Youths learn leadership skills, strengthen their faith at High Li

July 31, 2012

By Elizabeth Lowe
Twitter: @ReviewLowe 

SPARKS – A handful of youths who attended the High School Leadership Institute asked Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski a breadth of questions, from how he celebrates his birthday to the challenges of being a bishop. 

Bishop Rozanski told the 57 youths that one advantage of being a bishop is that “you see the larger picture of the church.” Conversely, he said, “because I’m in so many different places, what I miss from parish life is you get to know people … you become a really integral part of people’s lives.”

The high school-aged youths from across the Archdiocese of Baltimore participated in the dialogue with the bishop July 27 at the Monsignor O’Dwyer Retreat House during the program better known as High Li.

The annual program, held July 22-28, works to hone youths’ leadership skills and equip them to be church leaders. Founded in the late 1970s, it is sponsored by the Division of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The program costs youths $690, but scholarships are available, said Margaret Brogden, the archdiocese’s coordinator of youth ministry formation and High Li director. 

The youths also asked Bishop Rozanski how he stands firm in his faith in an ever-changing world.

“What keeps us grounded, I believe, is learning about our faith as much as we can,” Bishop Rozanski said. “If we’re rooted in Jesus, that helps to keep us grounded.”

Throughout the week, the teens gave speeches about their faith and planned and participated in daily Masses, prayer services and other activities. 

They were in three groups: Source and Summit trained young people for liturgical roles in a parish or school; Emmaus focused on peer ministry; and Acts 29 worked to strengthen parish and school leadership abilities. 

Sylvia Umegbolu, a parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo, Pikesville, who was on the Source and Summit track, said she came to High Li “looking to grow my faith and find out how to be a better Christian.” 

“It’s an amazing and eye-opening experience,” said Umegbolu, 16. 

Adam Valavanis, a parishioner of St. Louis in Clarksville who was on the Acts 29 track, plans to apply the leadership skills he learned at High Li in his parish and school leadership roles.

“It’s leadership boot camp,” said Valavanis, 17. “It gets you in shape, tells you what you need to do. It’s very rewarding.”

Adam added that he learned “prophets need to not boast about being a leader. It’s about putting the message of God over themselves.”

The Emmaus track included Beth Moynihan, another parishioner of St. Louis, Clarksville, who said High Li “really strengthened my relationship with the Lord” and that she learned “new ways to step up and be a leader.”

“He (Jesus) is with everyone and he’s always going to be with you,” said Moynihan, 15. 

During a youths-led prayer service July 27, Paulist Father John E. Hurley, executive director of the Department of Evangelization, told them that “it’s great when we’re in this type of environment together because we feel as one and it’s OK to be the best God has given us.”

“Go out these doors knowing there is relationship among us,” Father Hurley said.  “Remember first and foremost you are disciples of Jesus Christ.” 
 
 
 
Copyright (c) July 31, 2012 CatholicReview.org