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 25 through June 3.
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.
Activities included hiking, night prayer and meditation, ropes courses, a bonfire social, adoration and confession, nature reflections, outdoor mass and a candlelight affirmation prayer.
Leisure activities included a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, where students hiked around Lake Sprague, quiet reflection around Dorsey Lake and a late-night star gaze.
Junior Sarah Harris said the experience was outstanding. “It was filled with new landscapes, new people and new experiences,” she said. “None of us knew what to expect, and the staff kept telling us to ‘trust the process.’ The phrase was used so often it became an inside joke among all of us. Little things like that brought us together and made leaving so much more difficult. Not having our phones also allowed us to bond on a deeper level. I miss CLE very much.”
Junior Grace Gonzales said CLE was the best week of her life. She said she was nervous before departing, but the experience exceeded all expectations. “I met so many amazing people, and I grew extremely close to God,” she said. “What made the week the most memorable was all of the people. The staff was so amazing, and you could tell that they truly loved each and every one of us. The other students on the trip made the week so amazing because they were all so open and loving. I saw the beauty and love in every person, and I felt so comfortable with everyone because I knew that they loved me, too. I genuinely love each person who was on CLE, and I now have the best CLE family I could ever ask for. CLE was the most beautiful, empowering and amazing experience, and I am so thankful that I was able to go.”
Junior Hallie Rivet said she enjoyed every second of the week and would go back every year if she could. “I grew so much within myself as well as in my faith,” she said. “I got to experience God not only through nature and the magnificent mountains, but through all the new friends I made and people I met. It was so much fun, and it made such a strong impact on my life.”
Junior Jennie Holder said her time in Estes Park was transformative. “I got to see God in every single person and grow closer to God in the mountains,” she said. “I am so thankful for all the friends I met and the activities that allowed me to increase my leadership skills and grow closer to God.”
SJA chaperones were theology faculty member Timothy LaBauve and his wife, Meghan McCann LaBauve, and Custodial Supervisor Lena McGee. Alumnae staff members were Ava Landry ’16, Margaret Jumonville ’07 and Claire Gonsoulin ’17.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt