Jeff Hedglen: A Heart for Youth Ministry

Jeff Hedglen: A Heart for Youth Ministry

Date published: Apr. 18, 2016

Mr. Jeff Hedglen ‘00, a youth minister at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Fort Worth, Texas and School of Ministry alumnus, describes himself as welcoming, dedicated and compassionate. “I was led to the University of Dallas,” he said, “because I wanted to take the next step in learning about my faith.”

Involved in youth ministry for 25 years, he credits his time at UD with taking his ministry to a new level. “It completely changed my ability to be an effective communicator of the Catholic faith,” Mr. Hedglen said.

After participating in parish-based Scripture study for about 10 years prior to enrolling in the master’s in theological studies (M.T.S.) program at the School of Ministry, Mr. Hedglen was drawn to developing a broader teaching base for his work with youth.

“The most important thing my M.T.S. taught me is where to look for answers to questions about the Catholic faith,” he said.

He remembers his overall experience at UD as an excellent one. So excellent, in fact, that a few years after earning his master’s he joined the Catholic Biblical School to continue learning. “It was fantastic! I received a snapshot of 2,000 years of biblical history in four years.”

As a seasoned minister, Mr. Hedglen said that “youth ministry is not a cookie cutter job,” and shares his three-tiered philosophy for working with young people.

First, give youth a positive experience at church. Second, offer a real encounter with the living Christ, and third, allow youth to put down roots in the Catholic faith. His aim in the beginning is to “let the kids know why they need a savior,” he said.

Mr. Hedglen’s greatest joy comes from conversion. “There is no greater experience than seeing young people meet the living Jesus in a powerful, life changing way,” he said.

As a result of his studies, he has seen expansion in his personal ministry and professional life. He is currently an adjunct instructor in the School of Ministry and has had the opportunity to teach Year One of the Catholic Biblical School, as well as the deacon formation program at the Diocese of Tyler. Mr. Hedglen also writes for the North Texas Catholic. None of which, he said, would have happened without his time at UD.

Mr. Hedglen concluded, “I am most passionate about assisting people in coming in contact with the love of God found in Christ Jesus. It is encountering God’s love that still drives me after 25 years in ministry at St. Bartholomew.”

Originally published in Tower Magazine, Summer 2011.

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