By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
When Torrien Miles attended the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Christian Leadership Institute program last summer, he was conflicted in his belief about God and where he belonged in his church, he said.
“I was struggling with ‘what is God and who is God,’ ” said 17-year-old Miles who’s a member of Mary Queen of Peace Church. A year later, he said, his faith is stronger and he feels that he’s found his place. “CLI helped me to find myself.”
The Christian Leadership Institute, known as CLI, is designed for high school students who have completed their freshman, sophomore or junior years.
The five-day conference will take place this year from July 11 to 15. It includes workshops, prayer, team-building activities and planning practicums to foster leadership skills in a Christian context.
Sixteen-year-old Emily Schoenlaub described CLI as an “amazing” experience that helped her find “a closer relationship with God.”
“I learned so much about myself and my faith,” she said. “It was the highlight of my summer last year.”
Schoenlaub said her experience inspired her to start a youth group at St. Peter the Apostle Church where she’s a member. “It’s been great seeing other youth in my church become involved,” she said.
Brady Crawford, a 17-year-old who attends St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., said CLI was “life changing.” It was unlike any other retreat he’d attended before, he said, adding, “I’ve become more prayerful and the experience made me want to attend church more.”
Those five days, he said, helped him to realize his “gifts and talents” and the confidence and leadership skills he gained have paid off. Crawford said he now speaks to young people at retreats sponsored by his church.
Crawford, who attends a public high school, said he also feels more confident expressing his beliefs.
All three young people said their prayer life has been enriched by the experience. They encourage other young people to attend CLI because of the perspective they’ve gained on their faith and the friendships they made.
Applications are now being accepted. The cost is $300 for those who apply by June 17. From June 18 to July 1, the cost is $325.
The cost includes five days of lodging and meals. To apply, visit www.archlou.org/youth.