Ex-DRE finds ‘perfect fit’ in youth ministry at KCK

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Jessica Cabral became director of ReachKCK on June 20. She was previously Director of Religious Education (DRE) at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. LEVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

by Moira Cullings
[email protected]

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Jessica Cabral has a gift for passing on the Catholic faith to the next generation.

It is a passion that has guided his career.

While serving as Director of Religious Education (DRE) at Blessed Sacrament Parish here, Cabral spent much of her time with Confirmation students.

His work inspired him to do more for the youth of Wyandotte County.

“Reading their letters which they must write to the Archbishop every year [requesting the sacrament of confirmation] broke my heart at times,” she said.

“They have such a deep desire to have a relationship with Jesus,” she said, “and [when] they are not able to achieve that, it breaks my heart.

She had to do more.

And she did. Cabral became the manager of ReachKCK on June 20.

“Having this opportunity at Reach and being able to work with [youth] helping them build this relationship with Jesus is what basically drove me to pursue this opportunity,” she said.

Jessica Cabral became director of ReachKCK on June 20. She looks forward to bringing young people closer to Christ. LEVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

ReachKCK, the youth outreach ministry of the Archdiocese of Wyandotte County, invites teens into a community of faith.

The ministry offers a plethora of opportunities, including monthly activities like Eucharistic Adoration and Luke 18 retreats.

Based at Blessed Sacrament Church, ReachKCK also provides a space where teens can spend time after school studying and learning activities like art and music – skills taught by local volunteers.

Accepting the position was a difficult decision for Cabral, who spent several years as the parish secretary of the Blessed Sacrament and ultimately its DRE.

But his desire to bring young people closer to Christ in a practical way won out.

Clockwise from left to right, Ezequiel, Jessica Cabral, Maria and Aiden pose for a photo with Aiden, who celebrated his first communion. COURTESY PHOTO

Born in Mexico, Cabral moved to the United States with her family at age 6 and grew up in Wyandotte County, where she began volunteering with the Archdiocese’s Hispanic Ministry at age 16 years old.

While working at Blessed Sacrament, where Cabral still serves as a parishioner, she witnessed an increase in the number of Central American immigrant families in Kansas City.

She believes her own experiences will help her connect with young people who come to ReachKCK.

She wants to let them know “that God loves them”.

Vicente, Lucero, Jessica Cabral and Natalia pose for a selfie on Fe y Vida, a national show that talks about the reality of Hispanic youth in the United States. COURTESY PHOTO

Deacon Dana Nearmyer, director of the office of evangelism, described Cabral as “the perfect fit” for ReachKCK.

“Many priests submitted endorsements for her to be considered for the position because of the positive experience working with her,” he said.

Deacon Nearmyer also expressed the importance of Catholic youth ministry in Wyandotte County, where parishes have many young people but few staff to support them.

“ReachKCK helps coordinate parish staff and volunteers who work with youth to build networks, open up regional and national opportunities like the March for Life, build a bridge to local offerings like Camp Tekakwitha, and provide lifelong learning experiences. world-class training close to home,” he said.

Jessica Cabral proclaims a reading at the First Communion Mass of the Blessed Sacrament in 2020. PHOTOS BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Father Mark Mertes, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Kansas City, Kansas, and moderator of the curia, expressed his enthusiasm for Cabral, with whom he worked for many years at Blessed Sacrament.

“Jessica knows personally and culturally the challenges faced by many KCK youths,” he said. “She understands the needs of KCK’s immigrant population and is also a wonderful friend to established parish members.

“She has a pleasant disposition which is combined with a high level of written and spoken proficiency – both in English and Spanish. This will be a great asset to her ministry.

Father Mertes also highlighted ReachKCK’s ability to connect with the younger generation.

“Conversions happen one relationship at a time,” he said, “and ReachKCK’s vision is to create this community where urban teens can encounter Christ.”

He believes the Archdiocese’s commitment to supporting the ministry is a testament to young people in urban settings, where ‘progress seems to come slowly’, and that the ministry can also save young lives by providing a ‘nurturing community’ .

Jessica Cabral thinks it’s important to counter what society pushes on families. She hopes to bring young people closer to God. LEVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Cabral emphasized how critical ReachKCK’s mission is, especially at a time when “society is attacking family values ​​and our values ​​as Catholics so strongly.”

“Offering a haven of peace to [youth] being able to express your faith, live your faith and learn more about your faith is something crucial,” she added.

Cabral is eager to immerse himself in his work and hopes to make a strong impact.

“I’m just so excited and can’t wait to be able to share the love that I know God has for every single person,” she said.

Those interested in volunteering at ReachKCK are encouraged to email: [email protected] or call (913) 449-1420.

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