Bob McCarty invited me into ministry… So blame him for my presence in the field, if you must. But enough about me.
At the end of this week, Bob will be packing out of the NFCYM offices and conclude an eighteen and a half year run as executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. He will tell you that it is not retirement but a recalibration. He will remind you that his last day, March 4, is also an instruction to March Forth.
And then he will likely tell you about the unspoken and mistreated woman disciple of the Lord… Annette. She was thrown off a fishing boat as they threw Annette from a boat. This will be followed by the disciples actually traveled around by car back in the days of Jesus as they were all in one Accord. Seriously, if I make a bad pun in front of my family, I get accused of making a “Bob joke.”
In his early twenties, Bob was running the Neumann Conference Center and Camp Nuemann for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Summer campers, Confirmation class retreatants, catholic high school retreatants, and many many more all benefited from Bob’s hospitality, leadership, and tutelage in matters of faith for many years. That’s not dozens or hundreds of kids… but thousands upon thousands. There was also the local Scout troop (Bob was an Eagle Scout and was paying it all forward), the local volunteer fire house (which was a family thing) and Operation Santa Clause (a Phillly CYO thing)
Bob’s next move was to Saint Francis Vocational School where he worked with legally assigned at-risk boys both as a teacher and as a group home parent. He presented at a National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry while his future wife Maggie was executive director of what would become the NFCYM. They didn’t exactly meet cute at that time, but it was the start of that history.
Bob then moved to the Archdiocese of Baltimore where he took up as a coordinator in the Office of Youth Ministry. He helped to advance along the High School Leadership Institute and other youth training programs, worked with at risk initiatives such as the Archdiocesan Response Team, the Genesis Player, and some important work with national implications regarding adolescent suicide. He also became involved regionally and nationally with the NFCYM… at one point serving as the chair of the board of directors.
Which brings us up to Bob and the NFCYM… and here are the differences made of his two decades of service.
- He started with implementing a new strategic plan for the organization, a position that has now come full circle for the NFCYM
- A collaborative relationship with Catholic Relief Services has taken many youth ministry leaders on international immersion experiences.
- Adolescent Catechesis has and continues to be a collaborative effort with other organizations through publication, symposiums, research, and training.
- Quick responses and resources became a norm within the changing times of Columbine, 9/11, Katrina, and Sandy Hook.
- Standards and accreditation were established for lay ecclesial ministers, establishing a more professional nature to the field.
- Ministry with young people in US military settings around the word became entry points in the NFCYM taking on more international leadership with collaborations with other countries and World Youth Days. WYD’s have probably offered many highlights, including animating catechetical session throughout the years, including one very special one in Denver.
- “Strong Catholic Families: Strong Catholic Youth” has provided training to encourage parents in their own primary ministry within the domestic church.
- And, none of that counts the New Diocesan Directors Institutes, the National Catholic Youth Conferences, the National Conferences on Catholic Youth Ministry, and the Institutes for Catholic Youth Ministry new youth ministers track.
So, thanks Bob. For your leadership, for your friendship, for the manner in which you have lived out your discipleship.
As you March Forth Friday into your recalibration, allow us to quote you as you have quoted Rubem Alves, a South American theologian
Hope is hearing the melody of the future,
faith is dancing to it today.
Keep on dancing, Bob.