By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 4, 2015
SMYRNA—Damellys Sacriste recently began in her new role to facilitate parish outreach to young adults through the archdiocesan Office of Formation and Discipleship.
A native of Venezuela, Sacriste, 45, has previously served the multicultural community at St. Patrick Church, Norcross, as the director of faith formation. A certified master catechist of the Atlanta Archdiocese, she received a bachelor of arts in religion and religious studies from Saint Leo University. She has been a member of Prince of Peace Church, Flowery Branch, for the past 10 years. Sacriste has a grown daughter.
She recently answered questions from The Georgia Bulletin by email.
GB: What made you excited to work with people about issues of faith?
DS: I look back at the people who have influenced my faith throughout the years, and I am grateful for how they have contributed and added to and enriched my faith journey, so I hope that I might be able to do the same for others.
GB: What is your favorite verse from the Bible and why?
DS: Isaiah 43: 1.* I use it frequently to remind myself of my true identity as a daughter of God: created, formed, redeemed and called.
*(But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.)
GB: What have you done for fun this summer?
DS: We had a lot of family visit from different places, and that’s always fun—to have special meals, tell the stories (it’s curious how everyone remembers a different version), and strengthen the family bonds.
GB: What was your previous job?
DS: My last position was as the director of faith formation at St. Patrick Church in Norcross. St. Patrick is a vibrant multicultural community that welcomed and challenged me in ways that helped me grow in ministry, and for that I will always be grateful.
GB: What are your job responsibilities in your new position?
DS: In my new position, associate director of adult ministry, I support parish leaders in ministry with adults (ages 18+). In particular, I am a consultant at the service of parish young adult leaders and campus ministry leaders. I am also responsible for coordination efforts of young adult and campus ministry events that the diocese sponsors. As a consultant member of the Office of Formation and Discipleship team, I am available to pastors and their leaders to help assess needs, identify resources, and develop plans in support of adult ministry and campus ministry efforts.
GB: The Catholic Church is seeing a decline in members of the millennial generation. What would you say to 20-somethings who feel disconnected from the faith of their families and their younger selves?
DS: First, I would say that part of being in your 20s is to work out who you are: your identity, beliefs and values. Every life stage forces us to re-evaluate what we’ve done and what we would do differently. It’s the way we grow. And I believe it is the same with our faith. We practice and look at our own faith differently as we have experienced different circumstances. The faith of our youth or the faith of our parents may not speak to who we are or where we are in life anymore. But the most important part is to be committed to finding answers to what is holding us back. The challenge for our parishes today is to be there when people come looking for answers. We want to be not just truthful, but charitable in giving truth. One of the reasons Pope Francis is so appealing to young people is the way he can give us the Catholic message in the most loving way. We, as a Church, need to imitate this if we want to make, not just young people, but anyone want to inquire and fall in love with our Catholic faith.