When Christopher Fenimore was invited by his pastor, Father Peter James Alindogan, to join the parish pastoral council at St. Veronica Parish in Howell, he saw it as a way “to truly understand in great depth where our parish is and the overarching goal of leading it to where it will go next.”
“It is very fulfilling to see the needs and wants of your faith community being heard and envisioning these ideas into reality. I’ve learned so much about my Catholic faith through the teaching, guidance and wisdom of others,” he said.
Fenimore shared his thoughts from the perspective of a young adult who has been active in his faith and in the life of his parish. These are qualities that did not go unnoticed by Father Alindogan or the other pastoral council members.
“Not only do young adults give us a different perspective on the visioning of the parish, but they also inspire us in sharing their own outlooks, motivations and challenges,” said Father Alindogan.
“They are also instrumental in engaging other young people to participate in parish events and activities,” he said, adding that young adults, in general, need direction and inspiration as they continue in their faith journeys.
“Having the young encounter fellow PPC members, who themselves had been directed and inspired a generation or two earlier, and listen to their perspectives gives them and us in the council a richer and more productive way of facing the demands and needs of our time,” said Father Alindogan.
As the newly named administrator of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, a priority task for Father Jason Parzynski was to form a new parish pastoral council with members reflecting a cross section of the entire community. The current council not only includes a young adult, Nick Cheniara, but Cheniara chairs the council.
“Part of this thought process was having the perspective of young adults to help the parish meet the needs of the next generation,” Father Parzynski said, recognizing that Cheniara has been actively engaged in his faith within the parish community since he was a child.
“This dedication to his faith and willingness to serve in a variety of capacities over the years is what gives me confidence in his ability to guide the PPC in discerning how we, as a parish community, can come together, serve one another as well as bring Christ to the greater community of West Windsor,” Father Parzynski said.
Nicholas Cheniara serves as chair of the parish pastoral council in St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction. Courtesy photo
“I think this is truly remarkable as Nicholas, along with many others of his generation, are stepping up to positions of leadership within the Church younger than prior generations often did,” Father Parzynski said. “This fosters hope in the Church's future, but also the parish community's commitment to fostering the faith in the next generation.”
Cheniara said he was pleased with the warm welcome he received from the parish in his new role.
“Being appointed PPC chair brings me real joy, because in and of itself (it) is a tremendous honor that I am grateful to serve,” he said. “Moreover, the PPC members are confident in my ability to facilitate our discussions as we provide practical advice to Father Jason based on our unique perspectives.”
Madison O’Neill, a young adult newcomer to the parish pastoral council at St. Veronica Parish, was surprised that her name “had come up” during a recent PPC meeting at which the current members discussed bringing new members to the table.
When a council member asked her to join, O’Neill said she excitedly responded that “I would love to be a part of that and I am forever grateful to be a part of it now.
“Although my family is Catholic and I have some Christian friends, I wanted to connect with people who shared the same faith as me, especially at church,” O’Neill said. “I prayed, and our awesome God answered. I hope that through the PPC, faith will spread.”
Fenimore said he has observed that parishes are very friendly and willing to have younger people involved in any facet.
“There’s usually no pressure or great commitment to general involvement, you can go at your own pace,” he said. “It is greatly fulfilling to know as a younger person that we are helping sustain the life of the faith just by getting involved.”