Making a Difference in Your Parish

MODG Junior Maria Salamida Talks with VOX about Volunteering at Her Parish in New York

Mary Theresa PItre, VOX Reporter

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With people in the United States who were raised Catholic – but who no longer consider themselves Catholic – numbering  32 million in 2014,  it is important to see the signs that the Church is alive and active.

Just look at St. Leo’s Parish in Hilton, N.Y.  That is where Maria Salamida, a MODG junior, shows her love for God by serving her parish through music. Along with being in the choir, and praise and worship band, she also assists with the youth group and helps out her father who is the director of religious education in the parish.

Music plays a big role in Maria’s life and in her service to her parish. Because so many people have a passion for music, it is a powerful tool for ministry.


St. Cecilia Sing at Sacred Heart Cathedral in New York. Maria and 15 other youth from her diocese received the St. Cecilia High School Award, for musical service in their parishes. Maria is in the middle of the back row. Photo courtesy of Maria Salamida.


“I know a lot of teens today who are interested in music just want to become famous and make albums and stuff like that, and although that is using your talents for others, that is an easier way to become focused on something other than God. So, if you want to use your talents for God, it’s so much better to do it through your parish,” said Maria.

Becoming an active member in your parish does more than benefit the parish. As Maria has found, it can affect you in an extremely positive way as well.

Maria said this about volunteering, “I’ve never really thought about it in depth as to how it affects me, but I know it affects me for the better. It definitely helps me not to be lazy, because I’m always up and moving around, so I think it has taught me an attitude of service, and how sometimes doing something for others is better than doing something for yourself, and it’s more satisfying and more rewarding.”

Using one’s talents for God is simple: volunteer as Maria has done. A person does not have to be a professional musician or an experienced speaker to make a difference.

Parishes need people to teach catechism, to run programs, and to help with fundraisers. Also needed are lectors, Eucharistic ministers and altars servers.

resized family of Maria

Maria’s brothers, sisters and parents. Maria is between her mother and brother on the left. Her father, Dominic, is in the back, upper right. Photo courtesy of Maria Salamida.


“The Church is composed of the mystical body of Christ, which is us, and if we aren’t active, then Christ isn’t active because he is speaking through us. So I don’t see the point in just going to Sunday Mass and then going home and doing nothing else. I don’t think that’s really living out the life of Christ,” said Maria.

People may have talents to share but they are shy or lack confidence.

“Find your confidence in Christ,” said Maria. “If he really wants you to use your talents in a specific way or in a smaller or a bigger way or in whatever way that he’s calling you to use them, you’re not going to walk away at the end going, ‘Oh, why did I do that?’ It’s going to benefit you and it’s going to be for the best because whatever his will is, is going to make you happy.”

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