Students dramatize alleged destructive practices of Canadian mining companies during the Catholic Students’ Week “ Proclaim with Integrity for Justice Weekend” event. Photo courtesy of Lori Neale

Catholics unite on campuses across Canada

  • February 9, 2014

For the first time, students from across Canada united in Toronto and held a national event to launch the annual Catholic Students’ Week.

Called the “Proclaim Integrity with Justice Weekend,” 25 representatives from 10 universities gathered at Romero House Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Romero House is a welcome centre for refugees and was deemed a fitting place to kick off the week.

“This is an excellent place to begin Catholic Students’ Week because it is a place where Catholics have recognized that there’s a desperate need for a warm welcome and justice for refugees,” said Lori Neale, national coordinator for the Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry and Canadian Catholic Students’ Association.

The CCCM and CCSA held the event in conjunction with Romero House, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Jesuit Volunteers Canada, Scarboro Missions, Intercordia Canada and the Society of Jesus.

The weekend’s activities included street theatre and a presentation by D&P on the mining practices of Canadian companies and what students can do on campus to aid D&P in solidarity with the Global South.

Catholic Students’ Week runs until Feb. 9. It is meant to unite students who witness to the Gospel on campus, said Neale.

According to CCSA president Daniela Dabrowski, “The hope is to raise awareness that we are Catholic and we are really proud of our identity as Catholics.”

Catholic students at almost 42 post-secondary institutions planned to celebrate Catholic Students’ Week with over 300 events, according to a press release.

“I’m excited that Catholic Students’ Week is growing,” said Neale. This year three new campuses are involved in the celebrations: University of Calgary, Université de Moncton and Acadia University.

“This shows that the activity of the Catholic students on campus is growing and (so is) the connection to a national movement,” said Neale.

Some notable events scheduled for the week included a talk by Cardinal Thomas Collins on Dante’s Divine Comedy at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, a discussion with Archbishop Richard Gagnon at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and a public lecture on Pope Francis and a 30-hour fast for social justice at Corpus Christi College and St. Mark’s Parish at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Events also included ecumenical and interfaith gatherings.

There are about 16 Catholic Students’ Week events at UBC because there are many groups that have evolved out of this vibrant Catholic culture that is already present on campus, said Michael Goco, UBC Newman Club president.

“There’s opportunity for evangelization... Each person will respond differently to a type of activity. Some will be more inclined to respond to intellectual events, some to more social gatherings, some to more spiritual opportunities such as prayer.”

Other partners and collaborators of Catholic Students’ Week include Catholic Campus Outreach, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, vocations offices and many local religious congregations. The week is celebrated with the support of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops.

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