St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic High School students participated in this year’s Catholic Leadership Encounter (CLE). The intensive workshop was held at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado, May 28 through June 6.
CLE focuses on servant leadership, encouraging and enabling students to embrace their God-given gifts while recognizing and meeting the needs of their community. Major components of the encounter include workshops on servant leadership, discovering personal strengths, solidarity and social justice, effective communication, decision-making and answering God’s call.
An all-time high 41 SJA students participated in this year’s CLE experience.
The itinerary including prayer, mass and the sacraments. Participants enjoyed hiking, time in the Rocky Mountains, challenges that called them to leadership and activities in a variety of categories, including social justice and servant leadership.
Jade Spears, assistant campus minister and service coordinator, was among the chaperones who accompanied the students. “I hope they were able to grow in relationship with God, with each other and experience the love and mercy that awaits each of us in nature,” she said. “The beauty of nature and the beauty within each other are so beautifully mirrored in the Rocky Mountains. It was a joy to begin the summer by watching our students become young women for others who are ready to take on everything God has in store for them.”
Rising senior Shobe Manuel said the nine-day encounter allowed her to grow closer to God and to grow as a person. “It was a great experience as we had morning and night prayers, hiked in the Rocky Mountains and bonded with our small groups through team-building activities,” she said. “For me, the most meaningful part of CLE was hiking to the top of Bible Point and having mass together on the edge of a cliff. It truly highlighted the universal aspect of our Catholic faith.”
Rising junior Anna Kathryn White said the experience was deeply meaningful. “I learned a lot from people watching,” she said. “Every activity with my small group was special. They are like another family. Activities opened my eyes to what humans just like you and me go through. I am grateful for how my faith was strengthened through CLE.”
Spears was joined by chaperones Tim LaBauve and Christi Schott, theology faculty members, and alumnae Claire Gonsoulin ’17, Ainsley Sonnier ’17, Eden Landry ’19, Lacey LeBlanc Ellis ’96 and Jordan Mathis ’20.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt