Impressions of CLI 

A Reflection on CLI

by Renee Bernier '06 

As I found myself sitting among these extraordinary people, I was amazed at who I was looking at. They were people not much more different than myself, called here for the same reason that I was, possessing the singular trait that makes us vital to today’s world in spiritual, physical, and emotional means: Leadership. This leadership gives us the power to take the initiative to, as we learned, be a light for Christ in the world.

When we arrived on Day 1, our individual strengths were challenged and forced to be put aside as we learned the first steps in acting as a team. Too quickly we learned that acting as an individual in a group of four or five would affect our team progress, and slowly everyone began to adjust and grow comfortable with one another. Day 2 forced us to work as teams, both large and small through communication skills. It wasn’t long after using our body language, posture, and emotions appropriately with each other that we were finally at a new comfort level, and we no longer felt the forced feeling of teamwork, the unknown pressures of new people. As Day 3 arrived, we were already saying how we didn’t want to return home, and were watching the clock for our break time so that we could all be together. We all learned a lot about ourselves on Day 3 and whether we realized that at the time and choose to utilize it everyday, is a personal decision. We learned that our values are what we need to stand up for in life because they make us our individual selves, and that how we treat others around us will bring us to lead them to an understanding of their own values, their own wants, but more importantly their own needs to be proud of. During Day 4 our teams learned the value of seeking a consensus among a group concerning the significance of material things and personal opinion in the average teenager’s life, and then seeing the relation to our own. I believe that the activities surrounding consensus seeking really allowed the members of each team to discuss their own opinions and them learn how to conform them into a general idea in order to succeed in the task at hand. But as this was going on, learning of other’s goals and ideas, a greater plan was being fulfilled: we were all learning more about each other. We were gaining a greater sense for those around us, coming to appreciate new thoughts, looking at things in a different light. Unknowing, we were being set up for a much greater task. Later on in the day it was our jobs as teams to complete an obstacle course through a series of challenges. Simple, right? Not so simple. Throughout our time at CLI our team leaders had been observing us carefully, noting each team member’s personal strength in leadership, be it a verbal, visual, or physical approach, and when it came time to complete the obstacle course, each of our devices of communication most essential to our own needs, was taken away. As a result we were forced to communicate creatively and supportively in how we lead our teams. For some, this was easier than others, only teaching us the greater lesson of significance of reliability and communication from the beginning. Therefore, when the sun rose on Day 5, and the showers started up, and breakfast was being eaten, the existence of a new level of support and encouragement was mastered by having a greater understanding for the gifts that we all possess and through that day of planning one of our last projects as teams we realized that we needed to share these gifts with the world. Finally, through our affirmations of one another, we knew how truly fortunate we were that our new friends had shared theirs with us.

CLI Evening 3

Personally, CLI was not only a process for me, but a journey, where I discovered the reason that I was really included. I was a part CLI for more than leadership skills, or team planning. I was a part of CLI to gain friendships that I would find in the faces of those who were unfamiliar to me at the beginning of the week. These people were now the same people that I had met at the beginning of the week only they had all changed. They were better people for learning how to be a leader in our world of many struggles. I was a part of CLI to meet adults who I would come to recognize as friends in faith, those who inspire, and those who we set our leadership by. I was a part of CLI to renew my faith and prove to the Lord that I can share my gifts, leadership related or personal, with those around me in order to make a positive impact and be a light in the world for Him and those around me. Most importantly, I was a part of CLI because it was God’s will for me to meet each and every one of my new friends and be touched by them through their own gifts to the world. It is when each of us individually shows their true colors, that we as a team can shine our lights in the world for Christ. I will continue to support my new family in faith through leading them to be the best they can be through newfound friendship and memories.

(C) Diocese of Fall River, Ma