High School CLI: ‘joyfully serving each other and joyfully praising our Lord’

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE — “Being here put me back on the right track,” Jessica Sproch said of the diocesan Christian Leadership Institute for high school students. The 16-year-old member of Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood said she “really learned that God is everywhere.”

A record number of teens attended the CLI July 10-14 in rural Lexington County.

Daily activities included Scripture studies, small-group activities, sports, worship, prayer and workshops. The teens wrote and acted out skits and memorized verses of Scripture that related to each day’s spiritual theme.

The conference centered around Romans 12:2: “Do not conform yourself any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This verse was displayed prominently on a brightly colored banner in the gathering room.

“The focus this week has really been on that concept of not conforming to things that might not please God,” said Jerry White, director of the ministry, which has been offered in the diocese since 1997. “There were wonderful kids here, and the parishes ought to be proud that so many of their young people do desire to seek after Jesus.”

This year’s turnout of 130 high school students was the largest on record for the diocese, White said.

A similar meeting for junior high students was held in late June. Many teens who attend that event also return when they reach high school, he said.

Both campers and counselors were enthusiastic about the experience they had.

“The focus of the week was clearly prayer and growing closer to our Lord,” said Sarah Kraus, 20, a counselor and member of St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville.

“It was exciting to see how he was working in all of the week’s activities,” she said. “Both the campers and counselors were joyfully serving each other and joyfully praising our Lord.” Kraus attended CLI once as a camper and has been back three times as a counselor.

Teens who attended talked on the last day about friends they had made, and spiritual lessons they had learned.

“The music and the fellowship were my favorite things,” said Alex Bostick, 16, who attends Immaculate Conception church in Goose Creek. “We also learned a lot about discipline.”

John Horne, 19, a counselor with the E-team, said he is never surprised to see how much the annual CLI meetings help the young people who attend them. He said the best thing about the event was witnessing the spiritual outreach and sharing among the teens.

“This whole week, I’ve seen campers reaching out to other campers without being prompted,” Horne said. “It’s truly amazing to see what God can do and how he can truly move in these young people’s lives — it’s indescribable.”