Jared Conzemius likes adventure and challenge. When he’s not spending time on his family’s farm north of Breckenridge, he can often be found at his high school, where he participates in theater, speech and robotics.
Jared is the youngest of Ron and Mary Conzemius’ five children and an active member of St. Mary of the Presentation Parish in Breckenridge.
“He is strong in his faith, he has a heart for God,” his mom, Mary, said. “He is very compassionate. His family and friends are important to him. He just loves life.”
Now a senior in high school, Jared has been a Mass server since second grade and also enjoys being a eucharistic minister and, occasionally, an usher.
“I love going to church,” Jared said. “I think it’s a great time to get away from the fast pace of life and just slow down and spend time with the Lord.”
Gail Singelmann, a lifelong member of St. Mary’s for 76 years, nominated Jared for the Youth and Young Adult award, and he was selected as January’s winner.
Singelmann follows youth activities and sports in the area and specifically took notice of Jared’s initiative to promote pro-life awareness.
“The first thing that drew me to him was the first time he spoke in front of the whole church at all of the Masses at both parishes,” she said. “He was raising money for the FirstChoice Clinic in Fargo. He spoke quite eloquently and has improved every year since.”
FirstChoice Clinic is a non-profit, faith-based clinic located in Fargo, North Dakota, with satellite offices in Bismarck and Devils Lake. The clinic provides education and health services to empower individuals to make informed, life-affirming choices, according to the agency’s website.
Four years ago, Jared began confirmation classes and needed to complete service hours. His mother proposed he give a speech about pro-life issues at St. Mary’s and its twinned parish of St. Thomas in Kent.
“FirstChoice Clinic does some important things,” Jared said. “The services they bring, we need to fund them so they can keep doing these wonderful things.”
His efforts included not only raising awareness about the clinic, but also raising funds for it by promoting its annual Life Walk.
“I really enjoyed that. This walk is a really important thing to have. The [clinic] is saving children every day between giving free pregnancy tests, prenatal care, support of the parents, the peace of mind that they are able to give — all of that keeps babies alive.”
Jared said he has always been against abortion and wants to stand up against it to help save lives.
“Growing up that’s what my parents have taught me — to stand up for your faith because it’s just the right thing to do. We should do the right thing,” he said.
But it hasn’t always been easy. Occasionally, Jared has come across those who disagree with his stance.
“That’s when you turn to the Bible and that’s where you prove them wrong,” he said. “The Bible has the truth in it. If people run away from that truth, all you can do is try to point them in the right direction and hopefully get them to understand the truth.”
He also makes a connection with losing lives of babies to abortion with having lost a brother to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, before Jared was born.
“Long before my time, I had a brother who died of SIDS. I was able to share a little about that with people,” Jared said. “People kind of related to it and it really hit home with some people. It was incredible to see how if you relate with somebody how much it can affect them. I had seen people in the crowd crying and, after Mass, one elderly man in our church approached me and said his mother was a teen when she birthed him.
He told me, ‘I’m lucky I was born then because if I was born now who knows if I would have made it?’”
Jared’s talks have been successful in bringing awareness to the community as well as in raising funds — Singelmann estimated he has raised upwards of $8,000 over the last four years for the clinic.
“Slowly abortion clinics are closing,” Jared said. “I always end my speeches with, ‘We are winning the fight for life.’ These little things are what’s going to win that fight for life.”
Jared said he has been “truly blessed with a great family who has held the faith closely.”
After graduation, Jared is considering attending Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead.
“They have a nice theater program and that really drew me,” he said. “I am also considering doing my generals for engineering.”
His advice for other young people: Trust in the Lord.
“You might not know what he’s doing now,” he said, “but it will all make sense later on.”
More about Jared
Name: Jared Conzemius
Age/grade: 18, senior at Breckenridge High School
Hometown (where you grew up): On a farm north of Breckenridge
Current parish: St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge
Book on your bedside: “Game of Thrones”
Movie you could watch over and over: “Star Wars” series
A saint who inspires you: St. Michael, the Archangel
Favorite app: ESPN
A prayer you love: Act of Contrition
In your spare time, you can be found: at play practice, speech practice, or earlier in the fall, with the Robotics Club
A pizza isn’t perfect unless it has: Meat!
If you could be a superhero or cartoon character, you would be: Thor
Favorite Bible verse or story: Matthew 16:13-18 (Peter’s confession to Jesus)
You couldn’t drive by which restaurant without stopping: HuHot
Your favorite thing about being Catholic is: How God fills us with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments.
Let your voice be heard
Q: What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?
Jared: Our school robotics team placed fifth out of 32 in the regional competition.
Q: What is one gift you think you bring to the church?
Jared: My service. I am a Mass server and a eucharistic minister and usher, on occasion.
Q: What is one gift the church could give you?
Jared: The church gives me the Eucharist.
Q: If you had the opportunity to talk with Pope Francis, what would you tell him?
Jared: I would thank him for bringing Christ to our troubled world.
To nominate a youth or young adult — ages 15-39 — for the YAYA awards, visit
www.stcloudvisitor.org and click on the “YAYA Awards” button to fill out the nomination form. Or call 320-251-3022 to have a form mailed to you.
YAYA nominees should be enthusiastic about their Catholic faith, set a good example for their peers, and be active in their parish.
Each month, a panel from The Visitor will select a winner, who will be featured in the print edition and online.