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Jul 25, 2017 | Paulette E. Martin

National Gathering Carves Path for San Mateo Youth Leaders

From left to right: Wilson Ramirez, Marcia Quintanilla, Luz Montes, Anthony Rodriguez, Heriberto Basabe from San Mateo, Bellaire

For many, the triennial Episcopal Youth Event is a pathway for church leaders to strengthen their faith; but for some San Mateo youth leaders, EYE has helped them discern a path for their future.

Thirteen hundred youth from 90 of the Episcopal Church’s 109 dioceses attended the 13th annual EYE17 from July 10-14 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. This year’s theme was “Path to Peace.”

Luz Montes, one of two youth and three adults from San Mateo to attend this year recalls her first experience at EYE in 2005.

“It was an eye opener for me. It had a such a huge impact that created the desire to be more active in San Mateo,” Montes said. This time around, Montes served as a chaperone.

She has been a member of San Mateo, Bellaire for more than 15 years and has been involved in youth ministry. Now, she will be begin classes at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin this fall to become a priest.

“I have found my calling,” Montes said after recounting her experiences from the events she has been able to attend in the past. Although youth ministry will always have a special place in her heart, she would like to work with the bilingual community once she is ordained.

This summer’s event was the first time Anthony Rodriguez and Wilson Ramirez attended EYE17. Both are high school juniors and have attended San Mateo for more than half of their lives.

“I didn’t expect to see so much diversity from the church, so it was amazing to see many youth from different countries from around the world,” Ramirez said. He has served as an acolyte at San Mateo since he was nine. He said EYE17 was motivating and helped boost his confidence.

One of the highlights for Ramirez, who also attended for the first time, was when he heard the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry say, “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, bi, brown or black—any Episcopal church will help you for who you are.”

“I am not the most social person, but when I heard Bishop Curry say that, I thought to myself, so it doesn’t matter if I am shy or socially awkward, the youth will accept me for who I am,” Ramirez said.

The message of love and acceptance at EYE17 also resonated with Rodriguez.

“The workshops about self-love were great. I want to try to help other people to learn to love themselves and get along with others,” Rodriguez said.

Marcia Quintanilla, San Mateo’s Youth Ministry Director, felt the same energy and excitement at EYE17. It was her first time to attend and she served on the pastoral team.

“EYE17 allowed the youth from San Mateo to really see how big and diverse the Episcopal Church really is. They got to learn more about what the Church does and how it is involved in politics and issues that affect people on an everyday basis,” Quintanilla said.

Attending EYE17 required a lot of hard work and effort. The youth raised their funding through car washes and by selling food made by the teen’s parents.

Quintanilla agrees that EYE17 gave San Mateo youth leaders the tools they were looking for to perform better ministry work in and outside the church.

“I have a nine-year-old and I can’t wait for her to go to EYE and experience it,” Quintanilla said.