“There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

St. Pope John Paul II

You might not know that Catholic Leadership Institute’s first ten years was focused on helping young adults. While in terms of "impact metrics" that first decade might seem rather insignificant, for many, me especially, those early retreats on high ropes adventure courses were life changing. It wasn’t really until 2001 that we even first thought about serving priests and it wouldn’t be until 2006 that we would really launch our Good Leaders, Good Shepherds curriculum that has taken us to 100 different dioceses. I’ll never forget sitting in a meeting with the whole team at that time (a whopping 5 people). We were struggling to keep up with the demands of trying to serve both young adults and priests. It was clear to all of us that our service to priests was where we needed to go, but our hearts were so steeped in those ropes course experiences that had changed our lives. One colleague was almost in tears as it became clear what we were going to give up. "Who will do this if we don’t?" she asked. 

Fast forward to last week. I spoke to the missionaries and supporters of a Catholic youth summer camp, named Damascus, outside of Columbus, Ohio. I accepted the invitation months before, not knowing much about the place. As the Executive Director gave me a tour of their facilities on the 400+ acres where they welcome almost 10,000 youth a year, I couldn’t believe how dynamic it was. Young adult missionaries do everything from cook the meals, to clean the bathrooms, to form young campers’ hearts and minds. One of my last stops on the tour was their incredible high ropes course that can accommodate upwards of 60 people at one time! I asked the Executive Director, also named Dan, when they were founded – 2001. "But we became official in 2006." Dan said. Literally the same year God planted in our hearts a desire to start a new chapter of our ministry, He planted a seed some 7 hours away to have that ministry to young people taken up and grown in a way we could have never imagined. How often in leadership and life do I cling to something that I believe can only happen with me involved? How many opportunities am I missing in my service to the Lord because I can’t let go? How many blessings might come to the ministry I am trying to own if I would just give it back to God? The reality is, it was never our ministry to begin with. It is God’s. As one who was always terrified of those high ropes, I for one was glad that Dan and the team at Damascus are reaching new heights with me safely on the ground.

by Daniel Cellucci

October 28, 2019

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