The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

15 Catholic young adults who inspire us, 2022

Returning parish and diocesan ministries to what they were before the pandemic will take the work of the entire Church, especially young adults who understand the importance of Christ and their Catholic faith.

Studies show that up to 50 percent of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the Church. These 15 young adults have committed to careers and volunteer hours to sharing God’s word in the Diocese of Little Rock. 

Arkansas Catholic asked Church leaders to recommend young adults who are an inspiration to people in the pews and classrooms. We interviewed millennials (those born between 1981-1996) and some from Generation Z (born between 1997-2012), asking them to share their faith journey. They work in schools, parishes and ministries full time, part time or as volunteers. Most are single, but some are married and have children. For these profiles, we selected Catholics born from 1992 to 2004, now 18 to 30 years old.

Profiles written by Chris Price, Aprille Hanson Spivey, James Keary, Alesia Shaefer, Dwain Hebda and Maryanne Meyerreicks.


Colton Ketter: Difficult discernment

By Chris Price, Published: September 12, 2022   

Sometimes discerning God’s plan can be difficult, if not downright confusing. Colton Ketter, new campus minister at St. Leo the Great University Parish at Arkansas Tech in Russellville, can attest to it. Ketter, 23, was raised in Charleston where his family attended Sacred Heart Church.  In high school, he attended Search and served on the diocese’s Youth Advisory Council for two years. When he moved to Russellville for college, he said he made most of his More... 

Luke Monk: Duty to God and country

By Maryanne Meyerriecks, Published: September 11, 2022   

Luke Monk’s college choice was influenced by his belief that Catholics are called to be servant leaders. Plus he wanted to serve his country. The 18-year-old is a freshman cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During high school, he focused on this goal, being the first student in the Fort Smith School District to graduate high school with an associate’s degree in Unmanned Aerial Systems, acquired through the district’s Western Arkansas Technical More... 

Hannah and Bryce Cummings: Young Faith

By Dwain Hebda, Published: September 10, 2022   

Three years ago, Hannah Cummings was asked to be a religious education teacher. It was an assignment she readily accepted; not only did she have previous educational experience as a professional dance teacher, but it gave her a chance to invest in the children of the same parish where she grew up, St. Jude Church in Jacksonville.   Recently Bryce Cummings, her husband of three years, joined her both in the faith and in the classroom. Together More... 

Charlotte Self: Always there for you

By Dwain Hebda, Published: September 9, 2022   

Charlotte Self’s career leading young people into a closer relationship with Christ goes back to her teens, but when she took the role as head of youth ministry at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock, it was a noteworthy step. Self grew up in Good Counsel and being able to serve the youth of her home parish is particularly meaningful.   “I had been a teacher for PRE for a couple of years when More... 

Ashley Roberson: Leading others

By Chris Price, Published: September 8, 2022   

Ashley Roberson, 19, hit the Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a mission — to help her fellow college students remain in or find the faith by creating a home away from home for them at St. John Newman University Parish.  “I wanted to continue my faith when I got to college. That’s always been a top priority,” Roberson said. “When I found the Newman Center, I got involved and have loved it since.” As a freshman More... 

Josh Salman: Teaching the faith

By Chris Price, Published: September 7, 2022   

In his new role as director of campus ministry at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, Josh Salman is tasked with helping the school’s nearly 450 teenage girls develop and express their faith.  He admits, however, that it is not always easy to be Catholic, much less for adolescents. With his direction and examples from his past, though, he feels he can help the students develop an enduring, lifelong faith.   Originally from Searcy, Salman, 25, grew More... 

Kevin Leal: Faith builder

By Chris Price, Published: September 6, 2022   

A family’s first-born child is often thrust into a leadership role, and that’s certainly true with Kevin Leal. The first child of Oralia and Oscar Leal, Kevin has not only been a role model for his three younger brothers but has worked for his father’s construction company. He graduated in May from Heber Springs High School as co-salutatorian where he was a member of several clubs and sports teams, He served St. Albert Church as an More... 

Phan Le: From Vietnam to Arkansas

By Chris Price, Published: September 5, 2022   

Phan Le has been a member of St. Patrick Church in North Little Rock for just five years, but the 18-year-old has already made an impact. Le was born and raised in Vietnam and moved to the United States in 2017. Since arriving, she has dedicated her Sundays to volunteering and helps to coordinate the Christmas pageant and May crowning. She said she was initially nervous about volunteering because she was not confident speaking English, but More... 

Kimberly Colula: Confident Catholic

By James Keary , Published: September 4, 2022   

Kimberly Colula was not very outgoing growing up in Glenwood. She was an honor student at Centerpoint High School who aspires to be a medical doctor, has participated in Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and was a choir member, lector and religious education director. She said she gained her confidence serving in Encuentros de Promocion Juvenil, known as EPJ, a program for Hispanic young adults, to teach the importance of accepting the Gospel More... 

Rosemarie Ochoa: Letting music lead her

By Aprille Hanson Spivey, Published: September 3, 2022   

The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock has reverberated with the sounds of Rosemarie Ochoa’s voice for years, from the cries at her baptism as an infant to cantoring during priestly ordinations.  The 23-year-old Hendrix College graduate, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music and Spanish last year, has been the assistant organist at the Cathedral since fall 2021 Though she grew up primarily attending Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock More... 

Jacob Moellers: Others before self

By Aprille Hanson Spivey, Published: September 2, 2022   

During his freshman year at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Jacob Moellers, 22, began volunteering at ACTS Jr., a program through Pediatrics Plus in Russellville that brings youth with disabilities together to create a play each semester. He met Justin, a teen who has a developmental disability, and they developed a fast friendship. Early on, Justin shared with Moellers, “You’re my best friend.”  “I almost melted and cried right there,” he said and is now accustomed to More... 

Rachel Ridgeway: Seeing Christ in our midst

By Aprille Hanson Spivey, Published: September 1, 2022   

Rachel Ridgeway feels called to love and serve.  “I have always felt like I had a heart for service,” the 21-year-old senior at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro said.  Ridgeway grew up at Christ the King Church in Little Rock where her mother, Becky Ridgeway, is associate director of youth ministry. As a teen, she played guitar for the parish’s youth band, Team Jesus.  “That has been my favorite form of prayer ever since I really learned to More... 

Kaitlyn Hartman: Childlike faith

By Aprille Hanson Spivey, Published: August 31, 2022   

When Kaitlyn Hartman, 20, is teaching faith formation to youth at St. Joseph Church in Conway, it’s a chance to share the faith and “feed off of their energy and have that childlike faith that God wants us to have.”  A full-time junior at the University of Central Arkansas studying middle-level education, Hartman was hired as the faith formation director in May, overseeing kindergarten through 12th grade faith formation classes, retreats, vacation Bible school and sacramental More... 

Emily Dana: Invest in Catholic education

By Alesia Schaefer, Published: August 30, 2022   

Even as a student at Benedictine College, Emily Dana, 30, knew that she wanted to teach.  In 2014, she graduated with a double major in elementary and special education and a minor in dance and theology and was awarded the “Student Teacher of the Year” for the state of Kansas as a senior. Her first year of teaching was at David Brewer Elementary School in Leavenworth, Kan.  The following year, a move to Rogers brought her closer More... 

Ava Earnhart: Resilience

By Maryanne Meyerriecks, Published: August 28, 2022   

Ava Earnhart loves to share her love of singing and music with those who really need it. Earnhart, 22, was baptized and received her First Communion when she was 9, shortly after she and her younger brother, Matthew, were adopted. Her birth mother was a drug user, and she didn’t know her father. She went into the foster care system when she was 3, and over the next five years she lived in 14 different foster More...