Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 1, 2009
Young girls become Catholic leaders
Spruce Grove-Stony Plain teens accept challenge to be transformed into Christ's image
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Tara Kozdrowski and her family are competitive skiers. She is also the president of Challenge, a girls club at Holy Trinity Parish, serving Spruce Grove and Stony Plain.
Two of her three daughters are in the club. One daughter, Sydney, showing an indication of how much she values Challenge, opted out of skiing this year so she could dedicate more time to being a team leader.
"I don't think it's a bad thing for your daughter to come and say she'd like to go to Reconciliation on a regular basis instead of going skiing," said Kozdrowski. "I was really touched by that, my daughter asking to go to Reconciliation on a Saturday night, whereas lots of parents are dealing with other issues."
The mission of Challenge is to evangelize and transform girls aged 10 to 16 to give their very best to others so that Christian culture will prevail in the hearts of everyone they meet.
Challenge helps girls grow in virtue, friendship and their Catholic faith. It's a place for girls to learn about themselves by doing apostolic projects and creating a positive impact on family, friends and the world.
The Spruce Grove-Stony Plain group currently has 50 registered members striving to develop their apostolic skills.
CHALLENGE THE WORLD!
Staying true to their motto - "Challenge yourself, challenge others, challenge the world!" - the girls have performed apostolic projects such as making rosaries, food bank drives, mall missions, roadside cleanup, and visits to the inner-city Mustard Seed Church and seniors lodges.
Through activities such as sports, dances and watching movies, the girls build friendships with others who share their faith. As well, the girls are offered retreats, workshops and summer camps, both locally and abroad.
"Two of our girls went to Michigan last summer and it was an international convention. They were the only two Canadians there. They went for training and brought back a world of resources, eager to spread their knowledge and came back on fire, so to speak," said Kozdrowski.
The boys have a similar group called Conquest. Older teens are active in the Catholic high schools with Life Teen.
Along with Pure Fashion, a character formation program, more than 200 young people are involved in the parish's various youth programs.
Until this past fall, the girls club met at the parish, but operated as an outside entity, apart from the parish programs.
However, youth minister Mike Landry agreed to take Challenge under the parish's wing and combine it with an existing junior high school youth program.
"There's no shortage of work to do in youth ministry. Sharing our strengths has been the big advantage because they have had a very fruitful program, especially some girls who are my core members.
"They have been through the youth program and speak highly of it," said Landry.
Now Challenge works in tandem with the parish's youth ministry, Evergreen School Division and several volunteer parents.
There are nine team leaders, all high school youths, who Kozdrowski described as the "main ingredient" of the girls club.
Landry, who does formation work with the team leaders, agreed.
PRAYERFUL YOUNG WOMEN
"In some of the team leaders, you've got some confident, very prayerful young women, and at least one of them is discerning a religious vocation. That is one of the greatest rewards of any youth ministry - you've got young people who are asking, 'God, what do you want me to do with my life?'"
Kozdrowski said a community this size is lucky to have one spiritual mentor, but the Spruce Grove-Stony Plain group has five or six.
"Recently we had a Devon group sprout off from ours, so we had 10 girls leave the group this year and start their own group in Devon. It's a good thing because it means growth is happening. They were travelling to us every week, and it was difficult for them to make it here," said Kozdrowski.
Deciding to form another club in Devon was the idea of team leader Karleen Rhodes, 17, who has been attending at Holy Trinity for about six years. She said it was God's timing to start a club in Devon, where she resides.
"It forms young girls into Catholic leaders. I was learning how to use virtues through the Gospels in my everyday life and with my friends and stuff," said Rhodes.
GROWING IN FAITH
Taya Meads, 16, said that there's a lot to be learned from being part of Challenge.
"As a team leader, I can help the girls and form them because you see that you used to be that type of person. Using what you've learned, you can help them grow and share your experiences with them," she said.
"It also helps me grow in my faith and see how much you can change somebody's life just by volunteering and giving your time, helping others."
The girls discuss a different virtue every week and learn a new apostolate every month. While the girls are usually divided into groups by age, the younger ones appreciate time with their older peers.
"The older girls, we really ask them to set a good example for the younger girls. If you ask the girls, they always want more time with everybody together because the younger ones really look up to the older ones," said Meads.
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.