Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 17, 2002
Young people hear Christ's call
John Paul II Bible School enrollement numbers soar
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
As more young people hear Jesus knocking at their door, they turn to Bible school as a way of opening that door and inviting Christ into their lives.
And this delights John Paul II Bible school director Ernest Chauvet.
"The youth are way more open to God. They wanted to give God the chance to work in their life."
Enrolment numbers document the truth. Forty-five are graduating from the first year, 15 from the second year and 55 are already applying to enter the school this fall.
Last year at this time, the school only had 16 applicants for first year.
With the influx of students, they are planning to open a new campus in Hinton as the facilities in Radway can only accommodate 45 students.
In order for them to operate a new school in a new site, they need to have at least 60 approved students for the fall semester.
Chauvet believes their reality-based teaching - presenting Christianity and the Church to their students in a practical manner - appeals to the students.
"What the Church teaches and what can be found in the scriptures apply to daily life. It's not just theoretical. It's lived."
Chauvet is hoping that the coming World Youth Day will provide opportunities for them to invite more young people.
For Marc Letourneau, the year-long program wasn't easy. "But I would say it was necessary for me to be here just because of where I was at in my life. I felt that I wasn't going anywhere. I had no direction and I was really becoming offensive against my faith."
Before coming to the Bible school, the 21-year-old was living in Fort McMurray working in oil refinery plants. The situation didn't lend towards his faith and he was led astray for a good three years.
"I came here willing and open to let God do what he wants in my life," he told the WCR.
The worst struggle he had was the five weeks of outreach in Western Canada. But he also had the most spiritual growth during that time. Going to different parishes and schools meant he had to constantly adapt to circumstances.
"The call of God in different circumstance is of prime importance. I feel I'm ready to go back to the world, not so much to evangelize through words, but just to live a Christian life by example."
Crystal Chupka put her studies to become a nurse on hold when her brother had an accident. The situation gave her the chance to consider a year at the Bible school, where her brother Murray Chupka was a student.
"I came here willing and open to let God do what he wants in my life."
- Marc Letourneau
"It's the hardest time, but the best year of your life. Probably more so for me. I never intended really to come here. I was so incredibly grateful and I feel so incredibly blessed to have this experience."
Chupka had thought she was a Catholic Christian. Having attended the Bible school, she learned how to make her faith personal and real.
"It's not just learning about it. But it's actually living it. You learn so much about having a prayer life and you see what difference it makes. I would say that my faith grew phenomenally."
This year, the second year program had four people placed in the parishes involved in youth ministry. They now have parishes on the waiting list for a second year student to help start a youth group.
Amy Shier, 21, finished her second year program by working with the youths in Lloydminster.
"Getting to work with youth is really amazing. The youths in Lloydminster have such love for the Lord and all the young people. It was just amazing to be able to help them grow and help them become closer to God and to each other."
What she learned from the Bible school helped in the parish setting.
Although intended for lay people, the programs at JP II are similar to what people used to have in the different religious orders. This is a year of formation for young adults, for lay people prior to going out into the world pursuing ministry.
Rachad Khadij, 25 seminarian at Companions of the Cross in Ottawa, is an alumnus of the school.
"Once I've felt that I was being called towards the priesthood, I found a lot of support from the community.
Today, there are six alumni of the school who joined different seminaries.