Fr. Raymond de Souza, top right, posing with young adults who attended hist all, spoke at the at the Glorious and Free young adults seminar on “Catholicism in our Common Life.” Photo by Patrick Peori

Glorious and Free seminar examines Catholic history in Canada

By  Patrick Peori, Youth Speak News
  • June 2, 2017

As Canada reflects on its 150 years of Confederation, Fr. Raymond de Souza has dug a little deeper to unearth the Catholic perspective on the story behind the history.

He shared his insights at the Glorious and Free young adults seminar on “Catholicism in our Common Life.” Twelve young adults were chosen to attend the May 21-27 seminar organized by Convivium to learn about the heritage of Catholicism in Canada.

De Souza, editor-in-chief of Convivium.ca, launched the week-long seminar on Wolfe Island near Kingston, Ont., with a look back on the country’s Confederation years.

“You can’t explain what took place (between 1608-1867) without the religious reality of the people,” de Souza said.

In the 17th century, St. Marie of the Incarnation came to New France and fostered a favourable relationship with Native school children. They were taught grammar and brought up in the fullness of the Christian faith, he said.

She was “motivated by the desire to spread the Catholic faith,” de Souza said.

Later in that century, St. François de Laval was named the first Bishop of New France. According to de Souza, Laval was able to create a Church based on the common life through health care and education.

The refusal of the French to join the American Revolution in order to protect their right to practise the Catholic faith, the creation of the Kingston diocese and the career of Thomas D’Arcy McGee all played a critical role in the development of Canada being the country it is today.

For Mary Jane Egan, 20, of Toronto, that was a story of Canada she didn’t know. Inspired by the lecture, Egan said she gained an understanding on the founding of the country and how deeply rooted it is in Christian values.

That same history allowed Sara Brade to gain an understanding of the role of Catholicism in Canada.

“Catholic teachings matter and have a place in society for its betterment,” said Brade, a student of Queen’s University in Kingston.

Studying to be a doctor, she said she occasionally feels helpless in regards to legislation that doesn’t fit her Christian values, but seeing the role of the Church in the development of Canada has encouraged her to stand strong on her fundamental beliefs.

De Souza said the inspiration for the young adult seminar came from seminars he attended as a young adult, which he said were great opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth as well as friendships.

Issues like justice, solidarity, liberty and subsidiarity were discussed by speakers like MP Garnett Genuis, Catholic Christian Outreach co-founder Angèle Regnier, Dr. Randy and Anna Boyagoda, Cardus program director Brian Dijkema and Juno award-winning fiddler Natalie McMaster.

In a lecture focused on religion in the public square, Dr. Andrew Bennett urged participants to not fear sharing our faith in the public.

“Our posture in the public square is that of martyrdom,” Bennett said. “Let’s not fear it.”

By giving into fear we risk losing our religious freedom and become marginalized, he said. Going so far as calling the privatization of faith an Enlightenment myth, Bennett said as a disciple of Christ we have a responsibility to invite people into a radical encounter with the person of Christ.

“The ability to act is part of distinct identity,” Bennett said.

We must do so with the joy of the Resurrection in order to keep faith part of our common life for the next 150 years, Bennett said.

(Peori, 19, is a second-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.)

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