Christian Leadership Institute prepares young people with skills for the future

Deacon Matthew Keyser wants the youth in the Diocese of Owensboro to know something special.

“The Church needs young people, and we need them right now,” Keyser said.

He is the youth minister at Holy Spirit Church in Bowling Green, Ky., but the week of June 21-26, 2015, he was one of 13 adults working with the 22 teenagers who made up the Christian Leadership Institute, which returned to the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center again this year.

High school students, from those who just finished their freshman year to those recently graduated, join a team of leaders to discover their God-given talents and to find ways to use them in their parishes, schools and communities.

“As a youth minister, I’m looking for leadership, involvement, investing in young people,” Keyser said. “These are the cream of the crop of young people.”

Pastors at parishes across the Diocese of Owensboro are urged to recommend their young people with leadership skills to attend CLI, said Melinda Prunty, director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Owensboro. She is also an Ursuline Associate.

“They learn about themselves, that they have something to contribute,” Prunty said. “They develop communication skills and learn to work with group dynamics.”

This year’s group is one of the most diverse, with members from Burma, Central America and Mexico. They are from all over the diocese, including the first student ever from St. Henry in Aurora, Prunty said.

By week’s end, the members each determine some sort of project to take back to their parish, Keyser said. “There’s a whole curriculum that helps them learn their leadership skills,” he said. “They feel safe and affirmed.”

One of the adults working her first CLI was Stephany Nelson, a postulant with the Ursuline Sisters. She attends Holy Spirit and Keyser asked her to join because she works so well with young people.

“It’s fun,” Nelson said. “Just seeing the youth become leaders and learn to work together. It’s neat.”

Here are some photos from the June 23 activities: