By Jay Nies
A Tipton native is helping move the New Evangelization in new directions in an archdiocese with almost half a million Catholics.
Early this year, Matthew Reinkemeyer was appointed associate director of missionary outreach for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Office of Youth Evangelization and Discipleship.
In addition to offering support and ongoing formation for youth ministers throughout western and southwestern Ohio, he’s helping start a missionary initiative with a renewed emphasis on mentoring young people.
The goal is to recruit recent college graduates to be formed and trained for youth ministry and then have them serve in parishes in the archdiocese.
“We’re trying to have a homegrown program that targets parishes that have a desire for youth ministry but for whatever reason find themselves understaffed in that area,” he said.
These missionaries will add energy, joy and renewal to entire parishes while helping them minister to a group that’s too often underserved.
“My responsibility will then boil down to helping with the formation, placement and ongoing mentoring of these missionaries during their two-year commitment,” he said.
“Walk with me”
Mr. Reinkemeyer is a son of Deacon Bob and Lisa Reinkemeyer of St. Andrew parish in Tipton and a grandson of Hank and Betty Reinkemeyer of St. George parish in Linn.
He said he’s excited about growing in his relationship with God while helping others do the same.
“The mission statement for our office says that we seek the face of Christ in the life of the Catholic Church and bear witness, inviting youth to join us on the way,” he noted.
He sees that specifically pointing to his own need for Jesus.
“Jesus is not just some sort of commodity that I have that I’m going to give to another person,” said Mr. Reinkemeyer. “Rather, I’m seeking Him as well, and I believe He is found most intimately in the life and sacraments of the Catholic Church, and I want to give witness to what He has done in my life.”
That compels Mr. Reinkemeyer to invite youth, along with parents, fellow youth ministers and everyone else he meets “to come join me as I’m walking on this way.”
It started here
After graduating from St. Andrew School and Tipton High School and spending some time as a seminarian at Conception Seminary College, Mr. Reinkemeyer continued his studies at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
He graduated suma cum laude with a degree in theology in 2012.
He now lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Jennifer, who also holds a theology degree from Franciscan University.
They have two young children and are active in their parish.
He said he’s extremely grateful for the prayerful, spiritual family he grew up in; the Catholics who influenced him in New Melle and Tipton; and the people he got to know in priestly formation and while taking part in evangelization and youth-ministry programs in the Jefferson City diocese.
He said the seeds of his love for youth ministry were planted while he was serving on CHRISTpower retreats here.
“And I point to my time at Conception Seminary College and studying for the diocese as a seminarian as really edifying my love for the Church,” he said.
Those two things shaped the trajectory that led him to commit his life to youth ministry — first at the parish level and now at the archdiocesan level.
He started out serving for four years as a high school youth minister at St. Margaret of York Church in Loveland, Ohio, a large, active parish in a Cincinnati suburb.
Now he gets to help do many of the same things on a larger scale.
“Wherever they are”
Mr. Reinkemeyer is hopeful that the Church will regain its footing in drawing young people back into a lifelong relationship with Jesus.
“I see all of these new methods and new efforts pointing to accompaniment and discipleship, and how they’re lighting a fire in the Church,” he said.
He pointed out that young people who remain actively Catholic through college and beyond tend to have two things in common: parents who solidly and consistently put their faith into practice, and several other adults who invest time and effort in mentoring and encouraging them.
“When we talk about youth ministry, we’re really talking about relationships, about investing in young people and accompanying them as they grow in faith,” he said.
All of this makes sense to Mr. Reinkemeyer because of his own experience.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Church through my family and through the adult mentors I’ve had,” he said.
Nevertheless, he realizes that many young people come from situations that are broken and in need of healing.
“In every family, there’s always some element of brokenness, because we’re all fallen, we all sin,” he said.
“But God’s grace abounds all the more,” he said. “So yeah, I know some kids who come from difficult backgrounds, and I’ve been blessed to walk with them, and I’m very confident that God can meet them right where they are.
“We can totally meet them there, too, because the Church knows what true love is, because the Church knows Christ,” he said.
Mr. Reinkemeyer asks for continued prayers for help and guidance in launching the missionary initiative — “both in the logistics and behind-the-scenes aspects as well as preparing the hearts of the people being called to serve as missionaries, and the souls they’ll be sent to serve.”
Contributing to this article was Lisa Reinkemeyer in Tipton.