Bishop Kettler recognizes winners of YAYA awards

Winner Alaina Laing gets ready to bowl. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

In the 12 months leading up to the 2018 Synod of Bishops “on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” which began Oct. 3 in Vatican City and will conclude Oct. 28, The Visitor recognized youth and young adults from across the diocese through its Youth and Young Adult Awards program.

Readers were encouraged to nominate individuals or couples between the ages of 15-39 who are enthusiastic about their Catholic faith and who set a good example for their peers.

Each month, The Visitor featured one winner, who was selected by a nomination committee. The winners and their parishes were:

  • Jarett Edwards, St. Anne, Kimball
  • Paula Johnson, Sacred Heart, Glenwood
  • Alaina Laing, St. Benedict, Avon
  • Gladys Gutierrez, St. Joseph, Waite Park
  • Jared Conzemius, Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge
  • Hannah Salfer, Christ Church Newman Center, St. Cloud
  • Michelle and Jamie Litke, St. Joseph, Pierz
  • Micah Fleck, St. Elizabeth, Brennyville
  • Chantelle Frie, St. Mary, Upsala
  • Michael Haney, St. Anthony, St. Cloud
  • Nikki Walz and Tricia Walz, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud
  • Matt Herzog, St. Francis, Elmdale
Lance Litke, son of YAYA winners Michelle and Jamie Litke, waits his turn to bowl during the event, which also included fellowship and a pizza dinner. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

To read more about each of the winners, visit; click on “Special Sections,” then click on “YAYA Awards.”

On Oct. 4, Bishop Donald Kettler invited the winners for an evening of recognition, fun and fellowship, which included pizza and bowling.

“It was a great privilege for me to spend time with these folks,” Bishop Kettler said. “We are so blessed in our diocese to have such a wealth of young people who are committed to their Catholic faith and who are continuing to build God’s kingdom in their families, in their churches and schools and in the world.”

Bishop Donald Kettler and YAYA winner Michael Haney with daughter Mariana Clare, watch others on their team bowl Oct. 4 during a YAYA recognition event at Southway Bowl. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

He urged the youth and young adults to “not get tired.”

“Keep doing what you are doing, keep trying new things, keep trying to let your voices be heard,” he told them. “You are not the future of the church. You are the church right now and we need you.”

In addition to the monthly winners, The Visitor would like to congratulate all those who were nominated. Below is a list of their names and parishes.

Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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