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 Neuhoff Institute 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 Neuhoff Institute,
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,”
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 Neuhoff Institute 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.