SEARCH program welcomes new leaders Jim and Dori Picard

by Kristina Lahr | New Earth


Jim and Dori Picard of Fargo are the new leaders of Search for Christian Maturity, a retreat program that has drawn youth and young adults together to greater experience the faith for approximately 40 years. (Lifetouch)

Over the last 40 years, the SEARCH program has seen three or more generations of retreatants pass through the doors of Maryvale Convent in Valley City. As Jim and Dori Picard, newly hired adult ministers for SEARCH, prepare the future of the program, they are spurred-on by its many fruits and blessings, including those in their own family.

“My dad made a SEARCH retreat when he was young and told me ‘SEARCH was the first time I heard or realized that God loved me and that changed everything,’” said Dori.

SEARCH, technically titled “Search for Christian Maturity,” is a weekend retreat helping youth and young adults on their journey to discover God and Christian community. It is a time to experience a loving, supportive community of young people who want to learn and experience a closer relationship with God and with others.

After Tom and Colleen Musgrave led the program for 24 years, SEARCH is now making way for new leaders, Jim and Dori Picard. Jim is a math teacher at Shanley, a Shanley alum, and a co-director for Trinity Youth Camp in the Diocese of Fargo. Dori, originally from Valley City, works as a registered nurse. She has volunteered at various youth events, including Trinity Youth Camp and chaperoning the Walk for Life in Washington, D.C. They say the ability to coordinate SEARCH is an exciting new opportunity but is also nerve-racking considering the high praise given to SEARCH’s previous coordinators.

“Everyone loves Tom and Colleen and we love Tom and Colleen,” said Dori. “Theirs are very big shoes to fill.”

The Picards aren’t new to SEARCH. Dori attended several retreats as a youth starting when she was 16, while Jim remembered a friend dragging him to his first retreat, but appreciated the experience enough to come back on his own the next year.

“Without giving away any secrets, the retreats are really led by the youth,” said Dori. “We do a lot of discernment beforehand figuring out what God is calling each teen and young adult to do on the weekend. After that, we leave it up to them. There are sharings, Mass every day, the rosary. However, each weekend is different because the sharings are different, the theme of the weekend is different and the team is different.”

The first time youth and young adults attend a SEARCH retreat, they are served by those who have been on retreats before. They’re given the option to be on the SEARCH team for any following retreats they attend. The youth leaders then serve the new SEARCHers by giving testimonies, serving food, or leading activities.

“The new SEARCHers are our priority,” said Jim. “We want to open the faith to them and let them experience it in a slightly different way. That’s priority one, but everyone who attends is going to grow in some way.”

“It’s interesting to hear from some people our age who went to SEARCH who have kids now,” said Dori. “They say ‘ok, I’m just going to have my teen go one time and if they like it, they can go back.’ But I had another family tell me, that they want their teen to go twice, once as a new SEARCHer and once on team because they need to experience that service piece. That really impressed me, that they wanted to instill service in their child.”

As Jim and Dori begin coordinating the SEARCH program, they ask that past SEARCHers and all faithful pray for the program, so that it can continue to reach out to those most in need.

“Don’t be afraid to encourage someone to go,” said Jim. “A lot of SEARCHers are friends of a team member or have a family member who invited them. Word of mouth is powerful. If you’ve never been on a SEARCH retreat, don’t be afraid to branch out and try it.”

“At the absolute base, we want youth to know that they are loved,” said Jim. “To know they have a place in the Catholic faith, they have people who love them and are looking out for them. They have God who loves them. That’s the biggest thing. That’s the heart and soul of what we’re doing.”

“So even if you don’t know anyone in SEARCH, don’t be afraid to check it out,” added Dori.


Listed are the SEARCH retreat weekends in 2018. All retreats are held at Maryvale Convent in Valley City.

• January 12–14

• March 2–4

• April 13–15

• November 2–4