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Sunday, 18 July 2010 08:34

Youth learn leadership skills at CLI

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During a day session of the 2010 Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), a blind-folded Grace Akin of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville completes an obstacle course on the lawn of Benedictine University in Springfield while two of her fellow CLI attendees give directions. This obstacle course exercise was one of several activities that involve group members learning to trust each other and to work together to complete a task. Behind her is CLI adult leader Andrea Greenburg from St. Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish in Alton.The annual Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) was held on the campus of Benedictine University in Springfield July 5-10. The 25 participants were led by 18 adult and youth leaders who taught them leadership and communication skills, community building and group dynamics.

CLI is sponsored by the diocesan Office for Catechesis — Ministry to Youth and Young Adults.

The youth participants came to CLI on the recommendation of their pastor or youth minister, said Becky Bauerle, who was one of the coordinators of CLI and has been involved with it for over 20 years. Many of the youth return in subsequent years to take part in more advanced teen theology work or act as future CLI volunteers.

At CLI, days are filled with learning experiences, classes and prayer sessions, while evenings are more social times when the new friends can relax together. This year’s group was a good one, said Bauerle, who is also youth minister for Mother of Perpetual Help in Maryville and Mother of Dolors in Vandalia. “We knew from the very first night that we had a very good group here,” she said.

Bauerle believes it is important for students to become acquainted with young people with religious vocations. This year Deacon Brian Alford and Hyland Smith, both diocesan seminarians, were involved in CLI leadership roles. Fathers Peter Harman, David Hoefler, Christopher House and Stephen Thompson were on hand for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Staying at a college campus is a good experience for the young people, most who are entering their freshman year of high school this fall. “The kids are staying in the dorms here and they love the college atmosphere,” Bauerle said. “I can’t say enough kind words about the college opening its doors to us. It’s been great.”

This year’s students hailed from Collinsville, Edwardsville, Maryville, Pittsfield, Rochester, Sherman, Springfield and Vandalia.