By Alex Aguilera
This past summer, several Paul VI Catholic High School seniors had the unique opportunity to attend Salesian Leadership Camp in Brooklyn, Michigan. Nathan Revor, Michael Coritz, Kayla Vogel, and Joseph Rogowski traveled to the camp last June, along with dean of students Mr. Tom Opfer, with the goal of learning about the spiritual life of St. Francis de Sales and applying it to their daily lives.
Since that time, the group has worked to spread the tenets of Salesian spirituality that they learned with the larger PVI community.
Revor said the concept of “thin space,” a term used to describe a physical space where heaven and earth appear a bit closer than usual, has continued to resonate with him.
“You could really feel the [“thin space”]phenomena through all the other campers and the staff,” said Revor, who added that the daily prayers and speakers also encouraged participants to grow deeper in their faith.
When Paul VI Catholic High School was first established in 1983 by the Oblates of Saint Frances de Sales, with Rev. Donald Heet, O.S.F.S. was the founding principal. Rev. Heet was succeeded by Rev. Robert Mulligan, O.S.F.S. and Rev. Lyle as principal, all of which are of the Oblate order. However, due to personnel shortages, the Oblates were forced to leave well before the start of the 2000-2001 academic school year. Currently, there are no Oblate priests at Paul VI Catholic High School, yet the school still promotes Salesian virtues and values to this day.
At the Salesian Leadership Camp, current Oblates of St. Frances de Sales stay as part of their training for an extended period of time in order to create a positive faithful atmosphere for the high school campers. The Oblates led small groups, gave lectures concerning spirituality, and celebrated mass each day.
Once they arrived, the PVI group was accompanied by students from Ohio, Missouri, Delaware, and even the DC area.
Each day, campers began with a morning lecture and prayer services followed by a group discussion of faith and how they can implement the discussed topic into their everyday lives.
“SLC helped me to discover who I truly am, and how I can be myself without having to worry about how others think of me”, said Rogowski.
After the morning session, the students had the opportunity to take part in exciting summer camp activities. Campers could take part in things like swimming, volleyball, capture the flag, frisbee, and even bubble soccer! In addition, the campers were faced with an obstacle course. At the end of the course, they had to climb over a 16-foot wall, without the help of a rope or ladder.
“In the end, everyone made it,” said Rogowski. “Yes, even me, with a broken arm and cast on.”
The campers are hopeful their experience, and the spiritual life of St. Francis de Sales, will continue to resonate within the walls of PVI.