Can you imagine leaving behind the world of outer beauty and personal appearance and dedicating yourself to cultivating inner beauty -- a love for God and service to others?
That is what Gabriela Del Rio, new coordinator of Youth Ministry of the Diocese of Raleigh, did when she decided to leave her job as a cosmetologist to serve in the Catholic church and work to develop faith formation leaders.
Del Rio was raised in a small town called El Porvenir in the state of Zacatecas, in Guadalupe. Her parents instilled in her the faith and love to serve in the Church. “I grew up with a bunch of my cousins and friends in a very Catholic, rural town,” says Del Rio. “My parents always took me to faith formation and to the saints’ feast days in my hometown.”
As a young adult, Del Rio decided to pursue professional work in the area of cosmetology and beauty. “My job was to make people beautiful on the outside,” she says.
After years of being a cosmetologist, Del Rio later became a cosmetology teacher, until she later determined that exterior beauty can only shine from within. “My career with exterior beauty motived me to be part of a bigger, more beautiful image of the human being,” she says.
For Del Rio, in her work today in Catholic faith formation, beauty is not about having the perfect makeup or the perfect hairdo as she used to instruct students in the cosmetology academy, it’s about having a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart and most importantly, a beautiful soul.
Del Rio loves the idea of helping to make beautiful souls filled with the joy and extraordinary virtues God has given to us. She says, “God’s work is from within, to bring the beauty and love out of a person. I enjoy forming leaders to become the best version of God’s beauty and love.”
Before taking her new role with the Diocese of Raleigh earlier this year, Del Rio ministered as a regional lay formation assistant and later, the coordinator for English and Spanish youth programs at St. Michael the Archangel in Cary.
According to Del Rio, many young people are facing loneliness, judgement and rejection every day. During a time in their lives when they are trying to adapt to their parents and growing into their own adulthood, they can feel left out or judged by society.
“By the grace of God, we are the door for each of the youth’s heart. Creating a welcoming environment makes them feel safe,” she says.
Meeting people where they are
The Diocese of Raleigh created a plan to accompany each parish on its mission of forming a new generation of leaders, starting with one small step at a time through small group discipleship.
“The best way to teach your faith to others is by showing love,” says Del Rio. “Teaching someone a prayer is a charm, but telling others that you love them is priceless. God is love, and without love we are nothing.”
Del Rio is accompanying parish leaders in the process of Recharge, a youth ministry model program that creates welcoming environments with intentional moments of encounter and conversion to Jesus Christ.
Del Rio smiles at the prospect of her new work with the diocese. “Youth Ministry is more than just gatherings, activities and events,” she says. “It’s about creating committed, intentional disciples who desire to belong and who deeply believe and behave like saints in the making.”