The Vancouver Archdiocese's Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry has welcomed former Edmontonian Erwin Fung as its new consultant for youth ministry.
"He is confident, competent, and a good communicator," said Clayton Imoo, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adults Ministry. "He has four main duties, and I expect him to work hard, take ownership of his position, and excite people with the ministry."
With 15 years of parish and diocesan work behind him, Fung brings a lot of experience to his new role. He will train and support youth ministry leaders in the diocese to help strengthen teenagers' faith through several youth events.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Fung was active in his church community early on, working as a volunteer at Mary Help of Christians Chinese Catholic Parish.
Fung, who has a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Alberta, believes his knowledge of human development enables him to understand how youth learn.
"I have a sense of the comprehensive model of youth ministry," he noted, adding that it's not one-dimensional; it extends from the parish to the teenager's home, school and community life.
While his knowledge of psychology is definitely an asset to his job, Fung attributes his success in the Catholic community to Edmonton's associate director of evangelization, Andrew Papenbrock.
Fung said Papenbrock encouraged his involvement in the ministry, showing him that youth evangelization is "more than just youth group or fun school."
Most especially, Papenbrock taught him that "your faith needs to be your life and your life needs to be your faith."
Fung has been busy since he began work in Vancouver in April. He helped organize a successful youth rally, and he's helping to organize Searching in the Spirit (a post-Confirmation event for Grade 7s) and Youth Leader (a summer camp for leadership training for those entering Grade 10.)
"How can I reach out to all of them in a timely manner?" Fung asked about the 76 parishes in the diocese. With a quick response, Fung thought up Team Catechesis, a new task force which will help develop and assess youth programs across the diocese.
Fung suggested that social media offers ways to reach out and bring teenagers closer to God. "The other great thing is the fact that the pope tweets. If the pope posts something and I retweet it, it goes viral."
Social websites, he added, can be used to nurture faith, further extending the ministry's influence to even the virtual aspects of a kid's life.
Fung is not intimidated by his change of surroundings. "I'm open to hear what the people need in the diocese," he said. "I just want to be able to do God's will."
Imoo said, "I want to thank him for making the leap of faith to move to a new city and minister to and with the young people of this archdiocese.
"Despite his poor choice of hockey team (Fung is an Oilers fan), I am looking forward to working with him for years to come."