Features

New Pastoral Center Staff

Originally Appeared in : 9721-10/21/17

Learn about Wynter Kelly, Director of Curriculum and Instruction; Jayne Stefanic, Director of Family Life; Amy Elkins, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; and Maureen Coates, Director of Stewardship and Development

Learn about Wynter Kelly, Director of Curriculum and Instruction; Jayne Stefanic, Director of Family Life; Amy Elkins, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; and Maureen Coates, Director of Stewardship and Development.

 

Wynter Kelly, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Looking back at her first time in a Catholic school—teaching Advanced Placement Chemistry at Marin Catholic High School just outside of San Rafael, California—Wynter Kelly remembers a distinct difference from her own public school education in West Virginia.

 

“I would say it was refreshing, but I don’t even think that’s a good enough word. It was life-giving to me,” Kelly said. “This is where I wanted to be--being able to [unabashedly] live out my faith while being at work…and you can wear that faith right on your sleeve.” 

 

Kelly’s career—or rather vocation, as she describes it—in Catholic education didn’t end there. 

 

Since leaving California, she’s held various roles such as dean of students, coach and science teacher at Catholic schools in Athens, Georgia and before that, Providence, Rhode Island. She was even the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s first female athletic director. 

 

A biology graduate of the University of West Georgia, Kelly is no stranger to science, one of the many curriculums she now oversees as the diocese’s first Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She credits the passion of a high school teacher with her decision to pursue a bachelor of science. 

 

“This is a newly created position,” she said of her new role, noting that as part of her job, which developed from the Catholic Schools Office emphasis on academic rigor, she is currently heading the diocesan effort to rewrite the entire curriculum across all grade levels and subjects. 

 

Kelly, many of whose own five children attend Catholic institutions including Saint Peter the Apostle in Savannah and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., doesn’t take the “awesome opportunity, responsibility and privilege” of working in Catholic education lightly. 

 

As a professor at the University of Notre Dame, where she obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership, used to remind his classes: “If you’re in Catholic education, you’re in the business of forming saints.”

 

“I truly believe that Catholic education is at the heart of the Church,” she said. “It’s how we pass on our faith to our youth. You have the opportunity to work with children and bring them closer to God. And what’s more important than that?” 

 

You may reach Wynter Kelly at 912-201-4073 or wkelly@diosav.org

 

Jayne Stefanic, Director of Family Life​

 

When you enter Jayne Stefanic’s office, you notice on her wall the saying: “Family . . . where life begins and Love never ends.” Stefanic emphasizes that family is very important to her, which is appropriate considering she is the new Director of Family Life for the diocese. Family is the main reason (besides no snow) that Stefanic and her husband of 26 years moved from Wisconsin to the Savannah area – to help in the care of his 95-year-old father and 88- year-old stepmother. 

 

Prior to joining the diocesan staff, Stefanic served five years as the Victim Assistance Coordinator and Safe Environment director for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. While she said the ministry was very hard on her soul, it was also “very humbling that the victims of abuse put their trust in me to share their story and allow me to walk with them on their journey of healing." “Compassion was the key, compassion in the name of Christ," Stefanic explained.

 

Stefanic, a Wisconsin native, went to college for Church ministry. After graduating from college with a double major in theology and sociology, Stefanic entered a volunteer youth ministry program in Washington D.C.

 

During her time in the nation’s capital, Cardinal James Hickey awarded her a scholarship to attend The Catholic University of America, where she earned a master’s degree in social work, with a concentration on social ministry.

 

Stefanic served many years in youth ministry and crisis intervention work in the D.C. and Chicago areas before returning to her home town in Wisconsin to raise their children and help in the care of her parents. Stefanic is also a licensed psychotherapist and worked in private practice for 17 years in Wisconsin prior to her ministry with the Green Bay diocese. “I never really left ministry," Stefanic explained. “I always wove the spiritual in my psychotherapy with individuals, couples and families.”

 

Her extensive experience is what Stefanic is turning to in her new position as Director of Family life for the diocese. The diocesan Family Life Office is responsible for marriage preparation programming and development; marriage enrichment; marriage healing; divorce ministry; the annual wedding anniversary Mass and celebration; grief and bereavement; natural family planning; baptismal preparation; pro-life, respect life, abortion healing; and a resource for parishes and schools in the area of family life.

 

If family is the domestic Church, then she believes Jesus needs to be the source and summit of the family.

 

You may reach Jayne Stefanic at 912-201-4068 or jstefanic@diosav.org

 

Amy Elkins, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry​ 

“Youth are the future of our Church. There’s no doubt about it. We were all youth, and we are the Church now, and they are the future of our Church. And if we don’t help them build a relationship with Christ and build a relationship with the Church, we’re going to continue to decline [in population] instead of to rise,” said Amy Elkins, who is the new diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult ministry. 

 

Elkins developed that outlook while working for 14 years in voluntary ministry at Christ the King parish in Pine Mountain. Her years of service at Christ the King included serving as the youth minister for eight years and then for six additional years as the Director of Religious Education (DRE). 

 

Those experiences prompted Elkins to pursue a degree in youth ministry at Loyola University, New Orleans. She completed her course work, all conducted online, in August of 2016 while serving as DRE.

 

Having had first-hand experience working in youth ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, Elkins understands the importance of developing relationships with not only the youth but also those who minister to them. 

 

“Youth ministers kind of feel like they don’t have a lot of support,” she said. As a result, she explained that she will build new relationships and strengthen those that exist.

 

While discussing her plans for connecting with the youth, she emphasized the necessity of demonstrating to them that they are not alone, even though being in the non-Catholic South may make it seem so. 

 

All of the activities organized by the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, such as the Junior Youth and Diocesan Youth Conferences, are intended to unite youth and help them see their strength in numbers. 

 

“The Catholic Church is the biggest church—Christian Church—in the world and we need to let kids know that ‘you’re not the only Catholic,’” Elkins said. “The more we can get them together and connect their faith with something larger than just a small town, the better we are and the stronger our Church will be.” 

 

You may reach Amy Elkins at  912-201-4057 or aelkins@diosav.org

 

Maureen Coates, Director of Stewardship and Development​

When Maureen Coates moved to Georgia approximately three years ago, she says that she “just knew” she had made the right choice. 

 

“I just followed the call. I knew I was headed toward something, and I was waiting for that something to present itself,” Coates, a South Jersey native who attended both Catholic elementary and high schools in the Garden State, said. “When this job opened up, I knew that’s where I was supposed to be.” 

 

After spending 16 years traveling coast to coast for a consulting firm that worked to raise money for Catholic churches and schools, Coates was ready for a change. She then spent approximately two-and-a-half years in Newnan, Georgia before moving to Savannah.

 

As the diocese’s newest Director of Stewardship and Development, Coates gets to use her undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from Philadelphia University in Pennsylvania and Roosevelt University in Chicago, respectively, to help steward the monetary gifts of local Catholics and bolster their faith communities.

 

“When you look back to our parents and grandparents, providing for the Church was just understood. It was just what they did,” she said. “I want to carry that forward for the next generation to make sure we preserve a bit of what we had and pass that on.” 

 

Coates acknowledges that her goal, for communities to have a faith community as strong as the one that she had growing up, won’t be easy—not only because of the scale of the Diocese of Savannah but also because of the many demands of parishioners such as family, work, home and school.
Families will always have challenges, she acknowledged.

 

“But the Church is there for them through those challenges, and we need to be there for them as much as they are there for us,” she said, adding that she believes helping Catholics to see the results of her office’s labors will make a difference. “Faith and our Church has to be up there of what we commit to. It’s who we are; it’s what we do.”

 

You may reach Maureen Coates at 912-201-4050 or mcoates@diosav.org

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