In 2015 we made a decision to jump into the deep and chase our dreams. We didn't know what that meant at the time but we knew we needed to try something. We started out that year with exactly 33 Confirmation Retreats. Since have grown to facilitating 1000s of Confirmation Retreats, High School Retreats, Elementary School Retreats, Parish Retreats, High School Conferences, Family Retreats, Summer Camps and more!
We are so blessed to have met thousands of people from all walks of life. The world can be a beautiful battle field and it's a blessing to be on the front line.
We have always had an amazing team of people working with us, supporting us and guiding us along. We are thankful for the Archdiocese of Toronto, the school boards and parishes for welcoming us to walk along side them in many opportunities. While we are homegrown in Toronto, we've had the incredible experience of working all over Ontario, other Provinces and slowly into the USA.
The Founders - Our Story
Growing up, both Stacey and I have had the most amazing and life changing experience of encountering Jesus Christ, the risen Lord at; retreats, camps, rallies, World Youth Days and concerts. The reason we got involved as leaders, counselors and organizers is because of what we were able to experience.
We witnessed Christ working in others and in ourselves. We saw and felt the light of Christ. Because of that, we want to share this light of Christ with others… it’s what we’re called to do. Our faith and love in God is what ties it all together…He is the beginning and the end… and every part in-between.
We want to bring sports, recreation, leadership, training and education to young people…but anchored in Faith. Our faith is not something we consider one hour once a week…it’s every second of every day.
We believe our faith is found in experiences.
Peter & Stacey Leitmann
Meet the Team
Founder, Speaker and Facilitator
My own faith journey began when I was a teen and my brother invited me to youth group. That one single invite changed my life. The leaders had a heart of Christ and a love for young people. They were there for me when I had questions and guided me when I was misdirected.
My desire to follow and know Jesus grew year after year; the more I learnt the more I realized how much I didn’t know but that was the driving force…to know and love God. It wasn’t until a young adult retreat I was on when I had my encounter with the risen Lord. This encounter was reinforced time and time again at many retreats, conferences, rallies and mostly importantly…celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
My personal relationship with Jesus Christ continues to grow and deepen. Diving into Scripture nourishes the soul; Church history and Church Fathers strengthen the faith; Cathedrals and Basilicas reveal the beauty of the Catholic Church. These foundations are what drive me to work with young people. The extent of my ministry with and to young people has been completely volunteer for over 20 years. And although the intensity of my involvement has been determined by outside factors for much of that time, it is clear to me that the Lord is now calling me to an ever increasing commitment.
Founder, Speaker and Facilitator
When I was 12, I went on my confirmation retreat - first retreat ever. My life was changed upon learning and realizing that God was in fact real and very alive. That day I told God I would do what He called me to do. It was on that day I felt an overwhelming calling to try against all odds and drive myself to one day open and run a retreat centre - giving others the TRUE opportunity to experience God and find out what it meant in their life.
While that is still the goal, until we find a way we will push to give that encounter on retreats - as the church is the people and we can experience God anywhere. Over 20 years spent in youth ministry; leading and volunteering for retreats, camps and programs. My post-secondary education was lead by this mission, my professional career was spent fast tracking so I could understand the undertaking of this organization and all its intricate parts.
My calling is to be bold, brave and to follow whole-heartedly where the Spirit leads me. I have a holy husband, three beautiful daughters and a son. I know that I God who loves us. Now to share all of this - this is our mission.
Speaker, Facilitator and Musician
People know me as the dedicated coffee drinker who at any random moment may burst into song or dance! Even though I was raised in a Catholic Polish home, my faith journey really started when I was in high-school and went on my first Youth Team of Our Lady (YTOL) retreat. Since then the Holy Spirit has pretty much taken me on the Behemoth rollercoaster!
About a year and a half ago, I discerned to change my career from Massage Therapy to Ministry. Currently I am doing my Masters of Theological Studies at St. Augustine’s Seminary, and I am so blessed that God has given me the opportunity to serve and grow by leading me to HopeStone! If I were to give one way in which I connect with God the most, it would have to be through music.
I love singing praise and worship and playing piano, and am in the finishing stages of releasing my first original praise and worship album! God never fails to amaze me, and He always reminds me that He has quite the sense of humour!
Fr. Michael Simoes
Spiritual Advisor for HopeStone
Born and raised in north Scarborough, Fr Michael received his elementary and high school education through Toronto Catholic District School Board. Having studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo and graduating in 2008, he would enter into St. Augustine’s Seminary to receive his formation to the priesthood. Ordained in 2014, Fr Michael would be assigned as an associate priest at St. Isaac Jogues, Pickering, St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, St. Patrick’s Markham and finally as parish priest at St. Mary Star of the Sea in beautiful downtown Port Credit.
Speaker and Retreat Facilitator
I have devoted myself to youth ministry because I believe in the life-changing message of the Gospel. Most recently I completed a diploma of Theology at St. Augustine’s Seminary.
As a youth minister for over 10 years I have primarily served poverty stricken youth at St. Philip Neri Parish and on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. While on the reservation I was asked to implement a healthy relationship curriculum to within the public schools, in a hope to positively affect the rate of abusive relationships among teenagers. Partnered with another Catholic Youth minister we modeled our program around Catholic teaching and were able to witness many fruits from our efforts.
I was also blessed to have served as youth minister in a more affluent Parish in the Dunedin, Florida region.I believe I am better Christian and youth minister then I was yesterday because of the experiences Christ has blessed me with. Now I look forward working with HopeStone and continuing to grow while in the service of the youth of Toronto.
Speaker, Facilitator & Musician
Growing up the oldest of a large catholic family in a small town an hour outside of Toronto Ontario known as Alliston, I consistently attended my local youth group. Starting in Gr. 5 as an underager, going because my Dad helped out, all the way through Gr. 12 when I graduated high school. Throughout that time I threw myself into any and every youth ministry opportunity I could, including being a teen leader for the middle school youth group and leading music both there as well as the choir for our 5:00 vigil mass. Since then I have attended many different camps, conferences and events in youth ministry and grown a fondness for that specific type of ministry. After high school I attended Fanshawe College and earned my diploma in the Music Industry Arts program in 2020. A couple years after graduation I heard the call to work in ministry with HopeStone. And after spending a year partnered with HopeStone as a part of the OCY Missionary program in the Archdiocese of Toronto, I finally joined the HopeStone Team. As I continue to work in ministry, I thank God for the opportunity to use my favourite gifts and talents to supplement this amazing ministry.
Mission Support, Speaker & Facilitator
Michelle is in her third year of mission with the Office of Catholic Youth. She chose to join the mission because she wants to accompany others as they grow in their relationship with God and embrace the Catholic faith. In this mission year, Michelle hopes that more people will encounter Jesus and see that following Jesus leads to a life filled with joy, hope, freedom, and peace. Beauty speaks deeply to Michelle’s heart, especially a good book or beautiful place!
Speaker & Facilitator
As a teen I spent a lot of my time at the church, whether it was attending or volunteering for youth ministry. But it wasn't until I entered university and experienced life changing circumstances that I finally took to heart and understood Jesus' sacrifice for me. This was followed by being involved in campus ministry and missions which fuelled my desire for evangelization. Some of the greatest moments of joy in my life are when I witness people (especially friends) encounter Christ.
I graduated from TMU's Film program in 2023 and have a huge love for the arts. Along with working in the film industry, I am incredibly excited to be working part-time with HopeStone, to continue growing as a missionary, helping teens to experience the Catholic faith and encounter Jesus personally!
Bryanna Kobe Jackson
Speaker & Facilitator
In June of 2020 I started reading at least one chapter of my Bible daily and 3 years and 5 months later, I officially finished reading the entire Bible! One of my charisms is intercessory prayer where prayer energizes me and I do it tirelessly and consistently. In fact, two years ago, my decision to pray daily signified the moment I invited Jesus to be at the center of my life. I am also known for being a joyful person. Some random things that bring joy (and peace) to my heart are fruitful and holy friendships, eating delicious and satiating food, seeing a St. Joseph statue or simply hearing his name, and hearing the priest say the words of absolution.
Working for HopeStone is an opportunity for me to accompany our youth in a way that is unique to my gifts and charisms that the Lord has give me!
Speaker & Facilitator
I am what some may call a “cradle Catholic,” however, I definitely was not a good one. Being a part of the Catholic faith largely meant attending mass here and there because I had to, or following rules I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until I turned 22 that in a moment of desperation I uttered the words “Lord, I need you” silently in my heart. I then encountered Jesus in a way that brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to the incredible love He has in store for all of His beloved. That I was one of those beloved.
My life did a complete 180. I joined YTOL (Youth Teams of our Lady), a youth group that became a second home and played a huge role in my faith formation for the next 8 years.
Along my journey, I became increasingly drawn to St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and in 2017 felt called to become a chastity missionary, speaking about God’s plan for love, sex and marriage. Since then God has given me the honour of serving Him as a speaker in a multitude of settings. Each time, filling me with awe at how powerfully he can use ordinary people for extraordinary things.
Today, I am living out my vocation joyfully married to my beloved husband, whom, as God would have it, was right there the day I gave my first “Yes” to Jesus. God is good. I cannot wait to continue sharing the message of God’s love through Hopestone ministry.
Speaker & Facilitator
When I was growing up, I went to St. Paul the Apostle Church in Alliston, ON and it was at this church where I first experienced Youth Ministry.
At St. Paul’s, I went to their Edge program when I was in grade 5. I enjoyed all the times I went to Edge and eventually I had the opportunity to go to Edge Camp! I got to go to this summer camp 3 times as a camper and had an amazing 5 days each time I went! It was life-changing!
When I was starting high school, I moved on to the Life Teen program at my church. I played competitive hockey at that time so I couldn’t make a lot of Life Teen nights but when I was able to attend, I had a nice time! I felt a part of a great faith community!
Fast forward a few years after I graduated high school, I felt lead by God to be a leader for Youth Ministry at my church and it has been exciting and fulfilling! Because of this, I was able to go to Edge Camp as a leader for the first time and I had wonderful and powerful experiences! I felt more passionate than ever about Youth Ministry!
From being a part of Edge and Life Teen as both a youth and leader, I have grown in my faith and relationship with God every step of the way. I am now looking forward to strengthening my relationship with God even more by being a member of the HopeStone team and I am grateful and thrilled to share the Catholic faith and its beauty with others!!
Speaker & Facilitator
I grew up in a very Catholic and faith-filled family, but only began to take my faith more seriously and develop a personal relationship with Christ through my high school's chaplaincy club. During university I became involved in the pro-life movement and my view of the world changed dramatically. I felt called to pursue pro-life work on a full-time basis and have spent the last few years advocating for the unborn and assisting women in crisis pregnancies.
I have always been an active member in my parish community and recently had the opportunity to facilitate Edge and Lifeteen programs. Serving the young people through youth ministry has deepened my own relationship with God. I am very excited to now be working with Hopestone and be able to share my faith with others on a larger scale. Through this ministry, my hope is to lead young people closer to Christ and share the message that each one of us has been created by a loving and merciful God who has a special purpose and plan for our lives.
Speaker & Facilitator
My spark for teaching and mentorship began at a young age, my mother bought me a standing whiteboard easel and I would spend hours in my basement teaching and marking my pretend students’ work. As I grew older, and after having some amazing mentors throughout my educational career, I've experienced that a teacher is much more than someone who just provides direction. They can create positive and lasting change in people. They have the ability to really see people and connect to them. I realized from a young age that this was important to me and something that I deeply desired to do.
I later received a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography. Dance is not separate from life - in my opinion. A beautiful dance, one that weaves in and out of itself allows you to see the people in the work. Teaching and ministry can be like this if we make it so. Currently, I am teaching dance at a competitive dance studio in Toronto and within the Catholic School board. I am also in my final year of my Bachelor of Education to become a certified teacher in Ontario. As a future teacher, my forever goal is to follow my model – Jesus.
Patrick Sullivan from EVANGO; collaborated with HopeStone in development of the Confirmation Retreat. Focusing on the Catholic teachings and bringing the head and the heart together for young people through truth, goodness and beauty. Patrick Sullivan is an author and speaker who gained a Master of Divinity degree from St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto.
In 2013, Patrick answered the call to become a Catholic Evangelist. Known for his short and engaging videos on YouTube and his powerful live presentations, Patrick’s love for Christ has led many people to bring the head and heart together for the New Evangelization. Patrick has appeared on EWTN, Salt and Light Television and he has just recently completed his newest book entitled, Dare to Be an Evangelist: evangelizing those we love one day at a time.