Story by Todd Brechbill
On a recent trip to Ontario, Canada, I had the privilege to visit several of the Conquest and Challenge groups in the area. I was invited to visit the St. Bernadette groups in Ajax, Ontario for their special awards night. The Conquest leader, Tim Hayes, gave me a warm reception and introduced me to a group of generous dads that help regularly with the program.
The group was finishing up their self-discipline virtue campaign, and I was honored to be invited to speak to the boys about how they can live the virtue of self-discipline each and every day. I asked the group of around 25 boys lots of questions about that particular virtue, and they responded with the correct answer every time! The dad leaders are top notch and doing an incredible job of teaching the boys, all in a fun and dynamic atmosphere.
I was also able to meet Linda Harlock, who leads the Challenge program at the parish. The boys and girls meet separately, but on the same night each week and at the same time, which is very convenient for families. I met many other generous moms as well who help with the girls youth group. The girls all seem to love participating in Challenge, and at the end of their meeting, they all made their way to the gym to support their brothers in Conquest for their special awards night ceremony.
The tension was high, as the leaders announced the 4th place squad, third place and finally the winner! The excitement of the boys and families was incredible and quite a sight to see. Typically during awards night, the dads all line up to shake the hands of each squad member, congratulating them for conquering the virtue campaign. The St. Bernadette group not only invites the dads, but all of the families to participate, including moms and siblings as well! I think the boys enjoyed this more than their award / prize that they received! It was inspiring to see all these boys, soon to be young men, motivated and encouraged by so many. It was truly a blessing to be a part of this group on that special evening.
After the activities, all the dad leaders met at the Bella Notte Ristorante in Whitby, Ontario. The owner, Michael Guzzo, is also a Conquest dad and served up some scrumptious Italian food and coffee for our late dinner. The meeting was to discuss the club with Fr. Thomas Murphy, LC who is the regional Conquest director of the area. It was beautiful to hear stories about the boys, families and how Conquest has been so effective. The main discussion topic was about future planning, structure, and continuing to grow Conquest at the parish.
I want to personally thank all of the generous leaders who sacrifice to make Conquest and Challenge possible each week for the boys and girls at St. Bernadette. The seeds planted now in these youth will blossom throughout their entire lives.