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New Catalyst group at NLA

Catalyst members Caleb Knuth, Carissa Phelps, Stephanie Pohl and Maddie Borner gathered recently in Oakdale.

A catalyst is an agent of change. A new Christian student group in Woodbury is hoping that it can become that in lives and schools around the area.

The new group, appropriately called Catalyst, was started in Woodbury in June.

Stephanie Pohl, a student at New Life Academy, attended a meeting of Catalyst in Blaine in the fall of 2011. She was so inspired by her time at Catalyst that she wanted to bring it to Woodbury.

"I saw 120 to 150 students on their knees worshiping God," she said. "I thought, 'I want to be a part of that.'"

Pohl struggled to implement a Catalyst group at New Life for about five months; her peers were too busy to add something new to their plates.

So she decided to bring a few of her friends to Blaine for a Catalyst meeting. After experiencing the movement themselves, Pohl said their attitudes changed.

"They said, 'I don't care if I'm busy, I'm doing this.'"

Catalyst has a way of energizing students, Pohl said.

"It's cool to see students stand up because that doesn't happen," she said.

Catalyst has two main components: coalitions and groups. Groups are implemented at specific campuses and meet weekly.

Coalitions are monthly meetings to equip and energize the groups. Along with her newly convinced peers, Pohl started a Catalyst coalition in Woodbury. The first meeting was in June, another is scheduled for Thursday, July 26.

Each month, the coalition will meet for worship, discussion, a message, prayer, pizza and pop at Five Oaks Community Church from 6-9 p.m.

In the future, Pohl would like to see groups from campuses around the east metro connected to the coalition.

Pohl is passionate about Catalyst.

"It's a movement of change," she said. "We're tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. We want a new pace."

According to its website, Catalyst is "a movement for students, by students."

The program was started at Blaine High School in January 2011 by a group of students that were looking for something other than a Bible study.

"We passionately wanted to be about transformation, not just information," said Jean Carlos Diaz, one of the Catalyst founders.

The movement has grown exponentially since then. Catalyst now has more than 150 student leaders taking charge of the 500-plus students involved in campus groups. Diaz is expecting Catalyst to grow even more this summer.

"We have...a lot more coming our way," he said.

Although Catalyst is led by students, parents, youth pastors and other adults can be involved.

"We do want support," Pohl said.

Interested Woodbury residents can contact Pohl at or Caleb Knuth at