Catholic Herald staff
When Chris Hurtubise reflects on the beauty of the church’s teachings, the Diocese of Superior’s new associate director of Catholic formation feels blessed.
“My background, to some extent, enabled me to just have this sense of wonder the church is to us, and that we get to participate in all these blessings,” he said. “There’s so much confusion in the world. It was only in the Catholic Church that I found a surety and certainty of God’s plan.”
A convert, Hurtubise succeeds Megan Noll as director of youth, marriage and family. She took a job with the Archdiocese of New Orleans this summer.
“I think converts maybe have a unique perspective on this sort of thing,” he said of teaching the young to value their faith. “So often … we might lose sight of the power and the beauty we have as Catholics.”
Hurtubise has been serving as youth minister for the Amery/Balsam Lake cluster for the last few years. He and his wife Stephanie, a native of Balsam Lake whom Hurtubise met in college, are members of Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake. They grow vegetables and raise pigs, chickens and turkeys on their hobby farm in Luck.
Hurtubise’s journey to the area, to youth ministry and to Catholicism began in the university.
He was raised in the Chicago suburbs, where religion was somewhere in the backdrop of his life.
“I grew up Methodist but never really practiced my faith,” he said.
His first encounter with Christ occurred at a Protestant church. Hurtubise was attending Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, and he was inspired.
“The minister there was a really awesome, really holy kind of guy,” he added.
Still, Hurtubise had unanswered questions.
“Where did Scripture come from?” he wondered. “Why do we believe Jesus wasn’t being literal when he said, ‘This is my body, this is my blood’?”
Conversing with faculty members, he found answers.
“There were some Catholic professors at our school that were some really wise and holy men,” he explained. “I converted just after graduating from college.”
At St. Mary of the Angels, “an amazing parish” in Chicago, Hurtubise was received into the Catholic Church at the 2006 Easter Vigil.
At that point, he said, “I just really wanted to keep learning more about the faith.”
He went to the University of Dallas to study theology and earned a master’s degree in 2009, but Hurtubise wasn’t pursuing any particular career path.
“After I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it,” he said.
He and Stephanie, who also converted, moved back to Northern Wisconsin. They rented a farm, and he began writing for Catholic publications through Catholic Stewardship Consultants.
At the time, Hurtubise was also working for Our Lady of the Lakes, teaching adult formation and catechism classes.
“From there, it just kind of snowballed,” he said.
His parish work led to collaboration with the diocesan youth department, and it also resulted in what he considers one of the “greatest experiences” of his life – a 2012 youth group trip to several national parks and the Rocky Mountains.
“It was just absolutely incredible,” Hurtubise remembers. “We had Mass (celebrated by Fr. Patrick McConnell) on the mountainside every day. It was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Hurtubise was also moved by the landscape while on a mission trip to Colorado Springs.
“We got to spend a week up in the mountains there, too,” he added. “It was incredible, just so beautiful seeing the splendor of God’s creation.”
In addition to traveling and enjoying mountain scenery, Hurtubise also likes playing guitar and drums, reading, golfing, playing ultimate Frisbee and spending time with family.
As he prepares to work with Peggy Schoenfuss, diocesan director of Catholic formation and superintendent of schools, Hurtubise has a vision for diocesan youth ministry.
“There’s a great foundation in youth ministry programming my predecessor, Megan, laid,” he commented. “I guess the first part of my vision is to just keep those things going.”
He feels at the diocesan level, youth ministry should do what parishes can’t do, and afford opportunities “where kids can encounter Christ in this really powerful way … to keep drawing those kids deeper to those areas.
“The things that we’re doing with youth are really exciting,” he continued. “They really bring a lot of joy and fulfillment to the teens who are participating in them.”
As a team, he and Schoenfuss plan to implement more family-oriented programming.
“Youth ministry, when it’s done best, is always going to have a family component,” he said. “Her (Schoenfuss’) vision is really to expand those sorts of things into a more vibrant family ministry.”
Hurtubise invites parents and teens to contact him at the Bishop Hammes Center, Haugen, to share their ideas.
“I would love to get to know and meet with the people of the diocese and find out how we can better serve them,” Hurtubise added.
He is also eager to meet the diocese’s future bishop and fulfill his vision for shaping the faith of diocesan youth.
“Like everybody else, I’m eager to see who the Lord wants to send us,” he said.
Hurtubise can be reached at 715-234-5044 or .