|From left to right...Ellen Kozarits, MaryBeth Freitag, Jeanette Pieper, Sarah O'Daniel, Katie Leible|
by Mary Beth Freitag
St. Louis, January 30, 2006. This January,
a group of five Challenge girls and two moms from
St. Louis went to Chicago to propose the creation of
a clubhouse fund to a possible benefactor named “Mr. Smith”
(for privacy, we will not use his real name).
was one of the five girls on the presentation team
and would like to share our experience from the trip.
I know I am speaking for everyone when I say
that it was absolutely amazing. Through the Holy Spirit, we
did a lot of great work to spread the mission
The trip was very eventful; it took a
great deal of perseverance and determination from everyone, but it
all worked out in the end. First of all, the
trip had originally been scheduled for December, but had to
be changed due to bad weather. We had one weekend
of ice and snow in St. Louis, and of course
it had to be on the weekend of our trip!
But we were not discouraged - we rescheduled and thankfully
it worked out to do it a month later.
the presentation also took a lot of work. We started
from scratch, but after weeks of writing, practicing, critiquing, and
eventually practicing a demo for all of our parents, we
were ready to present. Our work paid off! On January
12, Sarah O’Daniel, Jeanette Pieper, Ellen Kozarits, Katie Leible, Mrs.
O’Daniel, Mrs. Kozarits, and I all piled into Mrs. Kozarits’
car and embarked on our journey to Chicago.
When we arrived at Mr. Smith’s office, we prayed intensely
to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Mr. Smith was very
hospitable and we felt really comfortable with him. It was
a great environment to speak in, and I could feel
the Holy Spirit in the room, making us calm and
relaxed. I knew that what we were saying was a
work of God and was going to have a great
impact upon Mr. Smith’s soul.
The greatest part
of this presentation, however, was not the presentation itself. After
we had all finished speaking and the power point presentation
had ended, Mr. Smith started talking to us, telling us
how much our testimony and presence had helped him, and
then he went on to tell us his personal conversion
story. He shared with us how a pilgrimage to Europe
had changed his life and his faith. He also told
us how hard it was for him to keep his
faith strong amidst the currents of our secular and materialistic
world. I think that the reason he told us all
of this was because he saw in us the love
of Christ and the strength that we have as Challenge
members to stand against the currents of the world.
Pieper said, “Our presentation really showed me what it means
to be a strong Catholic girl in today’s society… it
really showed me how I need to keep my faith
We all had similar sentiments.
Katie Leible said,
“I was really inspired by Mr. Smith’s testimony, and his
willingness to share his experiences with us showed me how
much of an impact we made on him.”
showed us Challenge in action and what our simple testimonies
can do for people, people who are struggling within our
faithless society and people who are searching for Christ’s love.
Mr. Smith gave us a ten thousand dollar check to
put toward a clubhouse. We are planning to get his
daughter involved in the Challenge club in Chicago and hope
that he will be a great friend of Challenge and
its mission. When we left, he told us to keep
doing what we were doing. We took that home with
us, with a renewed faith, determination to live the mission
of Challenge to the best of our ability, but most
of all, with a yearning to love Christ and continue
building his Kingdom.