Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 13, 2005
Bible school grads, staff move on
Principals, teachers take new paths
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
When Ernie Chauvet met with then St. Paul Bishop Raymond Roy more than 20 years ago, he read a statement he had prepared about an idea that struck him. Chauvet thought the rustic town of Radway some 80 km northeast of Edmonton would make a perfect setting for a Bible school.
John Paul II Bible School was to invite adults who see Jesus as the light of the world, to come and spend a year immersed in the word of God, prayer and community life, renewed in the Spirit to go forth to touch a hurting world, with the love of God our Father, he read.
Chauvet spent a moment recently to take another look at the document he brought that day. "I was surprised that after 20 years, how close we still are to that mission statement," Chauvet said in an interview.
Like father, like son
Chauvet stood a little more proud than usual June 5 as some 45 graduates, including his son Jean Marc, said goodbye to their home of the last year.
He was watching the school's graduation as its director for the last time.
"They are strongly committed to God and the Church and that is what it is all about. They are leaders and they will make a huge impact maybe 10 years down the road," Chauvet said. "It's like mission accomplished. I just feel good."
After spending most of the past 20 years involved with JPII - the last nine as director - Chauvet is moving on. He is returning the reins to former director Kilian O'Donovan.
"The process has improved over the years. I think this year was our best program ever," Chauvet said, emphasizing that forming and educating the students at the school is always a team effort.
The team will experience its own changes as associate directors Lorretta Hopegood and John Connelly are leaving. Hopegood will take a sabbatical in Kelowna, while Connelly will start the Sacred Mission Ministry Association in Hinton.
"I had a certain role, but the team creates the atmosphere," Chauvet said. "I was just grateful I had a chance to serve."
As witnessed by several graduates who spoke to the WCR, Chauvet's vision to form and renew youth is as vibrant as it has ever been.
Angela Krol had her own relationship with Jesus, but spending a year in Radway defined that relationship and left her exhilarated.
"We really dove into the sacraments and Scripture - everything the Catholic Church stands for. It was amazing," said Krol, 21, from Spirit River. She will return next year as the women's dorm coordinator.
"When we came, a lot of us were broken and unsure of ourselves. We were not able to embrace our talents and individuality," she continued. "When I connected myself with Jesus, it is amazing how I value myself. . . . Life changes when you have God on your mind."
Ruth Bennett found some moments in community to be difficult. But the 18-year-old from Powell River, B.C., said the challenges only made her stronger.
"My year was amazing and difficult. But it was great because I went through a lot of growing. There are a lot of trials in community life, but it helped me grow even more. I am alive," she said.
Bennett chose Radway over film school. Now she plans to use all of her talents in ministry.
"I am so glad I came here. Now, I would love to do youth ministry and to spread the news through film."
A teacher's child can receive more razzing than other students, but Jean Marc Chauvet felt nothing but amazement all year.
"It was awesome. I feel blessed," said Chauvet, 19.
"Before I came to the Bible school, I didn't really know too much. I feel a change in me because I have a love for everybody and no resentments," said Chauvet, who will attend NAIT this year to become a personal fitness trainer.
"Our faith is so rich. Now that I know what my faith is about, I feel 100 times better."
Sister led the way
Daniel Murphy was swayed by sibling influence. The 18-year-old from Bawlf said his older sister convinced him to come.
"My sister was a student here last year. It helped her grow in her faith. Same for me," he said.
He will move into St. Joseph's College at the U of A in the fall as a first-year engineering student.
"I'll be with other people of the same faith," he said, adding that he hopes to attend a Bible study group.
Leanne Sebastian arrived from Moose Jaw without having been involved with anything like JPII.
"I have to say I have never experienced so much love in my life," said Sebastian, 21.
Sebastian said she plans to dedicate the next year giving back to the Church. She hopes to eventually minister through a chastity or purity team in Western Canada.
"We could go to high schools and youth rallies to spread God's message."
Sebastian warns against society's pressure to get a degree; find a job and a mate; have a family, buy a car and so on.
"When I came here, that is what I was thinking. Now I know we need to put God first to find out who we are before we make those kinds of decisions."
Mission accomplished, indeed.
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