Youth award winner ‘has a servant heart’

Categories: Around the Diocese

Sam Manning of Christ Our Light Parish says he wants to honor God ‘by giving him everything I can’

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor

It is often said that youth are the present and the future of the church.

So when it came to building the sister parish relationship between Christ Our Light Parish in Princeton and Zimmerman and St. Mary Parish in Red Lake, Minn., Sam Manning suggested involving youth.

“They were talking about getting together with the adults, and I thought, ‘Why don’t we kids meet with the kids?’ ” said Manning, an 18-year-old member of Christ Our Light.


Sam Manning, recipient of the St. Timothy Youth Award.

Manning calls the youth program, which is now in its third year, “50/50” — emphasizing that the two groups give and learn from each other.

Youth from Christ Our Light led a Triduum retreat at St. Mary’s Mission School in Red Lake for the elementary students in 2013 and 2014. Manning hopes to expand the program this year to include summer activities.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the youth there and us,” he said. “To build a relationship, you need to be repetitive and consistent.”

Manning received this year’s St. Timothy Award at the St. Cloud Diocese’s Senior High Youth Rally Oct. 26 at St. John’s University in Collegeville. The award is the highest recognition from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry that a diocese can confer to a youth for outstanding leadership and service.

Helping others

Manning is a home-schooled high school senior attending post-secondary classes at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids with the hope of becoming a teacher. He began 50/50 as a project for the Youth in Theology and Ministry program that he participated in at St. John’s in Collegeville. YTM is designed to engage high school youth in theological study, service, justice, prayer and vocational discernment.

In addition to the 50/50 program, he spent last summer on the Native American reservation in Red Lake helping mission and youth groups with activities and organizing the summer school program.

At his parish, he helps with children’s Liturgy of the Word and vacation Bible school. He also is involved with lectoring, cantoring, choir, bell choir and serving at Mass.

“I love making kids happy,” he said. “I like to pass on as much positive knowledge as I can to them to help steer them in the direction they choose with the right tools.”

“He has a servant heart,” said Jenny Adams, coordinator of youth ministry and confirmation at Christ Our Light. “He is a very positive, motivated young person and sets a wonderful example.”

Manning also has benefited from the example of others. His dad, Pat, is past chair of the parish council and involved in liturgical ministries. His mom, Stacy, is a cantor and helps with many programs in the church. And, his brothers help with liturgical ministries, while his sisters assist with the parish nursery and vacation Bible school.

Manning said his involvement in the church started with promptings from his mom, but once involved, he found he really enjoyed it.

“You start wanting to be involved because it feels good to help others and eventually it becomes a part of you because it’s what God calls you to do,” he said. “When I do something for the church, it empowers me.”

God has a plan

He said his faith helps him because he knows God has a plan and is always working miracles.

“Even when times get tough, he has this plan and he’s working those miracles when you need him most,” he said. “I want to honor him by giving him everything I can.”

Next fall, Manning plans to transfer to St. John’s University to continue pursuing a teaching degree. He plans to stay involved with the 50/50 program and assist at Christ Our Light when possible.