Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
August 27, 2001
Youth learn leadership skills
Jesus is model for leaders of principle
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Kelsey Speakman has wanted to improve the environment at her school but didn't quite know how to go about it. Now she does and is ready to take on the task.
The 17-year-old student at Louis St. Laurent School is one of 55 young people and 13 adults from across Western Canada who took part in a youth leadership training conference at Newman Theological College Aug. 13-17.
Conference participants, most of whom hold leadership roles in their parishes and schools, were taught how to be leaders using Jesus as a model.
Dean Woodbeck and Michelle Garlinski, both youth ministers and master of divinity students at Newman, taught several sessions.
They looked at what it means to be a principle-centred, pro-active leader like Jesus as well as how Christians can bring Jesus' principles to the world.
They also looked at the young Church of today and the gifts that young people bring to the Church.
"The purpose is to create leaders who will be Christ-centred," Garlinski said.
Dawna Richardson, an adult youth minister at Calgary's Ascension Parish, brought four youth to the conference.
"I like this program because it gives the kids an opportunity to dream," she said. "It's creating modern leaders and giving them the tools to do more than they have been accustomed to."
The annual conference was organized by the Canadian Ministry Support Service, a Regina-based non-profit group founded by Woodbeck and his wife. Funding for this year's event came from Newman College's Littlemore Program.
The five-day conference also included morning and evening prayer, a Mass, social events, games and other activities to build community among participants.
Speakman, a member of the student council, social justice committee and anti-bullying committee at Louis St. Laurent School, said she is going to use her new communication and negotiating skills to improve her school's environment.
"I would like to bring a more accepting, a more Christian environment into my school and this program has given me some of the tools I need to do it," she said.
Kaylen Chisholm, a 15-year-old community and school activist, band leader and assistant dance teacher from Okotoks, said she got a lot out of the conference.
"I learned how to be a proactive leader and how to bring more positive than negative into a group so everyone ends up being a winner," she said. "That's how Jesus would do it. Jesus would always try to do win-win (negotiating)."
Candace Maxwell, 16, one of eight participants from Winnipeg, said the conference gave her the skills to start a youth group at St. Paul Parish.
"I've learned quite a bit," she said. "I learned how to be proactive and how to lead discussions without making people upset."
Maxwell also learned how to talk to the leaders in her parish - the priest, the parish council - so they become more receptive to the needs of young people.
Kelsey Short, 18, a school and parish leader from Calgary, thought she knew everything there is to know about leadership until she attended the conference.
"A lot of the things that we learned this week I didn't even know that I needed to develop," she admitted, laughing. "Like we learned how to listen empathically. I didn't even know I wasn't doing that."
Short said the conference opened her eyes and "definitely" helped her to become a better youth leader.
"I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot of styles of leadership and stuff but I also learned that I am a strong leader, I just need work in some areas," she said.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.