THANK YOU, Patrick!

Patrick Villa is leaving his position as the youth minister at St. James at the end of this month. His open letter of gratitude to the community…

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. (St. Thomas Merton)

St. James-St. Leo community, you have been God’s love to me over the past 14 years. And words cannot fully express my gratitude for how the love of this community has been everything in my life.

While my time serving you and your families as the youth minister is ending, what will remain as I leave is gratitude for all the people that have helped me grow in holiness.

Thank you Msgr. Purcell, Msgr. Duncanson (who hired me), Fr. Timone, Fr. Tam, Fr. John, Fr. Gerard and all the Eudist fathers for your vocation and bringing Jesus to me and to the Church in the sacraments, especially to our teens who’s first desire is intimacy with the living God.

Thank you to Deacons Ted Bear, John Brice, Jack Gallagher, Al Graff, Joe Santen and Peter Hodsdon for your wise and encouraging words to me over the years.

Thank you to the committed and talented parish staff past and present – particularly Gail Jilka, Debbie Derderian and Amy Martinez – for sharing the Gospel mission…and being patient with me.

Thank you to principals Donna Kruszona, Kathy Dunn, Christine Lang and all the incredible teachers and staff of St. James Academy for letting me be a part of your great work in forming the hearts, souls and minds of the students at our parish school.

Thank you to former youth ministers Ann Marie Moznette, Mark Maxwell and Gloria and Abel Castellanos for inspiring and sharing my passion for youth ministry. Thank you to Evangely Ward for accepting the call to continue this great tradition in the parish.

Thank you to all the St. Leo’s teens and families for modeling such wonderful humility and trust…and for enduring my poor attempts at speaking Spanish to you.

Thank you to Anne Marie Oldham for partnering with me to open the doors for teens to worship with reckless abandon at Holy Mass, the foundation of the Christian life and the youth ministry at St. James.

Thank you to Joan Bear, Ray Greene, Ray Kieffer, Kathleen Vernon, Cheryl and Jack Williams, and Eileen Filler for supporting my ministry in this life…and in the beauty of the eternal life that you all now enjoy!

Thank you to Martha McRoskey for always reminding me to lead teens closer to Jesus in the Eucharist and through the Blessed Mother Mary. Dear Martha, how awesome that you now get to be in God’s unveiled presence forever!!! Pray for us while you’re with Him!

Thank you to the countless families in this parish for inviting me into your lives, for praying with me and for me, for being generous with me and the youth ministry in time and in treasure, and, of course, for feeding me. I wish I could name all of you here, but you all will remain in my heart.

Thank you to all of incredible adults over the years who have joined me in accompanying the beautiful young souls that Our Lord entrusted to our care. This ministry would never have become a vehicle by which teens could encounter Jesus without your kindness and love. Please know the fruit of your dedication and labor Is paying off. Thank you to Robert Baumgart, Stefi Vidaurri, Darryl Wilson and Matt Magnaghi for your loyalty, your faith, your joy and your selflessness.

Finally, to the youth ministry family scattered all around the world…Love will hold us together…today and tomorrow.

In my prayers always,