Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 28, 2009
Where do our youth go to draw closer to the Lord?
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
Five years ago, I was living in the suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand, a single mother of two children, Georgia and Mike, then 11 and nine years. Through a series of interlinked, Holy Spirit events, I packed up my entire house, closed down all my business affairs and with my two children in tow plus suitcase, guitar and skis, I embarked on a plane bound for Radway and John Paul II Charismatic Bible School.
I could not have known at that time, the journey for which the Lord was preparing me. He is full of surprises.
You never know what is round the corner.
My year at JPII 2005-06 was an important and profound year. I had come to Radway with a deep love for the Lord, but I had many questions. I was not even sure that I wanted to be Catholic.
In particular, I was critical of the lack of support for our youth. That issue really burned on my heart. My children had started to resist going to Mass and there seemed to be nothing much else on offer in my parish or the wider area in which I lived.
I envied the youth groups, camps and activities that were on offer by our Protestant brothers and sisters.
Within weeks, JPII had sorted me out. I could clearly see that my Catholic faith had the Truth, capital "T" - something that I was passionately interested in. Since then, I have come to cherish and love my faith and the Church and to see what a wonderful treasure it is. Too bad we keep it such a secret.
After graduating from JPII, I went with my two children to Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, to study for a master's in theology and Christian ministry. I have just completed that degree.
Next March I will attend a nine-month post-graduate course in Auckland to qualify to teach in our high school system in New Zealand. The following year, I hope to have an influence on our young teenagers in our school system and introduce them to the Lord.
Why do I share this with you? Because it all started with the formation I received at JPII. Thank God, that in the year 2005-06, JPII was open for business and that I had heard about it. Thank God, I recognized God's nudge to travel to Radway.
While JPII has now closed its doors after 25 years of faithful ministry, the Lord has not left us in the lurch. JPII has spawned a child. In Auckland, for the past three years we have had the Catholic Discipleship College (www.cdc.ac.nz), CDC for short. It was inspired by JPII and is closely modelled on it.
Now, here's the thing - where do our youth go if they want to grow closer to the Lord? Where are our trained youth ministers going to come from? Where are our future labourers in the vineyard going to get hands-on formation and become close disciples of the Lord?
Here, I emphasize the word "disciple." Without schools such as this, we have a gaping hole in our fishing net. We are losing hoards of our young people, who learn about Jesus in our Catholic high schools, but often never actually meet him. My heart weeps for them.
The bold truth - we have an enormous crisis facing our youth and our Church. We desperately need schools such as this - and more than one - planted throughout the world. It is my prayer and vision that from the parent JPII, to the child CDC, an entire generation of "grandchildren" schools might flow - a network of schools forming passionate disciples of Our Lord, living and sharing the Gospel to our hurting world.
HEARTS AND HANDS
The Holy Spirit is ready and waiting to use willing hearts and hands. These same kids who are JPII and CDC graduates, may well be the ones who will reach out and evangelize your children and mine, our grandchildren, nieces, nephews, our friends - those who have not yet caught the faith, those whom we pray for daily. Let's seize the opportunity.
Allow me to give you a quick run down of CDC. First, CDC has exceptional trustees and a hands-on board of management. This board must first authorize all decisions. It is professionally run.
Second, we have the full and enthusiastic support of our diocesan bishop and the bishops of New Zealand.
Third, the school has been extraordinarily fruitful in its three short years. Of the 21 graduates to date, we have one seminarian, one in religious novitiate in the Philippines, one woman applying for religious life and two considering it, one marriage of two graduates, several youth leaders and a full-time Christian iconographer.
Here's the problem. Two weeks after my arrival in Edmonton on Nov. 1, I received an SOS email from the director of CDC - a Marist priest, Father Neil Vaney. He said there is good news and bad news. The good news: "We have some outstanding, high calibre students enrolled for this February."
The bad news: "All charitable trusts are way down in their donations, many under half. So if you can find or talk to anyone with a will to contribute in Canada or the USA please do so."
Four of the registrants due to start this February are Canadian. Each year we have trained Canadian students and they have returned home to Canada to your own mission fields.
While I have no official connection with the college, I am praying that you may be able to rally behind this good work. It takes $280,000 each year to run the school. We are short by $140,000, which in Canadian dollars is around $108,000.
I cannot promise a tax receipt at this point. I have been trying to sort this out and a group is currently discerning whether it is able to channel funds to us and so enable the giving of a tax receipt.
From a practical point of view, may I suggest a personal cheque be written to the Catholic Discipleship College Charitable Trust Account. If the tax receipt issue falls into place, I can contact you and arrange for that.
(Christine Bell can be reached until Jan. 18 at 7608-92 Ave., Edmonton T6C 1R4. Phone: 780-465-7795.)
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