Student conference tackles Synod

  • October 22, 2015

TORONTO - As the Synod of Bishops on the Family draws to a close, students from campus chaplaincies across Ontario and Quebec are gathering at the Newman Centre Catholic Chaplaincy in Toronto to talk vocations, marriage and family.

Called to Love is the theme for this year’s Canadian Catholic Students’ Association regional conference Oct. 23-25. Sonal Castelino, associate director of formations and programs at Newman Centre, said it was important for the committee to take this opportunity to inform and equip student chaplaincy leaders about the topics being addressed at the Synod.

“The idea is to give them the encouragement that the work that they are doing is very important,” said Castelino. “The second is to also give them some tools and resources that they can take back to their campuses and start.”

Because the Synod is taking place in tandem with the planning and running of the conference, Castelino said that the organizing committee has been watching the Synod events very closely.

“The keynotes have been advised to prepare the talks in anticipation of the (Synod closing),” said Castelino.

“Especially also getting information from the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. That’s sort of the springboard off of preparing and trying to do some things that are being recently covered.”

The main focus of the conference will be discerning vocations in the family and marriage preparation, topics that concern Catholic young adults.

John and Marifa MacMullen will kick off the conference on Oct. 23, leading a discussion of their Witness to Holiness in Marriage.

Moral theology professor John Berkman will speak on Oct. 24 morning about Discerning and Preparing for Marriage. He will discuss some practical tools and tips that young adults can use while considering the vocation of marriage.

Janine Langan, professor emeritus in philosophy at the University of St. Michael’s College, is the second keynote speaker at the conference. On Oct. 24 she will be speaking about Cultivating a Culture of Vocations in the Family.

Castelino said that among the talks and workshops, one of the most popular workshops will be a panel discussion on modern challenges within the family. The panel will include Josephine Lombardi, professor and director of lay formation at Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary, and Cale Clark, director of The Faith Explained Seminars.

“That’s where we’ll talk about infertility issues, some of the changes that have happened in the annulment process... we’ll talk about inter-religious marriages and we’ll talk about homosexuality tendencies within marriages,” she said.

About 70 student delegates from college and university campuses in Ontario and Quebec will be attending the conference weekend, along with the students at the Newman Centre.

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