capstone takes particular focus on the weekly Bible Study that forms an
integral part of St. Ann’s High School Ministry program. Zelinsky has become an expert
in weaving the Bible into any strand of thought.
Take, for example, the title of his Capstone Project: “The Family in the Church and
Society.” Zelinsky almost immediately draws on his project’s inherent relation to
“In Genesis, God said ‘Let us make man in our image,’” Zelinsky said. “He created
them male and female. In this way, the family dynamic of love is based on the Trinity
itself: God is a family. The father and the son love each other so much that they
create Love itself with the Holy Spirit.”
It is this scriptural foundation that Zelinsky has used in his approach to Youth Ministry
and the family.
“I wanted to impress upon teens the diversity of families,” Zelinsky said. “It’s not
necessarily all about where you come from--it’s about what you do with that family
dynamic. It’s important to develop real, authentic and genuine friendships and to
have support systems that you can lean on. These can be spiritual, too. Jesus had
a foster-father on earth. He was not in a ‘typical’ family.”
Prior to this work, Zelinsky had not considered himself gifted in public speaking.
Through his experiences during the Capstone Project, however, he has found and fostered
a desire to lead. Where does he start? In conversation.
“St. Paul says ‘pray without ceasing’ and I really take that to heart. Everyday I’ll
see little moments where I pray about something and then that ‘something’ will pop
up in conversations later. Those conversations are definitely guided by the Holy Spirit.”
Zelinsky’s work in ministry has been fruitful in many ways. As he nears the close
of his senior year, he has accepted a job as the Associate Director of Youth Faith
Formation at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Houston. He will start his work with
this new faith community in July.