The NET Canada team working out of the Western Canada office includes, from left to right, Kody Elliott, team supervisor, Joe Vogel, executive director, Rachel Hennessey, team supervisor, and Jean-Paul de Fleuriot, Western program co-ordinator. Photo courtesy of NET Canada

NET Ministries going for national reach with expansion

  • September 22, 2016

OTTAWA – NET Ministries Canada is expanding to two new dioceses in Canada to give its ministry to evangelize high school-age students a national reach.

The plan to open new offices — in the Vancouver and Montreal archdioceses — “fulfills one of our strategic initiatives to have a western and a Quebec presence,” said NET Canada executive director Joe Vogel, who will be moving with his wife and eight children to the Vancouver area in early November.

Three additional staff will also move out west from Ottawa, where NET Ministries has been headquartered since the worldwide ministry came to Canada in 1994.

NET — which stands for New Evangelization Teams — Canada will sponsor 40 missionaries this year with an outreach to more than 20,000 young people across Canada, Vogel said.

“We try to create disciples,” Vogel said. “In creating disciples we get lots of good priests, religious and good marriages and lots of children and people who are active in their faith.”

Vogel said NET targets teenagers because “belief is often learned, pretty much like multiplication tables, but so is non-belief.”

NET originated in the United States, but has since spread to Australia, Ireland, Scotland and Uganda.

Vogel said expanding makes sense because almost half of NET Canada’s ministry is already working in the west and it needed a permanent presence there.

“Having an office out there will greatly help in efficiency and bring some of the fruit we have here,” said Vogel.

Garth Pereira will move into the position of associate director in the Ottawa office.

In Vancouver, NET Canada will be working initially out of the Vancouver archdiocese’s offices and supporting the existing youth ministry in addition to furthering its work in the western provinces. In Alberta, NET Canada plans to expand to Fort McMurray next year. NET is already present in 17 schools in Alberta, reaching students from Grades 6 to 12.

NET also works with existing youth ministries in the west, meeting with youth ministers, priests, parishes and bishops, supporting what they have, Vogel said.

In Montreal, NET Ministries will work through Loyola High School, a private Catholic school for boys, to develop an outreach to CEGEP students. CEGEP is the one-year post-high school and pre-university college program in Quebec.

Loyola has had a retreat program for its Grade 11 students that NET Ministries has been invited to run. The voluntary retreat involves two-half days.

“They basically have a transformational experience and many have conversions there,” Vogel said. “After the retreat is completed, they’re encouraged to remain in small groups and continue meeting. What we want to continue are the ongoing meetings of those who have attended the retreat.”

NET hopes to continue working with the Loyola students once they go to CEGEP. They can become points of contact to reach out to other CEGEP students, to encourage them to take a similar retreat and get involved in small groups to continue learning more about their faith, said Vogel.

“We’ll provide support, ongoing faith formation, mentorship and discipleship for students from Loyola once they go into CEGEP.

“It’s uncharted territory,” Vogel said. “The CEGEP program is a ‘pastoral void’ according to (Montreal Auxiliary) Bishop (Thomas) Dowd and we’re hoping to fill that.”

NET hopes to target Catholics in the schools. Often they will lose their faith in CEGEP. There’s an estimated 20,000 “young people who need spiritual support and guidance.”

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