Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 21, 2008
John Paul II Bible School to begin its 25th year
By ROD STAFFORD-MAYER
Special to the WCR
With the start of a new school term this September, the John Paul II Bible School in Radway will celebrate its 25th year of operation.
Established in 1984 through a partnership between former St. Paul Bishop Raymond Roy and the Alberta Charismatic Renewal, the school has graduated close to 1,000 students during its previous 24 years.
"There have been some vocations to the priesthood and religious life," said current director Kilian O'Donovan, "as well as many, many strong stable married couples who today are raising good Catholic families who will be the next generation for the Church."
The school will open its 2008-09 term in September with a hoped for enrollment of 20 to 25, "which is the ideal number to form a harmonious community," said O'Donovan.
"If you get much larger than 35, it becomes more difficult for the community to bond together," he said. Traditionally enrollment fills up over the summer.
For two years in the past, enrollment was more than 60 students, forcing the administration to open a second campus at The Way of Holiness Retreat House near Hinton.
But operating two campuses placed a number of additional strains on the community and the administration.
As well, for three years the school operated a full-time travelling outreach team known as Youth on Fire that would visit schools and parishes for retreats.
Although Youth on Fire no longer operates, much of its work is being carried on by Leap Ministries staffed by former graduates of John Paul II Bible School.
Novitiate for laity
"In many ways this school is a novitiate for lay life in the Catholic Church," said O'Donovan. "Our job is to form young people in their faith, help them build a relationship with Jesus Christ and prepare them to be effective examples in their own communities.
"We do this through building community, steeping them in a committed prayer life and building their knowledge of the faith through strong, Catholic teaching," he said.
Each week students receive teaching from a variety of instructors including bishops, priests, and Catholic lay evangelists. There is also the opportunity for prayer journey and for daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, weekly Mass and Reconciliation.
"The school has a number of dedicated people whose job it is to meet regularly with students for prayer," said O'Donovan. "When the students leave the school each June they are steeped in a life of prayer."
At the recent Catholic Family Life conference at Lac Ste. Anne, former graduates were front and centre helping with music and in ministry to youth.
"There is no question that the John Paul II Bible School has in the past and will in the future continue to produce good fruit for the Church," said O'Donovan. "Now it is up to the Holy Spirit to bring forward those he wants to enter into formation."
The school term in Radway starts Sept. 1.