National Catholic Youth Ministry Awards

About the National Awards

Through its National Catholic Youth Ministry Awards, NFCYM seeks to recognize innovative people, organizations, and programs that empower, equip, and accompany young people as they navigate the path of growing into missionary discipleship.

The four award categories endeavor to acknowledge the contributions of dioceses, apostolates, individuals, organizations, programs, and parishes in pioneering approaches that

  • embrace acompañamiento
  • are inclusive of the diversity and gifts of the young church
  • identify exceptional methods and outreach that bridge the gap between the Church and young people, especially those who are so often overlooked, (i.e., socio-economic, culturally diverse, varying languages, special needs, and geographical realities)
Nominees must have experience in the ministry for which they are nominated for a minimum of five years. 

Award Categories

The Saint Katharine Drexel Pathway Award

For a diocesan level initiative or innovator who:
• Inspires others by their efforts to support and strengthen those whom Christ leads
• Collaborates at the diocesan level to illuminate the path of Christ in ministry outreach with young people
• Advocate a comprehensive approach to ministry with young people
• Promotes cooperative engagement with one or more diocese(s) that foster the values of the NFCYM in the above-mentioned areas

The Saint John Bosco Accompaniment Award

For an individual, apostolate, or organization working on the regional or national level that:
• Promotes innovative accompaniment, which embraces the Gospel and the mission of the NFCYM
• Inspires others through their efforts to support and strengthen the faithful accompanying young people
• Collaborates with others at the national/regional level to illuminate the necessity of accompaniment in ministry outreach with young people
• Advocates a comprehensive approach of ministry with young people
• Promotes the necessity of encountering and following Jesus Christ

The Saint John Paul II Parish Leadership Award

For a parish level ministry leader or team who:
• Inspires parishioners to mobilize outreach beyond the doors of the Church by developing authentic welcome and promoting acompañamiento
• Collaborates with parishioners and staff to encourage efforts that support and strengthen young people in their daily encounter with Jesus Christ
• Advocates a comprehensive approach to ministry with young people
• Promotes witness through the sacramental life that connects young people to the wider Church: diocesan, national, or international encounters

The Saints Joachim and Anne Cross Award

For a family ministry or outreach initiative that:
• Supports the gifts and challenges found in the sacrifices and joys of the domestic church
• Inspires families through their efforts to support and strengthen young people as they encounter and follow Jesus Christ
• Collaborates to illuminate the gift of family life, seeking guidance from dioceses, apostolates, or church organizations
• Advocates for the domestic church by partnering with parents and equipping families
• Promotes cooperative engagement with other families that foster the mission and vision of the NFCYM

2021 Award Nomination Process

  1. Complete the online nomination form and two letters of recommendation, all of which must be submitted no later than July 15 for the nomination to be considered. Ideally, recommendation letters are uploaded as part of the nomination form but may be emailed or mailed, if necessary.
    – For email, please include the nominee’s name in the subject line and send to [email protected].
    – For posted mail, please include the nominee’s name on the back of the envelope and mail to NFCYM,
    ATTN: NCYM Awards (Insert Nominee’s Name), 415 Michigan Ave NE Ste 40, Washington DC 20017.
  2. Nominees should be nominated once and in a single award category. (i.e. Do not submit the same nominee in multiple categories.) The Ad Hoc Committee reserves the right to adjust nomination categories as needed.
  3. Nominations must come from a third party (i.e. Nominees may not nominate themselves). Members of the NFCYM Board of Directors, Awards Ad Hoc Committee, and staff may not nominate, be nominated, or provide letters of recommendation for nominees.
  4. Nominees must have been in ministry (or operational) for a minimum of five years to be considered for an award.
  5. Nominations can come from an individual, region, and/or a group. Nominations from regions or groups must include the name and email address of a single contact person in case the committee has clarifying questions.
  6. To assist the committee in its review, nominators should be as thorough as possible in responding to questions. Please, however, only respond to the questions included on the form.

Questions about the awards or awards process can be directed to Darius Villalobos at [email protected].

Award recipients (and nominators) will receive written notification on or before September 30. Awards will be conferred in conjunction with the NFCYM Annual Membership Meeting in February.

2020 Award Recipients

Recipients of the 2020 awards were recognized at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, February 3.

2021 Award Recipients

The Saint Katharine Drexel Pathway Award

Claire McManus

Claire has been a tireless proponent of Comprehensive Youth Ministry. Her devotion and faithfulness to completing the duties entailed give profound insight into the depth of her love for the Lord and the Church. – Louise “Duce” Dussault

Robert (Bob) Perron

Bob’s blend of humor, storytelling, and education has made him a highly sought-after speaker. Bob’s presentations leave his audiences laughing, smiling, deeply thinking, and perhaps even shedding a tear or two. His excitement, enthusiasm, and love have motivated and inspired thousands of young people and adults. Bob has been involved in ministry to young people and adults since 1984. He has served as a parish youth minister, parish director of religious education, camp director and diocesan youth director. Bob is now blessed to be the Executive Director of the JMJ Pregnancy Center in Orlando, Florida where he gets to help moms and save babies for a living. Bob has spoken at hundreds of diocesan youth conferences and parish missions in over 47 states along with several countries. He has been the MC at the National Mass and Rally for Life in Washington, DC, was keynote at the Los Angeles Congress youth day and was a keynote presenter at NCYC 2014 in Indianapolis.

The Saint John Paul II Parish Leadership Award

Pat Sprankle

Dr. Patrick Sprankle (Pat), husband, father and grandfather (Poppa), is currently Director of Youth Ministry at St. Louis Church Clarksville, MD. He has served two parishes over a 37 year span and has extensive experience with middle and high school young people and young adults. Pat graduated from Graduate Theological Foundation with a doctorate in Ministry (2007) and holds a Master’s in Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University (1995). Pat has written "Crawling in the Dark: Searching for the Light" a guide for those youth and young adults who are experiencing 'doubting faith.' Pat has also led retreats and spoken at youth and young adult conferences locally to over 70 churches and schools. He has given presentations nationally in 9 states

Amy Nash

Amy Nash has served in youth ministry for 20 years, most of which has been within the parish she grew up in. She began her ministry work in missions, running sports camps for children in Central Asia, directing Christian outreach camps for youth across Southeast Alaska, coaching and running retreats for teens in the Seattle area. After interning in youth ministry and entering into parish youth ministry work, the Lord called her to full time missionary work in Alaska. She traveled the inside passageway, running retreats, helping youth connect into churches, and empowering local leadership. She helped communities implement youth ministry programs & trained local leadership to walk with youth. She and her husband moved back to Seattle to continue the mission of encouraging young people to grow in their Catholic faith. In 2017, after much suffering, her husband died from cancer and she too journeyed through cancer treatments. Together they offered their suffering for the spiritual growth of the youth community they served at St. Luke Parish and throughout the greater Seattle area. She and her children continue this mission and have experienced much fruit in ministry through retreats, outreach to the poor, working to bridge kids deeper into parish life, and mentoring leaders to spiritually journey with young hearts.

The Saint John Bosco Accompaniment Award

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Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary

The Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. and its Ladies Auxiliary is the largest historically African-American Catholic lay organization in the United States. The Order is named for St. Peter Claver, the Spanish priest who ministered to African slaves. The Order was founded in Mobile, Alabama and is presently headquartered in New Orleans. Their purpose is to render service to God and His Holy Church, render aid and assistance to the sick and disabled, and promote social and intellectual association among its members.

Dr. Juan Carlos Montenegro

Dr. JC Montenegro is a Coordinator of Youth Ministry with twenty years of experience working with the Salesians of Don Bosco in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. Dominic Savio Church. JC holds a master's degree in Youth Ministry Studies from the Salesian University in Ecuador, and he is responsible for empowering and evangelizing young people in his community. JC's major accomplishments as youth minister are restructuring and strengthening the parish summer camp program that serves over 200 teen volunteers and 300 children every summer. JC also started the We Care Afterschool Program that serves children from the public school system at the parish grounds; in this program, 70 children are served every day.

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Deacon Jerry White

Deacon Jerry White has been involved in youth ministry for over 35 years. He began his ministry serving as a member of the National Evangelization Team, then as a parish youth minister in San Antonio, TX. He served as the Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry in Erie, Pennsylvania, before moving to the Diocese of Charleston, SC, where he has served for 24 years. Today, Deacon Jerry is the Diocesan Director of Youth, College Campus Ministry and Young Adults for the diocese. Deacon Jerry recently finished four years of service on the NFCYM Board of Directors, during which he served two years on the executive committee and as treasurer. Deacon Jerry was ordained to the diaconate in Feb. 2017. In Jan. 2018, Pope Francis bestowed the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award to Deacon Jerry for distinguish service to the church.

Jim Beckman

Jim Beckman serves as the Executive Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He has been involved with Diocesan and parish ministry, evangelization and leadership development for many years. A graduate of Franciscan University and the Augustine Institute, Jim has served in various roles of leadership for national, regional and local ministry. He is a dynamic and passionate speaker and has a great love for the Church. He has built solid and thriving ministry programs in numerous parishes and Dioceses over the years. Jim also is the Executive Director of ImpactCenter, a non-profit dedicated to leadership development in the Catholic Church and serves as an adjunct professor for the Augustine Institute, teaching on topics of leadership, evangelization and discipleship. He and his wife, Meg, live in Oklahoma City with their five children.

The Saint Katharine Drexel Pathway Award

Encuentros Juveniles

Encuentros Juveniles is a youth movement of the Archdiocese of Miami founded in 1973 and dedicated to the evangelization of young people.

Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, ACSJ

Sr. Mary Grace is president of Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, a college preparatory school for young women founded and run by her community, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

The Saint John Bosco Accompaniment Award

DR. PATRICK DONOVANDiocese of Bridgeport

Dr. Patrick Donovan

Patrick is the founding executive director of The Leadership Institute of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Rob Kaczmark

Mr. Rob Kaczmark

Rob is the founder of Spirit Juice Studios, an award-winning creative production firm specializing in the transformative power of high quality visual media.

Dr. Alan Tarlo, Sr.

Alan is the chairman of the National Catholic Committe on Scouting (Boy Scouts of Ameria) for the Archdiocese of Detroit in Region 6.

The Saint John Paul II Parish Leadership Award

Helen Megally

Ms. Helen Megally

Helen is the director of youth ministry for Mary Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois.

The Saints Joachim and Anne Cross Award

Ms. Kim McMillan

Kim is the director of youth ministry for St. Benedict Parish in Chicago, Illinois.

Other Adult Awards

Companions on the Journey Award

Companions on the Journey Acrylic Plaque (Contact Local Diocese for Award)

Highest recognition from the NFCYM for a diocese to confer to adults working in youth ministry.

This award is password protected and must be purchased by a representative of your local diocese. Please contact your diocese for more information.

Light of the World Recognition

Light of the World, Adult Recognition Pin (parish/school award for adults)

This pin is presented to adults in a parish and/or school setting as an expression of appreciation and gratitude.

Watch the Ceremony Live