In 1935, Bishop Shiel of the Archdiocese of Chicago, founded the Catholic Youth Organization. He did so in an effort to keep young people from modeling themselves after Al Capone and other criminals.
On October 8, 1936, Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel appointed Fr. Sidney Skiffington as the director of the C.Y.O. for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Strong features in the programming during these early days were athletics and recreations. Numerous leagues, clinics, and tournaments were prominent.
As years passed, the CYO programs grew. Efforts were made to plan activities which dealt with spiritual, social, cultural and recreational needs of young people. Countless parishes participated in these activities. At one point, it has been estimated that over 50,000 teens were involved with CYO activities in a given year. They were involved in athletics, Disney trips, One Act Plays, retreats, workshops and more.
In 1981, the name of the archdiocesan office was expanded to CYO/Youth Ministry to reflect a broadening outreach to young people beyond athletics and recreation, as reflected in the U.S. bishops’ document, “A Vision of Youth Ministry,” published in 1976. Ministry in pastoral care, leadership development, and catechetics were added to the rich heritage of C.Y.O. In 1996, “Renewing the Vision” was published by the USCCB, with the goal of comprehensive youth ministry surrounding eight components. Office programming expanded to reflect that call. In 2004 the office named evolved further into CYO/Youth & Young Adult Ministry to accentuate outreach to and ministry with the young adult component of the church.
The wealth of the archdiocese organized outreach has been the devoted clergy and laity who have served as its staff members:
Rev. Sidney Skiffington (1936-1941)
Rev. Patrick Quinn (1941-1947)
Rev. Arthur Screen (1947-1966)
Rev. Franics Boeshans (1966-1970)
Rev. Andrew Taormina (1970-1972)
Rev. Henry Engelbrecht (1972-1975)
Rev. Patrick Keane (1975-1980)
Rev. Gary Ault (1980-1985)
Rev. Robert Massett (1985-1987)
Rev. Ronald L. Calkins (1987-1994)
Mr. Michael Patin (1994-2003)
Mr. John R. Smestad, Jr (2003-2015)
Ms. Megan Noll (2015-2016)
Mr. Joey Pistorius (2016-Present)
In addition to these directors, there are three other persons whose contributions have been crucial to the CYO/Youth Ministry Office. They are Ray Mock, the first full time athletic director, who served from 1943-1970; Matt Hill, who succeeded Mr. Mock, served from 1970 -1993; and Mrs. Dolores Bertrand, who served as staff secretary for 50 years, from 1941-1991. Their devotion has been a legacy which the current staff chooses to continue and build upon for the future.