Young adults get into the swing of things during Praise and Worship at a previous Renew Toronto conference. Photo from Facebook

Renew Toronto aims to enrich young adult faith

  • October 13, 2023

Over 500 Catholic young adults aged 19 to 39 will strive to enrich their faith at the annual Renew Toronto conference, which is being staged at the Canada Event Centre in Whitby, Ont., on Nov. 4.

Fr. Joshua Roldan, the director of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY), said this jam-packed one-day gathering offers many potential spiritual and social benefits for attendees.

“The (purpose) of the conference has always been for young adults to have a spiritual encounter with our Lord, to be formed and to learn more about their faith,” said Roldan. “It is also about growing in community with like-minded Catholics who are on the same journey to find the Lord. It can also help with their vocations and discovering God’s purpose for their lives.”

Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo ignites the day-long celebration with welcome remarks. The rest of the schedule features keynote presentations from special guests, praise and worship led by the band Steadfast Worship, Mass, adoration, small-group discussions, food and fellowship.

Married couple Bobby and Jackie Angel are shepherding the ministry team for the conference. They are both authors — they co-wrote a book with Fr. Mike Schmitz called Pray, Decide, Don’t Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God’s Will — and broadcasters for the Ascension Presents YouTube channel, which seeks “to present the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.” The couple currently resides in North Texas with their five children.

The Angels have delivered presentations at many Steubenville Conferences over the years, which have been attended by some of the young adults heading to Whitby. So impressed with what the Angels’ imparted, some attendees lobbied the OCY to bring this couple to the conference.

“The young adults are looking for what it (means) to have a call to holiness and a call to mission,” said Roldan. “Their names came up a lot on the request list. We, as well, thought their talent in helping young people is very inspiring.”

There will be mini-workshop sessions being hosted during the lunch break and formal workshops during the afternoon. These sessions could feature a guest lecture, a group activity or a combination of both. Some of the workshop speakers assisting the Angels on the ministry team are:

·  Dr. Josephine Lombardi, an author, filmmaker and Associate Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary;

· Dr. Moira McQueen, an author and professor with extensive expertise on bioethics, faith and science and the role of laity in the Church. She is the director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute;

· Patrick and Carissa Douglas, a married couple of 21 years who are expected to welcome their 15th baby to the world in December. Patrick is the co-director, administration and the associate director of family life in the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Formation for Discipleship, Carissa is an author and illustrator of the Little Douglings Catholic children’s book series;

· Kathleen and Jesse LeBlanc are Catholic musicians who created the band Found Together. The parents of three have also initiated The Catholic Date Night, which is an online ministry for engaged and married couples who want to deepen their vocation through purposeful and fun date nights;

· Sr. Marie Immaculata has been a Sister of Our Lady Immaculate for the past 12 years, and confessed her perpetual vows on Aug. 15, 2019. She is entrusted to serve as vocation director and formator for the community.

Roldan said he is familiar with many of the guest speakers, particularly Lombardi and McQueen since they taught him while he was a seminarian at St. Augustine’s. He added that he is looking forward to hearing all their presentations.

The 2022 Renew Conference was the first held during Roldan’s tenure as director of the OCY team. The previous year was an impossibility due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Roldan said experiencing the entire conference was memorable, particularly adoration.

“After we exposed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, watching and seeing all the young adults kneel in adoration and spend that period in silence and one-on-one with our Eucharistic Lord, there was a sense of reverence, love and mercy happening in that moment,” he said.

Visit to learn more about the conference.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.