Intentional living

Young Catholics in archdiocese find their faith deeply nurtured at St. Therese Institute

By Kyle Greenham
Northern Light

After graduating high school three years ago, Emily Bourke was uncertain of what path her life should take.

She had competing thoughts – to either go to university or to follow in the footsteps of her older siblings and spend a year at the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, Saskatchewan. When the Spirit River girl finally decided to go to St. Therese, she figured it would be a one-time experience before heading off to university and the so-called “real world”.

However, the experience ended up affecting her so deeply and profoundly, Emily is now going back for her third year at St. Therese this fall.

Looking back, Bourke had no idea that decision was bound to become a three-year journey, growing her faith in ever deeper and more intimate ways.

“At first it was just something my mom really wanted us to try for a year. So I said I’ll do it just for a year and then head off to university,” Emily recalled. “I never would have thought I’d be now going back for my third year. But I ended up loving it.

Last year, seven young people from the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan took part in the St. Therese Institute’s faith formation program; some are returning this fall. Photo by Andrea Bator

“I came to this place where I saw how good life could be when you’re close to God, and, through the teachings of the Church, seeing how nothing makes sense unless God is involved. Before this I was going to church, but I was not committed as I am now. Today I can no longer go back to that former life, living it more so just for myself.”

The St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission’s faith formation program offers young Catholics from across Canada and the world a chance to deepen their faith and form lifelong friendships and bonds with fellow Catholics, all rooted in the “little way” of St. Therese of Lisieux. Last year, seven young people from the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan attended.

Much like Bourke, spending a summer in St. Therese was also a tradition among Andrea Bator and her siblings. Bator is now heading back to St. Therese for her third year, leaving from her home in Grande Prairie.

What she enjoys most about St Therese is the intentionality of faith there, and how the program creates an environment of “prayer without ceasing.”

Andrea Bator is going back for her third year at the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission this year.

“I always dreamed of being formed in my faith and I tried to go to different things that would help with that, but nothing was really filling that desire in my heart,” Bator recalled. “So when I learned about St Therese, studying the Catholic faith around like-minded young people who are passionate about their faith – that really pulled at my heart and I knew I had to go.

“A big part of the community is the duty of the moment. Whether in class, washing dishes, whatever it is – it can all be made a prayer and a way to grow closer to God and encounter Him in whatever we’re doing. I found that very beautiful.”

Read the full story in the September 2021 issue of Northern Light.