Q&A with Maria "Cooky" Perez-Eraci
Membership Type: Associate Member
Organization and Position: Director of Youth Ministry at Parishes of Oak Park, IL
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My passion is working with those who connect the Gospel message with their work. My love for this work began with summer camps and teaching, where I was called to a youth ministry vocation. I have over 30 years of experience working in youth ministry. I live by the motto of “Todo es possible con Dios” (everything is possible with God). I hold, degrees, certifications, and training in extensive youth ministry training, theology, education, lay ministry, sports and recreation, and cultural diversity at institutions and programs. My greatest gift is being a wife and a mother.
How has being a member of NFCYM helped you and your ministry to young people?
It has made me a lifelong minister of young people, giving me the tools and spiritual support needed to minister to and advocate for the young church and their leaders. It also has given me lifelong friendships with the most amazing people.
What is your relationship with NFCYM? What does accompaniment mean to you? How has NFCYM accompanied you?
I have been involved and have had a relationship with NFCYM since the 80s, even before the word “accompaniment” had a church meaning; that is what the Federation was and is doing; they walk with each person they encounter and help that person know that Jesus is truly with them walking along their side.
Why ministry? Why do you do what you do?
It’s about relationships. Jesus was a relational person. He started one by one, then chose 12 who later, well, you know the story. The people I have met, the places I have been, and the things I have done are what I feel a calling to do, and they give me hope, strengthen my faith, and give me so much love.
If you could share one thing with other ministers, parents, families, and clergy, that you have learned throughout your experience ministering what would it be? It could be a moment, antidote, or words of wisdom:
To live and minister by example.
NFCYM members can ask me about…
Working through the difficult times when you know you are doing a GREAT job in ministry, and how to keep your faith and keep going.