COLUMBIA — Rhina Medina has been appointed associate for Hispanic youth ministry for the Diocese of Charleston.
Medina, a member of St. John Neumann Church, started work Sept. 14 and is part of the diocesan youth ministry office. She will help parishes organize activities for Hispanic youth and involve them more in their home churches and with other teens around the state. Medina said she is excited about the prospect.
“My goal is to let people around the diocese know what is going on with Hispanic youth ministry in the state,” she said in an interview with The Miscellany. “I want to help promote the light of the Gospel in the young people’s lives, and motivate them to be an active part of the faith.”
Working with young people is nothing new for the Columbia resident, who was employed by Blue Cross Blue Shield before joining the diocese. Since 2003, she has been a volunteer coordinator for Hispanic youth activities at St. John Neumann and other parishes.
The network includes groups from the following churches: St. John Neumann and Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia; Holy Family and St. Francis by the Sea on Hilton Head Island; St. John of the Cross in Batesburg-Leesville; Immaculate Conception in Goose Creek; Holy Spirit on Johns Island; St. William in Ward; Jesus Our Risen Savior in Spartanburg; Our Lady of Peace in North Augusta; St. Mark in Newberry; and St. James in Conway.
Medina was born in El Salvador and lived for many years in Panama, where her husband of 22 years, Rafael, was stationed with the U.S. Army. The Medinas moved to Columbia in 1992. They have two sons, Rafael, 18, and Andres, 17.
Medina said she has often volunteered in some way at the parishes where she belonged, through teaching Scripture studies and CCD classes, serving on parish committees or working with youth groups.
“For me, this new job is like a blessing, because I have been doing this type of work for years,” she said. “I would teach CCD classes up through confirmation, and I would be concerned about what happened to the youth after confirmation. Those are the years when they really need continued formation and fellowship.”
In recent years, Medina has involved the groups in the Midlands with volunteer work, including helping out at Oliver Gospel Mission, the Salvation Army and at area nursing homes. She has also helped organize Hispanic musicians and dancers, and planned special holiday dinners and events that bring students together from around the state.
In 2007, Medina was honored at the annual diocesan Hispanic celebration for her leadership in the community.
She said it is important to help build the faith of young Hispanic Catholics because many of them are dealing not only with the daily challenges of being a teenager, but also of living in a new country and culture. She would like to see more young people involved in the liturgy, acting as lectors, altar servers, singers and musicians.
“A few of our Hispanic youth were born here, but a lot are also migrants and immigrants,” she said. “The church is really a home for them. We want to teach them to live as disciples and motivate them to participate fully in their faith.”