Being a Leader with MI Youth is an awesome privilege that brings with it great responsibilities.
The teens in your care will be watching you very closely and your example will have a GREAT influence on them. It is very likely that some of their most lasting and vivid memories will be of their group leader.
Can there be any higher call than drawing young souls to give their hearts completely to Christ through the Heart of Mary?
St. Max expressed this as "a mission worth living, working, suffering and even dying for!" A true MI Knight is willing to give 'til it hurts and not count the cost, asking Our Lady to "use all that I am and have without reserve...my whole life, death, and eternity"...everything! Totus Tuus!
Only Grace Moves Souls
Father Kolbe was known to impress upon his MI Knights that "only grace moves souls". A Leader might display many talents and skills - and these are valuable to Our Lady - but in truth, only grace has the power to move a young soul to conversion. Grace is revealed when a leader is open to the unfolding of God's plan, rather than his or her own agenda. An effective leader mirrors Mary of Nazareth, pointing the young person to Christ; careful not to become an obstacle by focusing the attention on his or her own person rather than on God.
In the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe, MI Founder
"Our interior life must be such that we are tools in the hands of the Immaculata, in other words to permit her to guide us in all things. Without doubt she is the most perfect instrument in the hands of God. We in turn should be instruments in her immaculate hands... We have surrendered ourselves to the Immaculata as instruments, hence she is to work through us. We know it takes a writer to use a pen. Although we say that something is written by a pen, yet the pen itself cannot write, but only the writer. We are to be pens in the hand of the Immaculata...
We are instruments of the Immaculata, but not by physical force, as a brush in the hand of an artist, but rather guided by intellect and will... The Immaculata is good and, indeed so good that despite so many frailties she is not discouraged with us. Although she herself is immaculate, yet she does not recoil from using rusty tools to carry out her works of conversion and sanctification, or of supernaturally stimulating and developing souls."
The following core ideals of MI leadership are those of St. Maximilian himself. When a MI Knight really strives to live by these ideals, his motives are purified. In this way he can be confident that Our Lady uses even "rusty instruments" for the conversion of souls.
MI Leadership Code of Conduct
We will be going through the policies on the leadership day of each retreat, but please take some time to look them over before hand. For the new leaders - especially those making the transition between being a teen participant on retreats and an adult leader - please take a close look at the policies regarding your interaction with minors [Under 18]. As legal adults involved in ministry with minors, there are certain things (like emailing, texting, social networking sites, calling, or being alone with a minor) that leaders must refrain from doing on and off the retreat. The MI policies are similar to what dioceses and other movements working with minors require of participating adults, and is also behavior that most parents and guardians would expect from adult leaders.
Code of Conduct
The Leadership day preceding every retreat is a priority and is vital to a successful program. All leaders are required to attend in its entirety, so please plan to arrive on time. The objectives are: Establishing a common mission, providing spiritual and practical leadership formation, establishing leadership protocol, the delegation of individual responsibilities, and retreat planning.
Time is dedicated to common prayer, an opportunity for Confessions, and a thorough overview of the MI Youth Leadership Packet, Code of Conduct, Resource Guidelines and the schedule of the retreat.
Lodging, Meals, & Transportation
During the course of the retreat, meals and lodging expenses are covered by MI Youth. However, MI Youth is not in a position to absorb the expense of early arrivals or late departures. (With the exception of those requested to arrive early) Please plan to make your own accommodations if you should be arriving outside the designated arrival and/or departure times.
Those leaders traveling in should plan their arrival times into the airport/train or bus station with sufficient time to arrive the start time of the Leadership Day. Please give the retreat coordinator advance notice if transportation is needed to or from the retreat.
Transportation of Minors
All MI Leaders, Priests, Cooks (MI retreat "staff") are prohibited from driving with minors who are non-siblings to and from the camp. Leaders and MI retreat staff may not bring teen siblings or family members with them during the leadership training portion of the program.
Be advised that Minors must be released (sign-ed out) by the program to their parent or legal guardian. If a Leader plans to be the designated driver for teen siblings and/or family members, the parent(s) or legal guardian must give explicit written permission on their signed registration/liability release form.
As leaders we represent the international, Vatican-approved movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe; how we act and dress needs to express the professionalism of that movement. Leaders cannot expect the teens to do what they themselves are not willing to do, and a leader out of dress code sends the wrong signal to the teen participants. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
External labels or advertisements for clothing brands, including Abercrombie, Hollister, Pink/Victoria Secret, Aerie, or any other products that actively promote unchristian values or call to mind unchristian images are not permissible for leaders to wear while on retreat, nor is any article of clothing containing images or text that may be in conflict with Catholic morality or display content that is inappropriate in a retreat setting. Facial and tongue piercings must be plugged or removed during the retreat and tattoos must be covered.
No tank tops, sleeveless tops or dresses
Shorts must be mid-thigh [no more than 3 in. above the knee]
Skirts/skorts/dresses-hem must touch floor when kneeling (even when worn with leggings)
Modest one-piece swimsuits
No shorts for Mass
No low-rise pants/skirts/shorts (at no point should midriff or underwear show)
No skin tight or transparent clothing; no ‘skinny pants’
No shorts, skirts, pants, or sweats with writing on the buttocks
No low-cut tops or dresses
No mid-drift tops
No tank tops or sleeveless shirts
Shorts/swim trunks must be mid-thigh [no more than 3 in. above the knee]
No low-rider pants, shorts or jeans (at no point should midriff or underwear show)
No skin tight or transparent clothing; no ‘skinny pants’
No shorts, pants, or sweats with writing on the buttocks
No shorts for Mass
No half-shirts (yes, it had to be said)
Junior Leader Mentorship
The first time leading on a MI Youth retreat can be a challenging task, in particular for those young adults who are still making the transition from having been a teen participant to the role of adult leadership. It can take time before young leaders are fully prepared to lead.
To assist in that transition, "Junior Leaders" will be matched up with "Senior Leaders" and mentored through the program. Senior Leaders will be responsible to provide daily evaluations of the Junior Leaders' performance and offer suggestions to support their growth in leadership development.
Retreat Staff Meetings: The retreat Directors facilitate a nightly meeting with the resident Priest, Small Group Leaders, and kitchen staff [when necessary]. The objective of the meetings is to regroup with a prayer, evaluate the events of the day, address any concerns, and review the following day's schedule.
Co-Leaders meet one-on-one each night. The objective of the meeting is to take a moment of prayer together, re-evaluate how they are working together as co-leaders, discuss the dynamics in their small group, review the following day's schedule and resource materials, and plan together what their approach will be for their small group for the following day's events. Time permitting; they then present a summary of their meeting to the larger group of Leaders, providing a dynamic exchange of ideas between all of the leaders.
Closing Evaluation Meeting
After the retreat is over and the teens have departed, the retreat staff conducts a closing meeting. The purpose is to evaluate the over-all program, gather leadership feedback and needs assessments, and close together in prayer. Leaders often review the feedback sheets gathered from the teens. Generally, leaders try to get together immediately following the evaluation meeting for an appreciation dinner.