Teens attending the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI) last week learned that prayer should be an important component of daily life, especially when an individual holds a leadership position. Fifty-six teenagers took part in the institute, held at the Flaget Center July 8 to 13.
“It’s important to make sure what is at the center of that (life) is what God is calling us to do,” Mary Emrich, director of CLI and campus minister at Trinity High School, told the 14- to 18-year-olds last Tuesday, July 10.
The students who attended the youth conference represented 29 parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Additionally, three teens and two adults traveled from the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, to attend the event.
The mission of CLI is to empower young people to recognize the gifts God has given to them and to improve on these gifts in order to serve others, Emrich said.
“It’s about giving them confidence, especially in this culture of instant gratification,” she said. In today’s culture, teens often find it “challenging to express what they believe,” she added.
Throughout the week, the teens met in small groups, listened to presentations about leadership and took part in planning future activities for their church or school communities.
During a session on July 10, students experienced four different types of prayer: taize, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary and art.
The point of the prayer exercise was to introduce the students to a type of prayer they may not have encountered before and to get them acquainted with planning a prayer service.
“We all pray in many different ways. There are things that will work for some of us and some that won’t. We are going to give you the experience of four different kinds of prayer, because for the rest of CLI you all will be leading us through prayer,” Emrich told the students, who were asked to try various leadership roles during the institute.
Alex Carter, a senior at DeSales High School and parishioner at St. Thomas More Church, said he came to CLI not knowing a single person there. But a couple of days into the retreat, he said, he had made a new set of friends.
“I’ve been on a lot of retreats, but this is different. We’ve developed quite a bit of leadership skills already. That’s what really pushed me into it (CLI),” he said.
For Jarrod Rippy, a parishioner at St. Leonard Church, attending CLI was not an obvious choice.
“I had no idea what to expect … but I’ve learned so much about positive and negative communication, especially technological communications — how you might say something over a screen but not in person,” the Trinity High School junior said.
Adrienne Poole, a sophomore at Meade County High School, said she plans to take back what she’s learned at CLI and implement it in her parish, St. John the Apostle Church in Brandenburg, Ky.
“There is such a wide variety of people leading us and a wide variety of opportunities to learn from them. I plan to take back the planning skills I’ve learned to plan events,” she said.
Emrich said that year after year, she is taken by the teens’ willingness to attend the week-long conference.
“It’s a big commitment,” she said. “They don’t leave to go to sports. Just their to willingness to be here and how excited they are impresses me.”
By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer