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 100s 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 15 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.
Patrick Sullivan from EVANGO; collaborates with HopeStone in development of program and Catechesis. 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.
Speaker, Facilitator and Musician
I‘ve been surrounded by a few constants ever since I could remember: prayer groups, music, and family gatherings with plenty of food. Born into a family of music ministers and charismatic leaders, I came to know & accept Jesus for myself at a Youth Camp with the Couples for Christ community at the age of 11. In the 20+ years since, I’ve been blessed with many moments where I‘ve felt like I’m with Jesus in the same room.
I believe that when God puts me in a service role, I‘m essentially a "door holder" that allows for others to come spend some time with God too. Some of these roles have included singing, playing guitar, leading worship, giving pastoral talks, or facilitating group discussions. I’ve taken on these roles at National Conferences, local youth & young adult group gatherings, World Youth Days, and various Archdiocese of Toronto events.
HopeStone allows for me to further use these talents to "hold the door" for young people to try spending a moment or two with a God that very much wants to know and love them.