By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Connecting young Catholics with their faith, their peers and the wider community through intentional prayer, accountability and support will be the focus of West Giffin, the new associate director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

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West Giffin

 

Giffin previously served as youth program coordinator for the Youth and Young Adult ministry program.  

“West has played a significant role in the renewal of our diocesan resources through key events, retreats, missions, workshops and presentations for our youth, young adults, parents and those who serve throughout the diocese,” said Dina Dow, director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “His experience as a youth minister, together with his passion for the Gospel message, compliments the essential mission of the church’s ministry in forming intentional disciples. We are blessed to have West in this role.”  

Giffin, who was raised in the Shenandoah area of Baton Rouge, graduated from LSU in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in administration.  “I really had a fun job in college,” said Griffin. “I worked with the LSU football department. I worked for (former) coach Les Miles quite a bit as one of his student workers. It was very eye opening.”  

Giffin had several game-day responsibilities, which “didn’t leave much time for tailgating.”  

From there, Giffin went on to serve a six-month internship with the New Orleans Saints corporate sponsorship department.  

Through his experiences in athletic administration, Giffin said he learned a lot about what it takes to plan an event.  

“I was completely blown away with the amount of manpower (staff and volunteers), effort, time and resources to make one football game operate,” said Giffin.  

“It was a very educational experience how to operate at a professional and fast pace,” added Griffin, who said he “learned how to roll with the punches.”  

After graduating, Giffin entered the working world and volunteered in different ministries. In 2014 he learned about the need to create a youth ministry at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Baton Rouge and was part of a volunteer team establishing a youth ministry program at MBS.  

He initially worked part-time as the youth ministry director and part-time assistant athletics director for MBS School. He later became full-time director of youth ministry.  

Giffin said his call to youth ministry began in the summer of his eighth-grade year at St. George Church in Baton Rouge. He attended youth conferences, retreats and other events.  

Alongside that, as a youth he enjoyed camping and going hiking.  

“Those kind of events developed in me a certain level of openness to God in the beauty and serenity of nature,” said Giffin.  

“Even before I served at Most Blessed Sacrament I was called to come back and to share,” said Giffin. “That developed a passion of what I do in serving in youth ministry.”  

His service at MBS inspired him to serve at the diocesan level. He said his call to deepen his involvement in youth ministry also deepened his call to continue his education. He is pursuing a master’s degree in pastoral leadership at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He likewise encourages youth to have a lifelong love of learning about their faith.  

Giffin finds that the youth he has been working with are intuitive, perceptive and intelligent.  

“I’ve seen them rise to the occasion any time they get that opportunity,” said Giffin.  

He noted during the flood of 2016 youth responded to the call to gut houses and other types of volunteer relief efforts.  

Giffin said he accepts the transition to associate director with excitement and humility.  

“I know very well that ministry is not performed inside of a vacuum, and I am so overjoyed to be working alongside the many rock stars who serve our youth at our many parishes and schools,” Giffin said.  

He emphasized the call to bring the encounter of love and truth of Jesus to young people is as important now as it has ever been.  

“Now is the time for us as the church to accept that challenge and strive towards bringing our young people into the fullness of grace that Christ desires for them through our action and example,” Giffin.  

His goal is to provide as much support as he can to the youth ministers, educators and catechists to equip them with the tools and encouragement they need to fulfill their own personal calls.  

Giffin and wife, Lauren, have a son, Mason, 16 months old. Being a father has crystalized Giffin’s view of the type of youth ministry that he would like his son to be involved in one day that would encourage, support and challenge him to live to his fullest potential. 

 “The world I would like to see for Mason is one that, first, is a place where inclusive relationships are developed with other people in a positive community and, second, a place where he can have an encounter and become a disciple of Christ,” said Giffin.