Among 500 Teens

Student Finds a Voice Among 500 Teens

Date published: May 5, 2015

Matt ZelinksyDoes standing alone in front of 500 teens sound daunting? Grappling with such an audience as well as with “mind-blowing theological concepts,” as University of Dallas senior Matt Zelinsky describes them, is just a day in the life for 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, Texas.

“I wanted to get experience working in a parish and working with a core team 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 focuses particularly 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 the Bible.

“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. Every day 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.

"Working on my pastoral ministry capstone project has opened my eyes to truths about myself, the church and the family as it functions within both society and the faith," said Zelinsky.

News

Art Alumna's Vintage Dress Design to Debut on Red Carpet

Dallas-area native and Door Number 9 designer Elisa Choffel Low, BA '03, will have her latest dress design showcased on the red carpet at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22. The silver open-back vintage-style gown includes a striking chainmail jewelry inset created in collaboration with Toronto jewelry designer Kyra Matsui.

+ Read More

University Welcomes Leading Catholic Intellectual to Campus

On Friday, Sept. 13, the university community welcomed George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the father of two UD alumnae. Celebrated for his two-volume biography of St. John Paul II and many other intellectual contributions, Weigel presented an exploration of the current Catholic situation in light of a new interpretation of the past 250 years of the church's interaction with social, cultural, economic and political modernity.

+ Read More

Recent DBA Alumnus Begins Tenure-Track Position at UNI

Gabe Dickey, DBA '19, recently successfully defended his dissertation, titled "Exploring the Human Side of Audit Quality: Team Engagement and Partner Leadership Behaviors," for UD's Doctor of Business Administration. Dickey has spent his career in the accounting profession, the vast majority as a certified public accountant working in auditing. He began UD's DBA program three years ago, drawn in by his interest in broader business issues and the program's practitioner-oriented focus.

+ Read More