by Antonina Zielinska
School may be out for summer vacation, but the Father Troike Summer Leadership Program at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, Elmhurst, is in full swing.
During the four-week program students from Cathedral Prep work alongside professional educators to provide a leadership program for boys in grades six-to-eight.
“These young men are the future of the Church,” said Father James Kuroly, who helps run the program. “We have a responsibility to bring them closer to Christ.”
Father Kevin Abels, vocations director for the Brooklyn Diocese, visited the program to celebrate Mass. During the homily he told them about his experience when he attended the Father Troike program as a student.
“It was during this time that I discovered God’s overwhelming love for me,” he said. “I was able to recognize the many ways that God was making himself known to me.”
The program was able to enter its 43rd year this summer due in large part to the many alumni who have been influenced by the sessions.
Alumnus Terrence Kumar, who teaches mathematics, said he is grateful to be able to give back to the program that helped him in his youth.
“As a leadership program it leaves you with the desire to help others,” he said. “The students are really excited to be here.”
Elijah Previl, who finished sixth grade, said he enjoys being there and feels he is learning to be a good leader.
“It’s learning to solve problems without violence and to be respectful to others,” he said.
Brandon Ma, who finished seventh grade, said the morning academic classes, such as public speaking, help the students attain practical skills.
“If you can’t speak in public then you can’t lead anything,” he said.
Head Counselor Rhine Almonacy, who is going into senior year at Cathedral Prep, helps organize the afternoon sports sessions. He said he tries to instill asense of respect and sportsmanship into the participants by discouraging inappropriate behavior such as trash talking.
“They see it on TV and I try to teach them that we don’t do that here,” he said.
Almonacy said this type of behavior is usually only seen during a participant’s first year. He said the program has a way of affecting the boys.
Having attended the program himself, Almonacy has volunteered as a counselor every summer since ninth grade. This year he was chosen to be head counselor along with Kevin Moran.
“They take pride in having the program run successfully,” said Father John Cush, director. “It’s a ministry for them and they are doing a great job.”
Although Moran said there are difficult aspects to his position, he enjoys volunteering every summer.
“I think it’s fun to be here,” he said. “You know everyone here and I never feel uncomfortable about being older or a leader.”
The high school volunteers who act as counselors assist with lessons, creating sports line-ups, monitoring in the cafeteria and at Mass as altar servers.
Father Cush said that this program is designed to motivate the young men to grow in Christian charity throughout their lives.
“This is an environment where we challenge the kids to grow to be men for others,” he said.