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Catholic teens learn their strengths at Christian Leadership Institute

Some of the Catholic Church’s future leaders spent a week at the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center from June 26-July 1, 2016. The Christian Leadership Institute returned to Maple Mount to be with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph.

“It allows the kids to feel loved and identify with Christ in order to become better servant leaders in their families and parishes … and God-willing, the world,” said Suzy Solorza, director of Hispanic youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro. She is one of the co-leaders of CLI.

Twenty teens from nine parishes in the Diocese of Owensboro participated in the week, ranging in age from those who just completed their freshman year of high school up to recent high school graduates. They are recommended by pastors or youth ministers who see leadership potential in them, Solorza said.

On June 28, they began the morning with a multicultural diversity activity and then attended Mass. In the afternoon they participated in a popular team-building exercise.

After two days of working in teams, the adult table leaders identified the strengths each teen possessed, and then stripped them of that strength so they had to rely on others, said Deacon Matthew Keyser, the youth minister at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Bowling Green and one of the co-leaders of CLI.

“The ones who were very physical were not allowed to move, the ones who were very verbal were muted and the ones who were very hands-on were blindfolded,” Keyser said. “Other than team-building, we hope that they find some gifts that aren’t being used.”

Once each teen was stripped of a strength, they had to work together to complete a puzzle in the Retreat Center dining room. Only the blindfolded person could touch the pieces, Keyser said. The paralyzed person read the instructions and the muted person could touch the blindfolded person to guide them. The blindfolded person also had to memorize a scripture verse from the Gospel of Luke.

Once completed, the teams had to complete an obstacle course through the Retreat Center lobby and outside. Here are some photos from their activities.