Catholic young adults gather for a presentation at the Archdiocese of Toronto's Renew Conference, Nov. 5, 2022. Photo by Angelica Vecchiato

Coming home to ‘Renew’

By  Angelica Vecchiato, Catholic Register Special
  • November 16, 2022

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the annual Renew conference hosted by the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Office of Catholic Youth got back into the in-person groove on Nov. 5. 

Catholic young adults aged 19-35 from around the GTA made their way to Canada Christian College in Whitby, east of Toronto, for a full-day schedule that included adoration, talks from keynote speakers, confession, Mass and an evening social. 

Revolving around the idea of “coming home,” fitted to celebrate Renew’s first in-person appearance since 2019, the conference’s talks were centred on four main themes — identity, purpose, discernment and mission — addressed by a slate of speakers including Catholic Answers podcast host Trent Horn and author Lisa Cotter. 

Horn provided insight on relativism, analyzing the “dictatorship of relativism,” a term first coined by Pope Benedict. His talk focused on global, moral and science-exception relativism.

“When I think of relativism, I think ‘you do you,’ but when I think of a dictatorship, I think of authoritarianism. These two ideas seemed irreconcilable to me,” he said. 

Horn, who holds master’s degrees in theology, philosophy and bioethics, described how society’s pervasive relativism refutes itself when imposed on others. He argued that objective truths are essential to productive, meaningful conversations.

“You will never be able to have a sensible conversation about God, morality or any important issue if you don’t have the same understanding of truth as someone else. You must make a distinction between subjective and objective truths; something is true if it describes the way the world actually is,” said the Catholic author. “The most pernicious lies in our culture are such because they have an element of truth wrapped into them.” 

Former Focus Missionary Cotter delivered a talk on the “feminine genius,” advising women not to “look at the changing world” for identity but instead look at the “unchanging,” namely, what God had planned for since the beginning.

Djené Gorin was among a band of Catholic youth that the Newman Centre, the University of Toronto’s Catholic chaplaincy, took to the conference. She found Renew to be spiritually reinvigorating. 

“Renew was absolutely revitalizing, refreshing, cleansing and, well, renewing for me. Not only did the conference provide a wealth of new information, but it also inspired me to spread my passion for spreading God’s word to others with a fresh new perspective. The conference reiterated what I already knew in my heart and rekindled my desire to draw closer to God,” said Gorin, a third-year Rotman student at U of T.

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