| Thea Julien talks to parents of her Challenge team|
Kingston, Michigan, November 17, 2010 -- Thea Julien has been
involved with the Challenge program for over 14 years
in the Thumb area of Michigan, and she will
be retiring from active participation this year. Recently she discussed
her experiences with the Catholic girls club.
you get involved with Challenge?
My daughter was 10
and a friend invited her to join. From then
on there was a need to help with the
team. My daughter is now married and has two
children and another on the way. Even though she is
no longer involved, the obvious graces of the movement
from the Holy Spirit that I have seen working
in her and the other girls I’ve have worked with
have kept me in the Challenge organization.
Life changes. I am now a grandmother, and
have aging parents. My focus has had to move
to these areas of need in my own and
extended family. My years working with Challenge are something
I hold dear. To me it is proof that the
world is not such a bad place. I have
met so many wonderful giving, sharing and faith-filled people within
|Thea Julien’s former Challenge team members fundraising for trip to 2011 World Youth Day|
What types of things were you involved
in with Challenge?
First I was a team mom, and
then a club president, then a regional coordinator.
I also served as lay ECYD assistant, and then finally
as a local area Challenge director. In each of
these roles I continued as a team mom for
What was your favorite part about this
Working with the girls, watching them see
that God does have a plan for each of them,
and that He loves them dearly.
How do you think
Challenge has affected the girls you work with?
think that you would have to ask them, but
one of the girls that I used to work with,
a friend of my daughter’s, is now consecrated. I
watched these girls grow and develop into young adults,
and some are now mothers. The fruits are obvious to
see. Some are starting Famila programs at their new
parishes, or a K4J program. One young lady who
apparently had little faith life at home has joined the
|Thea Julien makes a salad with a Challenge team member during an event for Challenge parents|
Church. Her team mates were there when she became a
Catholic at the Easter Vigil. All these girls
are still active members in apostolate within their parishes.
retiring, you are helping girls fundraise for World Youth
The last team members I was working
with -- a high school Challenge team -- are now
moving into Regnum Christi. I promised them that I would
help them get to World Youth Day, which will
be an experience that they will take with them for
the rest of their lives. My son has attended
two WYD´s and is a living testimony.
What is special
about World Youth Day?
The experience of meeting and
seeing so many young Catholics is a precious gift.
As Catholics we take it for granted that everyone
understands... not all Christians have the blessing and grace of
the universality of being Catholic. They will be able
to say that they saw the Holy Father, not
just heard about him. He is a real, living, vibrant
leader of our Church, representing Christ for each of
How are you fundraising?
In many different ways. We have
a calendar, and monthly goal that we need to
reach. We also have parishes and many people supporting
us. The girls have held or participated in walk-a-thons,
“Fiesta” dinners, craft shows car washes every weekend. They
are going to sell jewelry, Christmas wreaths, and other
things that they have had planned. No matter what the
idea, if the idea comes from them, we do
it. This is their trip. They are earning it, and
they will never forget that they can do whatever
they put their hand to. They “work like it depends
on them, and pray like it depends on God,”
because it does. This is their motto. They also have
adopted St. Therese of the Child Jesus as their
What advice would you give to those involved
with Challenge today?
One thing that I have observed, when
the parents “run the teams,” the teams dissolve. When the
girls are given the freedom to create, use their
own initiatives, and the parents simply guide them, their
teams grow and blossom. The girls do not want another
adult telling them how to do things. They need
to feel they have some say in the direction
of their teams and clubs. And I mean in all
areas -- planning, fundraising and activities. It is something
that I have seen so many times. It gives
them a sense they are capable of making changes
in the world around them.