Pictured above, some participants gather at a past youth weekend. Run by the Institute of the Incarnate Word, this year’s youth weekend will take place on March 10 and 11 at Bishop Marocco/Thomas Merton Secondary School in Toronto. Photo courtesy of the Institute of the Incarnate Word

Bringing youth closer to Christ at IVE weekend

By  Thien-An Nguyen, Youth Speak News
  • February 29, 2012

TORONTO - Young people today often have misconceptions of what a Catholic should be and it is up to the older generation to show them what the faith truly means, said Sr. Inmaculada.

Sr. Inmaculada, 28, is one of the driving forces behind this year’s youth weekend hosted by the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE). This annual event on March 10-11 offers opportunities for Catholics, both lay and religious, to share their faith experiences with youth through talks about topics ranging from sexuality to theology to the sacraments along with fellowship, games and sports.

Volunteers get involved in the youth weekend for the same reason: to help bring people, particularly youth, closer to Christ, said Sr. Inmaculada.

“We’re all working for the glory of God and salvation of souls.”

Held this year at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, the theme is to give “1,001 reasons” to be proud to be young Catholics. Special guests will include Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto and American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Sr. Inmaculada added that the topics of the cardinals’ respective talks will be a surprise.

After 11 years of youth weekends, these events would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the volunteers, both lay and religious, working behind the scenes as speakers, administrators, advertisers, cooks, among other duties. Most of the volunteers are affiliated with the IVE, either formally as third order members or informally. Third order means lay members of the IVE who do not necessarily live in a religious community as priests, brothers or sisters.

Gizela Cardoso, 36, a volunteer at the youth weekend, said she got involved as a way to evangelize.

“When Jesus said ‘The harvest is great, but the labourers are few,’ He wasn’t making a statement; He was extending an invitation and that invitation was to you, me, all of us,” she said.

For Cindy Olivo, 29, a third order member of the IVE and recruiting officer of the youth weekend, past events had a profound impact on her personal conversion and she hopes to do the same for others. She hopes to show youth that “the Gospel and the Church prepare us for the attacks that exist in the present-day and this information is necessary for our survival and others alike.”

For Cardoso, the weekend will help show Catholic youth that they are not alone but belong to a larger spiritual family ready to help them. Citing the examples of St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed Pope John Paul II, Cardoso said they were able to accomplish great things because “they didn’t see themselves as one person, but rather as part of one body.”

For Mark Pablo, 21, a third-year student at the University of Toronto, growing up in a world of moral relativism and lack of a moral foundation can cause young people to receive mixed messages.

“The idea of ‘there is no truth and I should be able to live any way I want’ may lead the youth into a mindset that life has no purpose,” he said. Because of this, Pablo plans to attend the youth weekend with the hope that it will “revitalize my faith in Christ.”

The new generation is facing many difficulties that the older generation never had to face, and it’s not fair they are left to fend for themselves, said Sr. Inmaculada.

“The youth are seeking happiness and they just don’t know where to find it… We need to help them find Christ.”

For more information about the youth weekend, see www.saintaugustineofcanterbury.ca/ive.

(Thien-An Nguyen, 19, is a history and political science student at the University of Ottawa.)

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