Adrian Lynch stands in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima outside of St. John Paul II Parish, Milwaukee, where he serves as youth director. Lynch also coaches volleyball and softball for the parish schools, and basketball and soccer for Nativity Jesuit Middle School, Milwaukee. (Catholic Herald photo by Ricardo Torres)Milwaukee-native Adrian Lynch, 27, works as youth ministry director at St. John Paul II Parish in Milwaukee, teaches confirmation classes and helps with the St. Vincent de Paul  meal program. He said he does “basically, anything that deals with youth.” When he’s not acting as director, he has been volunteering for two years at Casa Romero Renewal Center, an urban and bilingual spirituality center serving Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin. People may also hear kids calling him “coach” as he coaches soccer and basketball at Nativity Jesuit Middle School, Milwaukee, and volleyball and softball at his parish’s schools. Adrian, the middle child of three, grew up in the food business and wants to open his own restaurant and become a philanthropist.

“Professionally, I’d like to have a successful restaurant, not just to have a lot of fun, but to donate money to a lot of youth programs,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

School and/or occupation:

Director of youth ministry at St. John Paul II Parish, Milwaukee

What is your dream job?

Owning my own business, specifically, a couple of restaurants where I’d have a sense of ownership. My family owned two Mexican restaurants so I grew up in the business. I know a lot about it and I’d like to open up a fast, casual restaurant. My parents closed the restaurants in 2001 and they were very successful. But my mom felt that she was missing our childhood because she wasn’t really around when we were kids because she was working. 

What’s on your iPod?

I lean mostly toward hip-hop. I like the new J. Cole album “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” My favorite Spanish music is Aventura and my favorite band is Coldplay. 

If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

My dad passed away last June. I would like to have one last dinner with him. He’s the person behind my faith. He never really forced us to go to Mass.

I would see him go to church every Sunday and it would never fail. It would be 6 a.m. and he’d be up for the 7 a.m. Mass. I remember as a kid I would see him go to Mass every Sunday and he would come home and tell us about the readings. It made me want to go to church because he did it. 

Who has made the biggest impact upon you?

My dad has been the biggest impact on me. He always treated people with respect. He was always happy. Of course, everyone gets mad but he was a very happy person. He lived his life for other people. He always made sure everyone around him was taken care of and he’s my biggest influence. 

Describe a normal weekend:

Since I work for the church, a lot of times we have youth events during the weekend or I’m coaching games. I play volleyball on Sundays and when the summer comes, I play soccer on Sundays. Of course, I go to Mass in the mornings but for me I’m always involved in youth whether it’s coaching or youth events. 

What’s one thing that makes you unique?

I never quit. If I really want something, I’ll work very hard to achieve it. I learned that about myself at a young age because if I wanted something I would find a way to get it. And I found if I didn’t really want anything, then I wouldn’t pursue it hard. But if I really wanted an “A” on a paper, if I wanted an Xbox or Nintendo game, I would work hard to get it. 

Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/prayer:

There are too many to choose from.

Favorite quote?

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” I don’t remember where I heard it but I’ve always felt that way. I see it in sports; when I’m coaching players and they’re getting frustrated, I tell them that quote. I feel that it’s true. 

What is your favorite food, dessert?

Favorite food is pizza – sausage and pepperoni, thin crust. My favorite dessert is oatmeal raisin cookies.

A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:

When my dad died, he was 84 years old and he lived in a nursing home. He had dementia. He used to live in our house and one day the doorbell rang and I was sitting on the couch and he gets up and starts walking to the door. I started joking with him “Faster, faster, go faster dad,” and then he fell. I ran and picked him up and found out he had broken his hip. That day was the last day our dad was living with us. I always blamed myself for that incident. 

My faith was really tested because this man doesn’t miss Mass, he’s as Christ-like as someone could be, and this happens. But in speaking with him, he had dementia and sometimes he would remember me, sometimes he wouldn’t. But some of the conversations that I had with him at the nursing home, he wouldn’t know it was me but he would always talk about me and talk about how proud he was and how he liked how I lived my faith. And it meant a lot because he was speaking to me but he didn’t know it was me. 

I was very angry at what happened to him and that he was taken away from us but I don’t think he would want our faith to waver. He wouldn’t want me to blame God or myself for what happened. It really strengthened my faith because how could something so bad happen to him, and he always sees the positive side? He was never angry about it. It really tempted my faith. I was asking why it happened.

Favorite pastime/hobby/activity:

I like to go to the movies, or play sports like volleyball and soccer.

What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?

Professionally, I’d like to have a successful restaurant, not just to have a lot of fun, but to donate money to a lot of youth programs. That’s my ultimate goal. It sounds kind of bad, but I want to be rich to help. I know I can help now, but if I had more money to give I would give more money. I also want people to think of me as someone who has never judged anyone.

How do you live your faith every day?

By living by example and going to Mass, and having people see me go to Mass. I invite people all the time to go to Mass. I talk to people all the time about different events going on at the church, like retreats and stuff.

Name one guilty pleasure:

I like to go dancing like salsa, merengue and bachata. I like to go to the Latin clubs. My favorite is Kaña Mojito on the south side of Milwaukee.