Paul VI students inspired at Salesian Leadership Camp

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Back from a recent weeklong Salesian Leadership Camp on Lake Vineyard in Brooklyn, Mich., Paul VI Catholic High School student leaders Laine Davison, Andrea Mueller, Peter Braun and Margaret Cornejo shared their life-changing experience. The students - all members of Paul VI's student government or student ambassadors - were accompanied by Eileen Hanley, assistant principal for admissions and student life, and Katie Tinsley, director of student life.

At the camp, the Oblates presented talks that focused on the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and how they apply to being a leader. Each day started with morning prayer, was followed by afternoon Mass and concluded with evening prayer. The prayers and Masses were planned by the campers.

During the week, the students grew in their faith, gained valuable leadership skills and met students from across the country. They also enjoyed a variety of team-building activities including a challenge course, a scavenger hunt and relays. Campers also went boating and tubing.

They all agreed that the camp was transformative.

"Coming together with leaders from other schools that practice the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal like PVI was not only fascinating, but exciting," said Davison. We were all so different, yet so similar. My fellow campers' enthusiasm about our faith is what helped me to grow closer to God. We encouraged each other to step out of our comfort zones, and 'participate not anticipate.' Living in the present moment can change your life forever."

Mueller also came back changed from the experience. "The difference between Salesian Leadership Camp and other camps is that it gives you more than just memories, it gives you a way to live your life and that is not something that can be easily forgotten," she said. Saint Francis de Sales once said, 'Be who you are and be that well.' This quote really resonates with me because the only way we can be the best version of ourselves is by being the person God made us to be. Once you understand that, you realize that following Jesus is the only thing that will make you happy. I plan to bring Salesian spirituality back to PVI and everyone I meet."

Cornejo came away with an increased appreciation for prayer. "We were taught about St. Francis de Sales' form of prayer and how we can introduce that to students at PVI - the Direction of Intention," she said. At PVI, we say it at the beginning of each day and each class. It helps us call to mind God's presence and center in on our goals for the day.".

"Another focus was our call to live out the Salesian now - reminding ourselves that this present moment is good and the people that surround us are good," Cornejo said. "As leaders, we learned to accept that even though the past may be over, the future is not yet written - a future in which we are called to live out the motto of Paul VI Catholic High School - as said by St. Francis de Sales - 'to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.'"

Welcoming the newest Panthers

Each year, upperclassmen from student government and student ambassadors run Freshmen Fun Days filled with activities to introduce new students to Paul VI. This year, members of the class of 2020 played games to help them meet their classmates and share information in a fun and interactive way. Games and activities included the Human Knot, a scavenger hunt and a tour of the school. This year about 175 members of the Class of 2020 attended.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016