Q&A with Craig Gould

Q&A with Craig Gould

Membership Type: Organizational Member

Organization and Position: Program Director of Notre Dame Vision for the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Maine in a Catholic family. After high school, I studied theology and education at Boston College while serving as a leader in the local Young Life area. After college, I moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where I spent 5 years working for Young Life and at my parish as a Pastoral Associate for Evangelization. After Alaska, I moved to Minnesota, where I became a Coordinator of Youth Ministry and completed my master’s degree in Systematic Theology. From there, I worked briefly at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago before taking the job of director of youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I spent 7 years in Baltimore before beginning work with the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame with the ND Vision high school program. Along the way, I married my wife of 17 years, and we have 8 children, ranging in age from 16 to 9 months.

Why ministry? Why do you do what you do?

First, I fell in love with Jesus and his call to conversion. Then, I fell in love with helping people fall in love with Jesus. Then I fell in love with helping those who were helping those, falling in love with Jesus. That was the process of me from disciple to lay evangelist to lay ecclesial minister. That’s why I’m in ministry; I have a calling to serve those who are serving.

Who accompanied you as a young person? What impact did they have on you that led you to where you are today?

My mom would have to be the first influence. She took us faithfully to Mass and taught CCD. Other than that, though, my house was not overtly faithful. My grandmother, on that side, had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, so from her, I learned the power of Mary. My other grandparents were devout Baptists; from them, I learned how to read and pray with the Scriptures. Really, though, the first person to really disciple me was my Young Life leader, Lyn Ford. She taught me how to have a devotional time and pray with Scripture. She showed me how to live my faith in the world. She eventually became my first boss when I went on Young Life staff out of college. She showed me what professional ministry looked like.

In college I had a mentor named Gro who taught me the real faithful work of relational ministry. I also had a married couple, the Papirio’s, who lived out a sacrificial call to ministry. They had four kids, were fundraising their own salaries, and still never wavered in their faith that the Lord would provide. Now, as a father of 8, I often think back to them and the way they modeled a true Sacrament for each other and the ministry. Finally, Fr Scott Medlock was my first parish boss. From him, I learned how to take care of people who work for you and how good leadership and administration were central to the gospel.

What is your relationship with NFCYM? How has being a member of NFCYM helped you and your ministry to young people?

Currently, I’m an organizational member of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame. It’s different being in this role, as I’ve also been a diocesan member when I worked for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and what are now called associate members back when I was a parish youth minister. My role now has grown into being on different project teams and offering what leadership I can to the church at large. That’s one of the gifts of being an organizational member with a national scope is that I am free to serve in that capacity for NFCYM.

I've been involved with NFCYM in three different ways. First, I was a youth minister in a parish. I joined NFCYM because I needed a community of people who helped me do the "things" of ministry. How to play a game, make a permission slip, and work with parents- as I was only in my early 20s and not yet a parent myself. But the other thing it did was give me a picture of what long-term ministry could look like for me. How do you make a career in ministry?

When I became a Diocesan Director, it gave me another network from which I could get ideas on how to support ministry leaders. I saw different examples of how people lived this out—in many different ways based on their diocese and Bishop. It helped me think of what kind of leader I was called to be. It also allowed me to invest in larger projects that worked toward a bigger vision and impact on young people. It allowed me to experience the universal Church at work.

Now, as an organizational member, my role is to take all I've learned in the first 20 years of my professional career in ministry and apply it directly to the work I do and help NFCYM think at the national level about what kind of projects could be taken on for the good of the larger Church. As my responsibilities have gone from local with the parish, regional with the diocese, and now national with Notre Dame Vision, NFCYM has been a good partner to accompany me along the way.

What does accompaniment mean to you, and how has NFCYM accompanied you?

The first posture of accompaniment is to care beyond yourself about the person you will walk with. I believe the heart of NFCYM is to care for the young church, and we share in that mission. ND Vision has a specific way of approaching that mission, and NFCYM has always been a place that would not only help us refine that way but also put us in contact, conversation, and companionship with other people who care as deeply as we do.

Events like Exchange, NCYC, and NDDI are all places where those friendships get formed. I could not imagine a ministry to the young Catholic Church in America without NFCYM. Just like I couldn’t imagine being where I am in ministry right now with NFCYM.

NFCYM members can ask me about…

  • Youth outreach and evangelization
  • Why theology matters for youth/young adult ministry
  • Partnership with Young Life Catholic Relations
  • Raising a family as a full time ministry leader

Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Go Celtics! Go Irish!

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Yazmín Maní Malone

Pastoral Juvenil Hispana Coordinator,
Diocese of Austin

Diocesan Member

"NFCYM has accompanied me in reaching out to like minded professionals to better provide service (ministry) to adolescents. NFCYM has allowed me to network and grow professionally.

'Youth as Protagonists' has been essential to Pastoral Juvenil Hispana in the Diocese of Austin."

Eva P. Delgado

Youth Minister, St. Christopher Church

Associate Member

"The various resources have helped me keep our program exciting and vibrant. NFCYM has provided me with shared information via webinars, workshops, conferences, outreach, and opportunities that are very informative to help make my ministry successful.

NFCYM is an open forum for me to seek material, guidance and support in keeping the youth ministry program successful."