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Youth Gather to Learn Christ-Centered Leadership

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On June 22, 2011, the Most Reverend Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for those attending the Faithful Servant Catholic Leadership Institute: A Christ Centered Leadership Experience. The five-day retreat, held this year at Short Journey Retreat Center in Smithfield, NC, is an annual event for high school youth organized in collaboration with the Diocese of Charlotte.

Each year, the Diocesan Advisory Council of the Diocese of Charlotte, directed by Paul Kotowski, and the Diocesan Youth Board of Raleigh, directed by Patrick Deiner, sponsor a retreat to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. The Dioceses have hosted the retreat for the past 17 years, alternating locations each year.

Through hands-on learning, youth develop skills to help them discern what it means to be a Catholic, Christ-centered leader. The participants are then charged to apply their new skills in their families, parishes and communities. Sixty-five youth participated this year. “It was wonderful to see this group of teens blossoming into leaders,” said Patrick Deiner. “They were using their new-found strengths and discovering ways to give back to the Church.”

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge described great leaders as protectors, communicators and healers, like the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. He said, “Saint Michael is the great protector, so protect your friends from evil. Saint Gabriel is the communicator, so communicate using God’s Word.” The Bishop continued, “Saint Raphael is the healer; so find that one person who is off to the side and bring him into the group; be a healing presence to others.”

After Mass, Bishop Burbidge conducted an open question-and-answer session with the group on topics ranging from characteristics of leadership to how the Bishop arrived at his vocation to the priesthood.