Pistorius hired to work with teen campus
“This is my niche,” said Joey Pistorius about his position as associate director for high school campus ministry in the archdiocesan CYO/ Young Adult Ministry office. “I’m a liaison between (high schools) and the archdiocese, providing resources, being at tentive to their needs, figur ing out their needs and how we can accommodate them.”
Pistorius, 27, came on board in July. Since this is a newly created position, he said he could tailor it to what high schools desire.
“I have the opportunity to focus on the needs of the schools and better serve them,” he said.
He’s met with about a third of the 22 Catholic high school campus ministers and hopes by the end of October to have met them all.
What’s struck him most so far has been the diversity of prayer and worship in campus ministry. It’s as unique as each school’s charism and student body, he said.
“It gives you a deep love for the human experience and helps you be more sympathetic to the diverse world we live in,” he said. “We’re all Catholic – diverse and yet the same.”
His initial concentration will be identifying the “ripe fruit” of each school and encouraging collaboration among campus ministers so that by sharing their strengths, all will benefit. For example, how does Archbishop Rummel nurture so many graduates to choose the priesthood or the Academy of Sacred Heart have such a large number of graduates choosing the Jesuit Volunteer Corps?
Another goal is to establish a standard by which Catholic campus ministry can be measured, using the USCCB’s “Renewing the Visions” youth ministry document as a guide.
“We’re going to collaborate together to develop best practices,” he said. “Each school can figure out if it fits their student climate.”
Pistorius’ other endeavor: creating a resource binder for campus ministers that might list such information as where local retreat sites are, helpful books to read, etc.
Spiritual gifts abound
Pistorius grew up in Lakeview. He attended St. Pius X School and Archbishop Rummel High School, where he said students, like him, were strongly rooted in a Catholic faith tradition and spirituality. As a sophomore at Rummel, his faith life changed during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal New Orleans (CCRNO) event on campus.
“I had a big conversion and fell in love with Jesus and decided I wanted to study religion in college,” Pistori ous said. “From there, it branched out to doing things in the diocese.” He attended the Jesuit-run Manresa House of Retreats as a freshman, and went to Medjugorje as a senior in high school with the Sojourners of the Burning Heart youth group, where he was a core member. (He’s returned several times).
“That launched my ministry to young adults,” he said. “Sojourners was a huge part of my life. I owe a huge part of my spiritual life to them.”
He attended Our Lady of Holy Cross College but transferred to Spring Hill in Mobile “to go somewhere else to explore” who he was. There, he earned a degree in theology in 2011 and met his wife, a nursing student from Georgia who got him involved in Spring Hill’s SHAPE (Spring Hill’s College Awakening Program).
After graduation, he re turned to New Orleans and spent three years as campus minister at Archbishop Hannan High in Covington.
“They were doing so many amazing things that I wanted to be a part of this team,” he said. Pistorius said the school’s principal, Dominican Father Charles Latour, helped him develop the more practical part of being a religious professional.
As the campus minister liaison, he’d like a greater relationship established between classroom religious instruction and student service projects and advocacy, aligning with each school’s charism.
He plans to develop a closer ties with campus ministry associations such as the Association of Campus Ministers for Excellence (ACME) and Re- ligious Chairpersons Association), open to Catholic high school campus ministers, principals and chairpersons and teachers of theology or religion. He hopes to rework one of their three yearly meetings into a reflection day.
“I want to take that and break out into regions, have regional meetings with youth ministers, campus ministers and chaplains to connect schools to parish life,” he said. Pistorius believes if Catholic parish “family roots” are established, students might retain their faith in college and have a faith home to return to after graduation.
He’s now back at Our Lady of Holy Cross College adding another resource to his esume – a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling. Being Hannan’s campus minister showed him the need at schools to connect struggling families with helpful resources.
“I want to be able to help families who have challenges in everyday life and get them to the resources they need,” he said.
Pistorius sees himself as an asset to the CYO/Young Adult team and hopes to complement what high schools are already doing in campus ministry.
“I think I’m going to bring a new energy and excitement to schools ... allowing the archdiocese to have a presence from this office,” he said. “I bring a passion for adolescent ministry, a sense of newness and clear vision.”