When I was eight, one of my friends made a statement that baffled me: she didn’t know any of her cousins. Growing up, I had this precon-ceived notion that everyone had a large family, and every Sunday my peers, like me, would go to church, walk down to their grand-parents’ house afterwards for brunch and play with their cousins long into the afternoon.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
August 29, 2014

Faith rescues

Following a traumatic injury and several surgeries, a friend I had once known to be free-spirited came out of the hospital a different person. He was healed physically but, mentally, he was far from fine. He called me one night as I was working on a school assignment. All notions of a quick conversation dropped when his shaky voice collapsed into a cry for help.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
August 22, 2014

Nuns’ radical love

Chicago’s Michigan Avenue was alive with spirit, laughter and heart on the last weekend of July. While the rock festival Lollapalooza drew many tourists to Chicago, for me and other young women, Nunapalooza took centre stage. The annual Come and See weekend retreat, hosted by the Daughters of St. Paul, was held on the same weekend and in the same city as the music festival, but it called young women to come together for a different purpose: to better know God. 

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
August 8, 2014

Prayer in motion

I looked over at Santos, my dance instructor; he was pouring sweat. I prayed to God I didn’t look the same. The sun was beating down on us and on the blacktop roof where we danc ed salsa. We were at Hav an a Nights, one of the parties Santos and his crew hosted in the summer, bringing a taste of Cuba to Toronto. Our backdrop: the downtown skyline.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
July 25, 2014

A holistic love

When a friend broke up with her long-time boyfriend, I asked her what she would do next. She replied, “I need to take some alone time and figure myself out.” An admirable thing to do, especially right after breaking up with the boyfriend.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

I had the honour of attending the very first Steubenville Conference in Toronto. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as the weekend unfolded it was evident this wasn’t going to be an ordinary youth conference and that I was about to be changed spiritually. Together with young people from all over Ontario, I came face to face with God.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

It’s June and I’m headed towards my final year in university. Rather than simply enjoying my summer like my peers, I’m looking at my options. 

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

I was one of an estimated 23,000 people of all ages and religious backgrounds on Parliament Hill for the 17th annual National March for Life, joining a busload of students from Msgr. Percy Johnson, Don Bosco and Fr. John Redmond Catholic Secondary Schools who joined the Salesians from St. Benedict’s parish.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
May 15, 2014

Language of love

I tried to learn French in university once, only to scrape by with a C+. Languages are not my forte, linguistically speaking. After reading Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, I discovered a kind of language I enjoy learning: love.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

I’ve always been one for planning my life ahead of schedule, even years in advance. I tend to go overboard often. The evidence is all over the day planner I use at school: a scribble in the margins here, a small number there, all marking just how long I have until the important dates coming up on my life, like graduation or signing up for classes for my first semester of university.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

A jar of freshly squeezed juice or a bowl of fruit are my constant companions as I walk through my school or pause for lunch. The lingering smell of sweet oranges, berries or bananas often draw the attention of those around me.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
April 23, 2014

Colour of beauty

My first year of university is finally over. Academically, I held my head above water, but socially, I found myself unable to fit in. I am enrolled in a Life Sciences program, where there isn’t much racial diversity. As one of the few black people, I found myself struggling with my self-identity.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

Sometimes I think everything in life is wonderful: nature, places, people. Then I hear stories of destruction, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual, and I s ometimes believe this isn’t a world where I want to be living; it’s a world that seems like a nightmare from which I can’t wake.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario in April to see the exhibit “Revealing the early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art” that has been running since mid-March. The exhibit showcases a collection of religious panels, pages, books, stained-glass windows and altar decorations made by artisans in and around Florence, Italy, during the 14th century. Although these pieces were created centuries ago, we can still find a connection to God and the Catholic community through these works.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

I attended Catholic elementary schools, and when I was in Grade 8, I was choosing a high school to attend. The most popular question people asked me was whether I would choose to attend a public or a Catholic high school. I knew that whatever school I chose — public or Catholic — it wouldn’t mean I’d lose my faith. Catholic schools aren’t a place where you’re forced into your faith, but rather taught how to strengthen it.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out