Catholic School of Evangelization passes on Catholic heritage

By  Sophie Freynet, Youth Speak News
  • July 3, 2007
{mosimage}ST. MALO, Man. - Talitha Lemoine was an average 12-year-old Catholic, becoming disinterested in Mass, when she first heard about the Catholic School of Evangelization (CSE) in St. Malo. She attended several summer and winter camps there, before eventually becoming a counsellor.
“I am a product of the CSE,” said Lemoine, 25, a full-time missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach, a university campus evangelization movement, at the University of Saskatchewan.

Founded by Gilbert Vielfaure, the Catholic School of Evangelization first opened its doors in 1992. Since then, the bilingual school has worked under the direction of the archdiocese of St. Boniface in Manitoba.

Today, led by director Chad Vincent, the CSE reaches hundreds of youth each year through its various programs, summer and winter camps and a discipleship formation program.

The CSE teaches the value of Catholic heritage and developing a personal relationship with Christ.

Lemoine was touched by her first experience with the CSE during a winter camp.

“It was the first time it clicked that God loved me for me... that He loved me unconditionally,” said Lemoine. “There I met other youth who lived out their faith and I was encouraged.”

The summer and winter camps are the most popular ministry at the CSE. These bring nearly 500 youth to the school every year. Activities range from taking part in skits and praise and worship to swimming at St. Malo Beach.

Hélène Jeanson became a camp counsellor at 14.

“Becoming a counsellor helped me to discover my faith in a personal way and to gain a better understanding of why I was (brought up Catholic),” she said.

 This year Jeanson is a student in the 10-month discipleship formation program that runs from September to June, hosting eight to 12 live-in students yearly. The program consists of life in community, participatory courses and activities of service. The students learn how to play music and develop public speaking skills. In the last month students do outreach in schools throughout the province and on native reserves in northern Manitoba.

“This is a chance for the students to put into practice everything they’ve learned throughout the year,” said Vincent.

{sidebar id=2}Furthermore, Vincent said many people have found their vocation because of their experience with CSE. While several men have considered the priesthood, a few friendships have evolved into marriages. Today, many graduates of the discipleship program work in youth ministry or have started music ministries.

“The formation we offer helps to build leaders for the church,” said Vincent. “We don’t simply form people for our needs, but for the church as a whole.”

“The CSE has been a huge gift to the church in Manitoba,” said Lemoine. “If you look at the youth who are involved in our parishes and helping out, many of them have gone through the CSE, through their summer camp programs or have had a link with the CSE.”

The CSE attracts youth from across the province and the country. Paul Sanders graduated from the discipleship formation program before moving back home to London, Ont., where he now works in parish-based youth ministry.

“The experience at the CSE has prepared me for whatever the Lord calls me to do. Today, I feel eager to see where the Lord takes me,” said Sanders.

Aside from its main programming CSE provides citywide programs in Winnipeg which include a monthly youth music ministry called JOLT (Jesus Our Lord Today) and Holy Family Ministry, which rallies families in the St. Boniface archdiocese to take part in a wide range of activities for all ages.

Vincent envisions CSE expanding in the future.

“We plan to build an addition to the school to accommodate more people. The CSE is growing and we believe that it will continue to grow.”

(Freynet studies international development and globalization at the University of Ottawa.)

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