Catholic Christian Outreach will open up its annual Rise Up conference to more people this year by hosting events in two locations.

Published in Youth Speak News

Crushes are all consuming when you’re a teenager. It’s all you can think about; it’s all you can talk about.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
November 30, 2012

Fortitude and faith

It is all too easy for young people seeking acceptance and recognition to be attracted by the glitz and glamour of a pleasure-seeking lifestyle. The idea of sainthood or even martyrdom at a young age seems unfathomable and difficult to comprehend. Why suffer for an idea?

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

During elementary school, my smile was a dental nightmare. The question was not whether I needed braces, but when I would get them. The answer to that was Grade 10. And although I was afraid and uncertain about how this would all play out, hindsight has shown me that dental treatment complemented my faith life.

As soon as I received my braces, I was slapped with a list of things that I could and could not eat, and habits I would have to pick up to make sure my teeth were taken care of properly. After appointments with my orthodontist, my teeth and mouth would ache for at least a few hours, sometimes for days. On top of that, I was told that I would have to wear braces — and all the rules and pain that came with them — for at least two years.

As time passed, luckily for me, things became easier to bear, and I began to notice that my dental work shared similarities with my faith. Sometimes people think that being Catholic restrains you because of all the different rules you’re asked to follow. I knew these rules were far from restraining; they were guiding principles that led me towards goodness and God, the greatest good. I realized that, like the commandments, the rules given to me with my braces were there for my benefit, to prevent me from hindering the treatment. Unless I followed them, the braces would leave scars or be ineffective.

I better understood St. Paul when he wrote, “You are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14). That’s not to say that we can disobey the commandments, but it means that by grace we can live a faithful life within the boundaries they set. Realizing this changed my prayer life, as I began to pray often for the grace to make certain good actions habitual.

Reflecting on the pain I sometimes felt because of my braces, I understood that suffering in my life ultimately made me a stronger person. Just as my teeth were only straightened after enduring pain, my virtues were tested and strengthened by trials and suffering. I could only trust in God’s wisdom during these times, and this trustful surrender to Divine Providence became a source of great peace for me.

Having braces also taught me that change comes slowly. It may have taken two years, but God definitely made my crooked teeth straight. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.” Growing in patience, in my prayer life, in my trust in God and in any virtue takes time to accomplish. I won’t be able to make good habits and positive change without a continual effort, but “Patience obtains all things,” said St. Teresa of Avila. “The crooked shall be made straight” (Lk 3:5) if we’re patient enough to let God straighten what needs straightening.

(Pereira, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Brebeuf College School in Toronto.)

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Faith Connections and the Newman Young Adult Ministry are co-hosting “A Date to Remember,” a Catholic speed dating event where single adults can gather and get to know one another.

Speed dating is an activity where participants spend four to five minutes chatting with a person before moving along to the next person. Organizers offer a list of suggested questions to help participants during each session.

Then participants use scorecards placed in envelopes to let organizers know with whom they wish to share their contact information.

Geared towards Catholic singles between the ages of 19 and 39, A Date to Remember draws people who are formerly and currently affiliated with the University of Toronto and the Newman Centre.

“We have young adults asking for an event like this so we try to include that yearly,” said Kelly Bourke, interim program director for Faith Connections, a branch of Fontbonne Ministries.

Both ministries are preparing to hold their third collaborated speed dating event on Oct. 27 at the Newman Centre. The first speed dating night was held last summer.

While there are many socials and mixers hosted by both ministries throughout the year, speed dating provides a special venue for single Catholics.

“It’s an opportunity for singles to help develop new friendships that could develop into something else,” said Gem Ofreneo from the Newman Young Adult Ministry.

Kevin Lo, 27, participated in A Date to Remember after learning about it from a Faith Connections newsletter.

“I was a bit hesitant at first because of its non-traditional approach for finding a potential spouse, but I decided to give it a try,” Lo said. “I thought it would be a good chance to meet some new people and, particularly, fellow young Catholics.”

Space is limited due to the size of the venue and organizers have had to turn people away in the past.

“During the first year it was easy to have women sign on right from the beginning when we advertised,” Bourke said. “(With) the men, there were still spaces in the final week. This year I see men and women signing up (from the start).”

“I had never attended a speed dating event before so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lo said. “However, the event was well organized. The organizers and volunteers did a great job in making the participants feel welcome and comfortable.”

These events provide a friendly and low-pressure environment for participants.

“Men were saying that it takes the pressure off of asking someone for their phone number,” Ofreneo said.

While exclusive to Catholic singles, the dance that follows is open to all young adults. The dance also works as a fundraiser where proceeds will go to the two ministries to fund other activities such as Newman’s outreach programs.

The organizers aim not only to fulfill young adults’ requests for such events, but also to host them in a way that upholds Catholic values.

“Ultimately we say when it comes to something like speed dating... can we bring something there that allows a really healthy and faith-filled idea of meeting new people without perhaps the agenda of ‘Do they make my list?’ ” said Bourke.

She hopes participants will be “open to the possibilities of friendship (and) romance,” and will “be able to be open to truly meeting new people.”

“It’s core to our faith how we connect to other people as strangers, as friends or otherwise.”

Ofreneo encourages single young adults to attend, “but not with the goal in mind of getting a date right away, but to start new friendships and go from there and see where that goes.”

Lo recommends the event.

“Regardless of whether you find that special someone, there is a chance that you may develop many new friendships,” he said.

Lo advises participants to keep an open mind and to pray before and after the event.

“View all ‘dates’ and potential matches as brothers and sisters in Christ,” Lo said. “Be yourself, have fun and smile.”

(Bernardo, 26, lives in Toronto, Ont.)

Published in Youth Speak News
October 10, 2012

A summer to remember

When I first came to The Catholic Register in April to complete a three-week internship, I never thought I’d be staying until Labour Day — but boy, am I lucky I’ve had the opportunity to do so.

I’ve worked in a lot of places — a lot of good places, in fact. But there is something different about The Register newsroom. Here is a rare work environment, one in which people are more than just
polite and conversational. Here, they care.

I graduated from my undergrad at Queen’s University in April 2011, and my experience in journalism really began in September of that year when I entered a two-year masters of journalism program at Carleton University.

I’d always been a confident person, but when it came to journalism, I wasn’t entirely sure I had what it took — and joining a class full of former editor-in-chiefs of their school papers only added to my nerves. It wasn’t until I landed myself at The Register that I really began to believe this was something I could do.

It’s rare for a summer intern to get many bylines — I know that. I see that with my classmates and friends, even the most experienced ones. But here, I’ve been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write full articles right from the get-go, ranging in topics from fundraising campaigns to chimney swifts, and everything in between.

In writing my stories, I’ve had the honour of interviewing so many wonderful people who make a difference in the Catholic community, people who have been kind and open and candid in a way that has allowed for my words to flow easily and for their stories to resonate with me.

But what has truly made the difference in my confidence as a journalist is not the length, type or number of stories I’ve written. Rather, it’s the unconditional support and encouragement I’ve received from my colleagues at The Register, people who have not only allowed me to realize I can be a journalist, but who have also taught me the true value of good, real relationships within a place of work.

This became especially clear to me one day about a month ago, when two faithful employees, Vanessa Santilli, the former youth editor, and Nigel Wheatley, the former web editor, both happened to be leaving at the same time.

Publisher and editor Jim O’Leary and the rest of The Register staff threw a goodbye luncheon for them, complete with gifts, cake and many words of thanks and well wishes for the future. The luncheon — which lasted far longer than a typical lunch hour — was full of hearty laughter and lively conversation.

As I looked around, I realized this is more than just a staff. It’s a family, a family of which I am so grateful to have been a part.

And so, as I head back into the world of coffee-fueled all-nighters and early-morning classes, I want to extend the greatest of thank yous to each and every person I have worked with this summer. You have each made my days here so enjoyable, and given me that extra dose of confidence I need to finish off my degree and kick-start my career.
I only wish every workplace could be like The Register.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Bright lights, booming music and large crowds — there is no party quite like Nuit Blanche. For one night each year, the streets of downtown Toronto erupt in celebration of the city’s rich arts culture. This year the city’s Catholic community joined the party.

The Newman Catholic Students Club (NCSC) from the University of Toronto facilitated an all-night adoration at St. Thomas Aquinas Church Sept 29. They called the event Nuit Benoit, which translates to “Blessed Night.”

“Something on your heart? Spend some time with Christ,” read a small whiteboard easel on a quiet corner at St. George Street and Hoskin Avenue, inviting passersby to enter the church from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

“This is the Year of Faith, the year of evangelization,” said Christina Alaimo, NCSC president. “We want something that can draw people’s attention. We want them to be seduced by Christ.”

Nuit Benoit is NCSC vice president Natasha Milavec’s brain 

child to counter the events of Nuit Blanche as part of the group’s new initiative.

Milavec recalls hearing the creak of the church’s large wooden doors and watching an adorer step out.

“He looked like he was just filled with the Spirit,” said Milavec. “He said that if he had known that this was here, he would’ve come sooner. I think that is what is most satisfying about this event. People’s faces just looked other worldly when they came out.”

More than 100 people attended the event and adored the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night. Many also participated in praise and worship and received the sacrament of Reconciliation.

As Nuit Benoit worked to act as a retreat from the city, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) saw the evening as a platform to display its message to the community. Four exhibits were featured over the night.

John Notten, a teacher at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, presented an art piece for the third year in a row. This year’s piece, The NeXt Desk, was displayed at the Distillery District as part of Thom Sokolsky’s project, Dada Reboot. It is a 13-foot wheel of 20 classroom desks. “It’s mobile, interactive and interconnected,” said Notten.

The NeXt Desk is a symbol representing a new vision to integrate 21st-century technology more seamlessly into the school system.

“The notion of traditional education has been unchanged since the Industrial Revolution,” said Notten. “But in the 21st century, technology is forcing us to re-examine how we educate our kids today.”

Notten’s students understood the state of change in their own way. They called it “the state of flux.” Each student took a piece of a car and transformed it into something that represented their experiences. These individual pieces were then reformed on Yonge and Gould Street as the Fluxmobile.

“It’s a huge honour for the students. I’m so proud of them,” said Notten. “It took my whole life to get my art featured at Nuit Blanche and these 16- and 17- year-olds already have one.”

A second installation from Mary Ward, supervised by Marissa Largo, was located at Wychwood Theatre. Paralandscape is an art piece where people were instructed to take hold of a white parachute as images from Google Earth are projected onto the cloth. As the images shift, they shook the cloth to skew the landscape for “an interactive globetrotting adventure.”

St. Joseph’s College also had its own art piece called the Magic Window. Students collected 35mm unused slides from across the school board and projected them through the windows of their school. This “stained-glass quilt” displayed 50 years worth of traditional curriculum against the modern frame of the building.

(Din, 21, is a third-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

Published in Youth Speak News
October 5, 2012

Risk and reward

One year ago, life was completely different. I was a high school student involved in few extra-curricular activities and I had a lot of free time. As the year went by, my involvement tripled and I found myself taking advantage of more opportunities and meeting more people. So, I can’t help but wonder if my life, as it is right now, would be different had I not taken certain chances.

In 2008, I was asked if I wanted to participate in an upcoming youth retreat. Hesitant, it was my parents’ encouragement that led me to experience my first retreat of many. I spent a weekend at Circle Square Ranch with the EDGE Youth Ministry program that I had been involved with since 2005. After the event, I learned that going to church or kneeling down to pray weren’t the only ways to experience God in my life. Soon enough, I became actively involved in my church and met many people who showed me that Catholicism isn’t only about my relationship with God, but also the relationship that I build with others in order to strengthen my relationship with Him. This, however, meant being open to taking chances in order to meet even more people.

When it came to trying new things, I suffered from indecisiveness. I was afraid to take risks for many reasons, the most obvious being the fear of looking silly. But I also did not want to be disappointed. Then, one day, I had a revelation: every chance is really a chance of a lifetime, and the only way I’d be disappointed is if I didn’t take risks at all.

Taking risks requires a great deal of courage and an even greater deal of faith. I have to trust that the Lord is guiding me and opening doors for me, so that I may learn, experience, wonder and understand that faith is much more than saying that I trust. Faith is proving that I trust by doing something I’m afraid of because, deep down, I know that what I’m about to do will only benefit the relationship I have with the Lord.

Instead of thinking of risks as potentially dangerous acts, think of them as opportunities to strengthen your faith. Had I not taken the chance to go on that retreat, I would have missed out on meeting talented, spiritual and honest people, and I probably wouldn’t have understood the impact that one weekend can make on one’s spiritual journey. Within just two days, my faith had increased to the point where I felt so uplifted and inspired to meet more people who understood what it was like to be a Catholic youth in today’s society.

Looking back, I see that every person and event placed in my life has challenged both me and my faith. For instance, coming to university and moving to a new city alone has been a test from God. I don’t have anyone to “take” me to Mass. When it comes to praying during a packed week, I remind myself that making time for God should be so engraved in me that it’s not something that should be put on my “to-do” list.

Every moment in life is an opportunity to grow closer to God, whether it be good or bad, for even the toughest moments are placed in my life by God to teach me a lesson and to help me, a child of God, grow in faith.

(Joanes, 17, is a Concurrent Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.)

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

Ottawa - The pre-Vatican days of Latin-language Masses are on the rise among Catholic youth.

In Ottawa, St. Clement’s parish moved its daily traditional Latin Mass to St. Anne’s Church in Lowertown to accommodate its growing congregation, including many young families.

Michael and Rebecca Trolley, a couple in their 20s, are very active at Annunciation Anglican Use Catholic Church. “Anglican Use” refers to a particular form, or “use,” of the Roman rite (or Mass) which draws heavily upon the Anglican liturgical and musical tradition, incorporated into a Catholic context.

“We were both nerdy bookworms,” said Michael, who is very interested in Church history. “For a lot of young people, I think there’s a deep skepticism about contemporary culture. And if they want to do something spiritual, the last thing they want is something that looks like everything that’s going on around them. If they’re going to do something different, they’re going to do something really different.”

Prior to 1970, the Roman Mass was celebrated in Latin; this older form of the Mass is now commonly referred to as the traditional Latin Mass. After the Second Vatican Council, the Mass was translated into many different languages, including English. Some communities such as St. Clement’s, however, still celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.

The Trolleys note the similarities between their traditional Anglican Use liturgy and the older form of the Roman rite.

“The differences aren’t so much the text of the liturgy,” said Michael. “In the way that they’re celebrated, our Mass has a great deal in common with the Extraordinary Form (the traditional Latin Mass). They’re both celebrated facing east, it’s usually chanted, with incense. It’s quieter in some ways, it’s more formal, a greater spirit of reverence.”

Rebecca disagrees: “I wouldn’t say it’s more quiet, especially when we do a High Mass. It’s very noisy, because we’re singing a lot. Music is more a part of our tradition. Anglicans like to sing, Catholics don’t,” she jokes, referring to the tradition from which their liturgy derives.

Many young Catholic Canadians do not know much about traditional forms of worship, what a traditional liturgy consists of and how it differs from what is seen in a regular Catholic parish.

“We’ve actually tried to bring back some of what were originally monastic practices into the life of a parish,” said Subdeacon Andrew Bennett, a regular worshipper at Ottawa’s Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Chaplaincy.

“The vast majority of people at the chaplaincy are students,” said Bennett. “In a culture that often lacks an understanding of what mystery is, an understanding of how we as human beings need liturgical worship to enter into the mystery of God present in His Church, I think young people crave authenticity. And in the Christian tradition, if they see authenticity, they’re drawn to it.”

“Monastic practices” refer to the services regularly observed in monasteries. Thus, worshippers at the chaplaincy sing Matins (a service of morning prayer) before the Divine Liturgy (the term for the Mass in the Eastern churches) every Sunday morning.

“A Roman Catholic coming in off the street would notice first of all that it’s longer and that we sing everything,” Bennett said.

Everything in the Divine Liturgy (except the homily) is chanted in the Byzantine rite, a collection of Eastern churches which have come into union with the Roman Catholic Church. But according to the subdeacon, this custom is not exclusive to Byzantine Catholics such as those who attend the chaplaincy.

“The Roman rite has this tradition as well, but in most parishes since the Second Vatican Council, this tradition of the sung Mass has been lost,” said Bennett. “But now you’re seeing again a return to some of these traditions in the Roman Catholic Church.”

(Candy, 21, is a third-year English student at the University of Ottawa.)

Published in Youth Speak News
September 28, 2012

Rebel with a cause

Blessed Pope John Paul II said that youth “must not miss out on the great opportunity to live the Gospel radically.” But why would the head of the Church call youth to live in a way that is radical? 

Often in modern society, I believe there is a tendency to domesticate God. In other words, we tend to adapt God to fit our own needs and desires. We can also adapt Christ to the point that we believe He approves or permits negative actions and lifestyles. I have often met people who believed firmly that it was perfectly fine to lie or cheat if they are just white lies. Sometimes, I find it comforting to be on the receiving end of a white lie. But these actions conform to society, which marks the turning point away from God. In a society where God has no place, we, by adapting to it, leave no place for God.

As a young person, it is difficult to fight against an entire society. But Christ was called a rebel in His day and He calls us to be the same. He spoke against the evils of His time and protested against any authority that contradicted the law of God and oppressed the freedom of the children of God. He didn’t shave His head or start a secret society. But He was a radical with a capital R.

I felt confused when I heard my parish priest speaking about Christ in this way. I always thought about Jesus as being meek and gentle and never pictured Him as radical. Had I not understood the message of Christ? My then-spiritual director led me to a Gospel passage: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning” (Luke 12:49). Wow, I thought, is this the same Christ that instructs us to turn the other cheek? As I read the Gospel of Matthew, I continued to be in awe: “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the Earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34).

I began to study the Gospel and my parish priest directed me to the lives of the saints, on which I found, surprisingly, well-made full-length movies, which aside from their personal text were perhaps some of the greatest resources to see and experience this double message of Christ: to be meek and a warrior at the same time; to be obedient and humble, yet a radical and a rebel.

As the the messiah and the son of God,  anyone who follows Christ belongs to His kingdom and must be ready to defend it and live His message.

A holy priest who had the privilege to celebrate Mass with Pope John Paul II once told me that giving ourselves entirely to Christ meant denying the world entirely, for the enemy of our faith is the king of the world, and with our valour and youth we can rebel against the evil of this world and fight with the weapons that Christ fought with — His love, sacrifice, prayer and example of life. So our war must not be through violence or hatred, for that would be conforming ourselves yet again to the world. Rather, through those things which the world mocks — peace, meekness, love and truth — we will succeed. This is why youth are called to live the Gospel radically and this is why Christ says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

(Guzman, 20, is a third order member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.)

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

Toronto - With Toronto’s universities heavily populated by students who live off-campus, on-campus Catholic chaplaincies work hard to keep commuters coming back.

“Everyone has a different experience with chaplaincy,” said Joseph Zambon, a pastoral assistant at York. “Some members just come for Sunday Mass while other members just go to one-time events held by the chaplaincy throughout the school year.”  

At the University of Toronto, the approach of the Newman Centre chaplaincy is to break it down into smaller, more focused groups. This builds a stronger sense of community with its members. There is also one major retreat for students each term as well as regular services such as Mass seven times a week and adoration after every Friday Mass. The Newman Centre also hosts “A Date to Remember,” a popular speed-dating night for single Catholic young adults.   

York University’s chaplaincy team, which is located on the Keele campus about an hour north of downtown Toronto by public transit, deals almost exclusively with commuters. Because of this, the chaplaincy has very little activity over the weekends, except for Sunday Mass.

The bulk of its services run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, when the campus is alive with students and when they can come and go depending on their class schedules. When the campus virtually shuts down on the weekend, so too does the chaplaincy team for the most part.

Despite the lack of weekend activity, the York chaplaincy enjoyed a successful welcome week on campus. It celebrated a “Blitz Week” handing out popcorn, doing surveys and questionnaires to raise awareness about the chaplaincy. The most recent event, Grill the Priest, was held on Sep. 18 and Sept. 20 in the early afternoon. Students had a chance to ask a priest any tough questions about the Catholic faith. 

The Ryerson University chaplaincy, located at the heart of downtown Toronto, estimates that 50 per cent of its student members commute more than 45 minutes to get to school. 

“It has been my experience that commuter students are eager and excited to get involved. They have a desire to join a student group precisely because they are a commuter student and they want to feel connected to the campus,” said Oriana Bertucci, chaplaincy director at Ryerson. 

Ryerson’s chaplaincy also takes on the role of “gathering the scattered.” The chaplaincy group meets students where they are: on campus, at a coffee shop, at a church or other places Ryerson students hang out. The concept allows the chaplaincy and its events to be more accessible to students regardless of whether they commute or live near campus.

The Ryerson chaplaincy plans most of its events during the day time or early evenings to agree with the schedule of its large commuter group. In addition, the chaplaincy provides a place for prayer in the large space of the St. Michael’s Cathedral. It also holds themed monthly Sunday dinners to encourage interaction with other student groups on the Ryerson campus.

“Our Sunday dinners often attract students who enjoy going to Mass with their friends and having the opportunity to break bread afterwards. Even if they have to travel a bit to come for Mass and dinner, they enjoy the fellowship,” said Bertucci.

“How we define growth in the chaplaincy is by answering: Are we meeting the needs of our students?” Bertucci said. “We need to be adaptable.”

(Jereza is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University.)

Published in Youth Speak News
September 20, 2012

Church is a refuge

New beginnings are exciting. They’re clean slates filled with seemingly endless possibilities and opportunities to learn. And with September comes a start of another school year.

I remember feeling incredibly excited when I first started my undergraduate program in history and political science at the University of Toronto because I had a chance to study all the subjects I enjoyed.

But new beginnings can also be tough, even scary. When I began attending graduate school in the fall of 2009 at Carleton University in Ottawa, I moved away from home. While I was excited, I was also anxious: it was my first time living away from my family and I had to adjust my skills to the demands of my master’s program in European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. Then in the first semester of my second year, I participated in a semester exchange at the University of Trento in Italy. It was the first time that I travelled outside of Canada on my own. I was living in a place where English was hardly spoken outside of campus and where the culture was different from my own. I could not communicate with the locals over simple things, such as when to pick up my bus pass at the station or which sandwich I wanted to buy. At first, these experiences were daunting and isolating and left me wondering how I was going to survive everything.

To tackle these feelings of loneliness and uncertainty, one of the first things I did — aside from consulting maps and bus schedules — was find a church where I could attend Sunday Mass. Finding a parish and going to Mass every weekend was important in my transition because it helped me establish an activity outside of school. It also helped acquaint me with my new surroundings.

Churches are physical symbols of our faith and reflect the history of their communities. The cathedral in Trento has a Gothic interior with massive stone pillars and a high ceiling. It is very different from St. Patrick’s Basilica, the church I attended when I was studying in Ottawa, that contains bright and detailed artwork on its columns, beams and ceiling. But both the Trento Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Basilica provided me with a sense of comfort and, over time, a sense of refuge when everything else in life became too hectic.

Finding a church helped me cope spiritually with the changes happening in my life. It is easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed by new situations, feelings that could have prevented me from enjoying and appreciating the new journey I was on. It was important not to let those feelings take over and overshadow my goals and dreams. These churches were places where I could reflect and regain a sense of perspective on everything.

Along with prayer, taking the time every week to go to church reminded me that God is there for me every step of the way. I only need to open my heart and mind to Him. As written in Psalms 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” By keeping in touch with my faith, I am never alone, no matter how imposing or different my surroundings and challenges may seem. Faith is a cornerstone that always keeps me grounded.
(Bernardo, 25, lives in Toronto.)

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, who took over Covenant House for homeless youth after its founder was accused of financial and sexual improprieties, will be remembered in Toronto as a tireless, enthusiastic and passion- ate role model, said Carol Howes.

Howes, director of Program Services at Covenant House in downtown Toronto, said Sr. McGeady “had the needs of the kids first and foremost and that’s what drove all of her decisions around where the agency went.”

Sr. McGeady, who ran Covenant House from 1990 to 2003, died of respiratory failure in Albany, N.Y., on Sept. 13. She was 84.
After Covenant House was rocked by financial and sexual scandal, Sr. McGeady stepped in and is credited with rescuing the organization, restoring its resources and reputation.

A member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, during her time as Covenant House president, the number of homeless young people served by the international network doubled annually.

According to Howes, Sr. McGeady inspired Covenant House staff to do more for the kids they worked with.

“I was always really impressed that when she would come to speak to our staff or our donors, she always had some kind of personal story to tell about the kids,” Howes said.

She recalls Sr. McGeady’s habit of meeting youth in elevators, for example, casually speaking to them about their lives and following up when she ran into them at a later date.

“She really did stay very connected to what challenges the kids were dealing with. And that was helpful in terms of helping all of us find ways to be supportive to the kids. “

Sr. McGeady was in her mid-60s when she became president and kept in touch with each Covenant House through travels to countries where Covenant House programs operate.
“She really had a passion for expanding services as much as possible because she was hearing about need all over the place, both here in Canada, across some other (U.S.) states and in Central America,” said Howes.

During her tenure, Covenant House expanded its reach dramatically, with new crisis shelters, street outreach and long-term residential programs for homeless youth.

“Here in Canada, we felt that she was very instrumental in allowing us to expand our services through the purchase of an additional building so we could have transitional housing, our rights of passage program for youth, and that allowed us to have a space for our school program and our job centre program.”

She was a strong advocate who saw need and acted upon it, said Howes. And that’s why there is also a Covenant House in Vancouver.

Covenant House now reaches more than 57,000 children and youth in six countries each year.

Sr. McGeady was born June 28, 1928, in Hazelton, Pa., and worked with children for more than 40 years before joining Covenant House. Howes said Sr. McGeady “would want to be re- membered for the impact that she had on the lives of young people and how she helped them turn their lives around.”

(With files from Catholic News Service.)

Published in Youth Speak News
God is always on time.

Just as I was brainstorming ways to combine three of my career interests — writing, editing and working with youth — The Catholic Register was hiring, and chose me as its new Youth Editor.

As Youth Editor, I look forward to guiding this year’s Youth Speak News team in covering stories and issues that are important to young Catholics and to our wider religious community. This year’s YSN team will strive to be effective communicators on whatever topics they cover because of their willingness to express and improve themselves and engage with their faith.

Catholic-oriented stories are everywhere, ranging from parishes to provinces and beyond. These stories can involve anything, such as faith music, policy, science, dance, business, film, community service and much more.

The Register fosters a partnership of faith and journalism, an unusual combination in the general media.

This will be my first time immersed in a faith-oriented workplace. As a child, however, my parents enrolled me in Catholic schools from pre-school to Grade 12, whether we were living in Boston, the island of Dominica or Toronto. I also spent about seven years as an altar server in the Salesian parish of St. Benedict’s in Etobicoke, Ont.

The Salesians are very youth focussed. I hope a little of that rubbed off on me. Belonging to the Knights of the Altar was an invaluable experience. Even though my only goal at the time was to have fun by volunteering, I have no doubt it encouraged my faith to grow. As I’ve learned from my predecessor, Vanessa Santilli, working for a faith-based publication can do the same.  

I thank Santilli for her work over the last two years as Youth Editor. Her enthusiasm for the position and all that the team has accomplished will continue to inspire me.

My main motivation as Youth Editor is a love of journalism. Journalism is an expression of life: what’s happening and who’s involved. If life is worth living, according to the famous Cardinal Fulton J. Sheen, then journalism is worth doing.

I anticipate a lot of newsworthy activity, especially among young Catholics as parishes prepare for World Youth Day 2013. But youth involvement with the faith is vast and has never been and never will be limited to one week.

In addition to contributing to the newspaper, I encourage the YSN team and our youth readership to think outside the page and contribute to our YSN blog, whether they do so through text or multimedia.

The blog is a great place to experiment, reflect on issues we don’t cover in the paper and expand on stories we do cover. It’s a place to include slideshows, audio, video, timelines and other fun forms of online media.  

I want both the youth section of the paper and the blog to engage and intrigue readers.

If you would like to share your ideas for the YSN section of the paper or the blog, please e-mail me at I would be happy to hear from you.
Published in YSN: Speaking Out