By Mary Stone
The Diocese of Juneau will be welcoming a new Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry this fall – Ms. Heather Shaw. Heather follows previous youth minister, Jacob Coffman, who accepted a position earlier this year as Director of Student Activities at his alma mater, Belmont Abbey College, in North Carolina.
Heather brings with her a background of campus ministry with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), and experience living in Alaska. She was born in Juneau, but because her father was in the military, she moved around her whole life until finally returning to Juneau for her senior year of high school in 2010-11. At that point in her life, Heather says, she did not know God or have any idea of what a relationship with Jesus Christ looked like. It wasn’t until her second year of college that she met some influential young people her own age who were living a Christ-centered life, and who truly knew the joy of the Gospel. From that moment on, Heather shares, she knew that she would only find true joy in Jesus, and she started living her life for Him.
“He has been leading me down a crazy path ever since and I am so excited that this path has led me back to Juneau!”
While in college, Heather was very involved with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and was a student missionary on campus. She worked with other college students in a discipleship relationship, which included talking about faith and how to live a Christian life on a college campus, leading bible studies, and helping creating a community where college students could come together and worship God. For a while, Heather remembers, she thought she wanted to join FOCUS after college and work as a missionary on another college campus. However, after much discernment and prayer, she realized that God had put a desire on her heart to work with high school students instead.
“I think this desire stems from my own experiences in college, and seeing how much of an influence high school can make on a student’s faith life in college.”
When she was in high school, Heather recalls, she didn’t have anyone in her life who could show her what having a relationship with Jesus Christ looked like in this day and age, especially with all of the temptations and distractions that surround her generation.
“I hope that God can use me .. in any way to be a light or influence to someone who is struggling with the same things I was when I was in high school.”
Heather graduated this last May from Northern Arizona University with Bachelor’s degrees in both Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Photography.
A self-professed dog lover and an avid movie-goer, Heather also loves running, backpacking and kayaking. On the less adventurous end of the spectrum, she shares, she loves knitting, Sudoku puzzles, and stargazing.
“And I can always be won over by a good pun or an Elvis Presley song!”
Currently finishing out the summer working at a fishing lodge 300 miles from Dillingham in southwest Alaska, Heather says she’s excited to get started as the new Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Juneau. She’s looking forward to meeting the students and their families, and is ready to dive into it all and see how God wants to use her! The preparations for the diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow will be another big portion of her coming year, and she’s looking forward to that with enthusiasm as well.