When President James Dlugos welcomed 80 high school aged teenagers and parish youth ministers to Saint Joseph’s College’s lakeshore campus for their weeklong leadership retreat, he shared that “As Maine’s only Catholic liberal arts college, we have enjoyed a long tradition of graduating leaders who make a positive impact on their communities. That makes our campus a fitting place for this leadership development program to take place. We were happy to host it.”
E.P.I.C. (“Empowering Young People in Christ”) was offered from July 24-28 by the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation. Clay Immo, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, who served as one of the facilitators, said “The whole week was about empowering them and training them to make a difference in their parishes, their schools, and their communities. It was empowering them by training them with certain practical skills, such as communications skills, facilitation skills, negotiation skills, and how to learn and how to lead through their giftedness, through their charisms, using Jesus as an example as the ultimate leader.”
Comments from retreat participants suggest that the program was successful. Abby Riva, age 17, from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor said, “E.P.I.C. is just giving you the tools to go out and really be a leader. It gave me the opportunity to use the tools that I learned, and it was just really powerful.”
Hallie Pike, age 16, from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay said, “I definitely learned how to be a more proactive leader and learned how to lead a group in a way that you’re not overpowering the group, but you’re listening, you’re communicating with the group. You are hearing what other people have to say and taking that into consideration, taking it into action.”
The Office of Admissions led the participants on a tour of campus. Associate Director Jen Veino said, “They loved seeing our location by the lake. Many of them would be perfect applicants to attend college with us. Their desire to serve their community would make them ideal Saint Joseph’s College students.”
Members of the campus community joined together with the retreat participants in celebrating a closing Mass with Bishop Deeley.
[E.P.I.C. quotes courtesy of the Diocese of Portland]