Students renewed for school year

  • September 13, 2023

Youth between the ages of 14 and 30 looking to feel energized before the start of the school season met in praise and worship at the Throneway Renewal conference.

Some 250 young adults from across the GTA made their way to the Rivers of Life Church in Concord, Ont., in the days leading up to the new school year to partake in the annual Catholic symposium.

Christopher Kannampuzha, who co-organized Throneway, said that the conference was supposed to leave young Catholics feeling “renewed.”

“This conference was organized as a way to feel renewed before leaving the summer and going into the next phase of life after, whether it be school or work. We wanted to provide young people a way to grow in faith, fellowship and community,” said Kannampuzha.

Talks from Yes Catholic founder David Patterson and “In the Thicket” podcast host Erin Kinsella were interspersed with Mass, eucharistic adoration and praise and worship music.

Of all the spiritually enriching activities at the conference, 25-year-old Anjana Chirayath found Kinsella’s talk about “redemptive suffering” the most rewarding.

“It just spoke to me. Many of us struggle with mental illness, physical pain and general struggles,” said Chirayath. “We shouldn’t move away from suffering, but embrace it, just as Christ did. Suffering is a chance for us to unite with Christ. When we have moments of suffering, instead of looking at them as curses, we need to embrace the sorrow. We need to use the grace of suffering to help someone else. Of course, this is easier said than done.”

While University of Waterloo student Keziah Mukalel also said that Kinsella’s talk was enlightening, she felt that the opportunity for fellowship was enriching on another level.

“In a world where despair spreads like a virus and the culture seems impossible to fight, it was a blessing to gather with youth that all yearned for a life rooted in Christ. Coming together despite our own failures and weaknesses to praise and thank God was something that I especially needed before the next school year begins,” she said.

The Throneway conference debuted in 2018, but has since changed its structure and format in the last year, co-organizer Jonathan Sanjay noted.

“It started as just a praise and worship concert with adoration at the end and we continued this for a couple years,” said Sanjay. “What makes this Throneway different is that we decided to turn it into a conference where we not only had a praise and worship concert, but also multiple keynote speakers and collaborations with other ministries in the GTA like the Creative Communion.”

Creative Communion is a group of Catholic artists in the GTA who use their artistic prowess to highlight the truth, beauty and goodness of the Church. Kannampuzha explained that Throneway’s tagline is “Worship Through the Arts” so incorporating creative elements in events is made a priority.

“Throneway Renewal ’23 was a huge success. This has been one of our biggest events to date,” said 20-year-old Sanjay, a third-year engineering science student at the University of Toronto.

Throneway is an official outreach wing of Jesus Youth in Ontario, an international Catholic movement that encourages youth to personally encounter Christ.

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