Michal Horace said the “Road to Emmaus” Bible story comes to mind when he considers his approach to leading the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Youth and Young Adults.
Horace was named the director of that office in May.
He said the story — where Jesus encounters two of his disciples traveling to Emmaus, walks with them and listens to them — is an analogy of how best to work with young people.
It’s a “great model for us to remember — to walk with young people instead of telling them” what they need to be doing, Horace said during a recent interview. “I hope my office will model that listening and accompaniment.”
Since arriving in the archdiocese in May, Horace said he’s mostly been listening.
“Dr. Brian Reynolds (chancellor of the archdiocese) and the archbishop want me to do a time out and spend time working with parishes and schools to find out what they need,” Horace said.
“This is a really good time to listen to people, hear their stories and situations and determine how the archdiocese can best assist them in their ministry,” he said.
He’s asking “ ‘What’s the hardest part and the best part of your ministry? How can we help and how can we stay out of your way?’ ”
Horace said he feels as if the “Holy Spirit is in the mix of all this reminding us to work together and to journey together.”
The St. Louis native has served in youth ministry for three decades and most recently served as the director of the Young Adult Initiative at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind.
But youth ministry is far from where he began.
Horace worked as an aerospace engineer early in his career before going full-time into ministry, he said. While working in rocket science, he did youth ministry part-time.
Eventually, “God knocked me in the head and said I should consider doing the ministry full-time,” Horace said with a laugh.
Though he’s still an aviation enthusiast, he’s certain now that youth ministry is his true calling, he said. “I learned so much taking the long way around — things that have reaped rewards over and over again.”
Horace has served in parish ministry in St. Louis, his hometown. He later served for 17 years in the Office of Youth and Young Adults in Portland, Ore. He holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from the University of Portland.
Horace is the only person on staff in the Office of Youth and Young Adults for the time being. He noted that following this period of listening, he will have a better idea of the office’s staffing needs.
While some individuals are called to make youth ministry their life’s work, he said, every Catholic, by their baptismal call, is a youth minister.
“I want people to know the role they play in praying for young people, greeting them, making sure they know they’re seen,” he said.
Horace added that he’s excited and honored to serve in the historic Archdiocese of Louisville.