In spite of being 12 hours and half a world away from Orlando, Florida, Mike Norman was able to view the live-streamed broadcast of the ceremony recently honoring him as a National Youth Ministry Award winner for his youth ministry leadership in the L.A. Archdiocese.His “energetic spirit,” one of the accolades mentioned during closing ceremonies at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry Nov. 29-Dec. 1, was being put to good use in Cambodia, where his volunteer service at an orphanage prevented him from receiving his award in person.Norman, who has served in youth ministry since before moving to Los Angeles from Nashville 21 years ago, has worked full-time for the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education for 17 years and is currently ORE’s associate director and director of youth ministry. His academic background includes a master’s degree in theology awarded in 2005 from Loyola Marymount University. In nominating him for the award, Religious Sister of Charity Edith Prendergast, archdiocesan ORE director, noted Norman’s leadership skills, honed nationally when he served on the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry’s board from 2003-08.“Michael is an excellent leader, articulate, and a very effective communicator and has been involved at the national level as speaker, facilitator, chairperson and committee member,” said Sister Prendergast, adding that his regional efforts included developing catechetical certification for youth ministers and mentoring new diocesan directors. “His energetic spirit touches lives and is a source of hope for many.”“Mike’s work in the archdiocese shows a dedication to the professionalism of the ministry coupled with a collaborative heart that enables his staff to effectively serve the pastoral needs of over 300 parishes,” said Stan Cordero, a friend and colleague in youth ministry from the Diocese of Santa Rosa.After arriving in Los Angeles two decades ago, Norman found a parish home at St. Monica in Santa Monica, where he became an active volunteer in youth ministry while working as a management trainer for the American Golf Corporation. After a few years in the corporate world, he had an epiphany.“I just realized one day that I wasn’t as fulfilled as when I was doing ministry,” said Norman, who had worked in youth ministry for eight years at St. Henry Church in Nashville before moving to Los Angeles.He has earned a reputation as a “servant leader, one who works alongside the other ministry leaders,” said Cheryl Tholcke, with the Washington-based Center for Ministry Development, who praised Norman’s advocacy of training and formation for adult leaders and young people. “It is one mark of excellent leadership and modeling when participants in programs grow up to be youth ministers, [some] youth ministers continue their education getting advanced degrees, and some move into diocesan leadership roles. As a longstanding member and leader in Region 11, Michael is looked to for his insight on issues and his experience is trusted. Mike is the leader every diocese deserves!”Even though a large part of his job is training adults for youth ministry, Norman says he still keeps his hand in direct youth service by overseeing the planning for the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress’ Youth Day, drawing more than 14,000 high school students and adults to the Anaheim Convention Center for a day of faith-focused workshops and liturgy. He also helps plan and implement the Christian Leadership Institute, a summer program for training high school youth for ministry. He says he hasn’t yet “come close to burnout” because of the archdiocese’s size, and the support of youth ministers and great collaboration from his co-workers.In describing his youth ministry career highlights, he shared an incident that happened at this year’s Youth Day, when a high school boy, noticing Norman’s official-looking head phones, came over to him and said: “I had a great day.”“I thought for this high school student to break away from his group to tell me this, not knowing who I was, it was powerful,” said Norman.Another highlight, he added, is how local youth ministry staff and volunteers work together as a team. “We have worked hard to make successful youth-planned events.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0405/norman/{/gallery}