Andrea Maria Dias, Youth Speak News

Exploring Mission Week

By  Andrea Maria Dias, Youth Speak News
  • February 1, 2012

As a liberal arts student, I find the issue of religion constantly brought to my attention, analysed, dissected and eventually applied to today’s issues completely severed from God. Mission Week at the Newman House Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University, however, allowed me the opportunity to engage in a more upward-looking spiritual conversation with my peers.

With a table set up at a different location on campus each day, the Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) missionaries, along with a group of student leaders, spent hours taking surveys and handing out lollipops to the students returning in mid-January.

These 30-second surveys ask simple but pertinent questions about a students’ faith: their religious background, how often they think about spirituality, whether they believe in a God they know and experience personally and if they have ever had an opportunity to ask their questions about the Catholic faith.

By its very presence (and its proximity to areas that provide caffeine, as well as social and study space), the table and those serving it attracted spiritual conversations from an extensive cross-section of the student body.

After the surveys are sorted, a process begins in which each of the people who have left their contact information are personally called and invited to a one-on-one conversation with a missionary or student. During this time, they talk in more detail about their faith journey and the many opportunities available for them through the Newman House on campus.

It is fascinating to see how certain aspects of the spiritual life have filtered through in a society that is, by and large, ambivalent towards God. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to a number of atheists who truly believe in a search for their “vocation” or in a morality much more rigid than that which the Church espouses.

I’ve talked with the “I-believe-in-God-but-not-religion” people who arm themselves with Jefferson Bethke-like arguments as I approach or else discuss how they find that diligence in school work, friendships and drugs is the true path to a personal encounter with God.

And I have seen some interested, searching individuals come up to the table full of questions, obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit so apparent in the missionaries and students who speak to them about Jesus.

My experience at Mission Week showed me the resonance of Christ’s message even in current society. In giving me the opportunity to stand at the table, make phone calls and go on follow-ups, the CCO missionaries not only allowed me to play a small part in the spiritual journeys these students were on, but also equipped me with tools of evangelization I can implement in my own life.

From their example, I have learned that to have a missionary disposition means listening to each person with Christ’s love for them in your heart; it requires talking to them with the confidence to know that the Spirit will move in their lives.

However, I feel the best gift we are given to share is our own testimonies; they show how perfectly our God loves us — universally and uniquely.

(Dias, 20, is an English literature and history student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Read her full profile at youthspeaknews.org.)

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