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, 18, is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University.)

Published in Youth Speak News

BRAMPTON, ONT. - A group of Brampton high school students are finding out if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen — and away from the cameras.

Rogers TV is going into the kitchen at Brampton’s Cardinal Leger Secondary School where hospitality and tourism students star in a new reality TV series, Cardinal’s High School Cafe. The show features Grade 12 students operating all aspects of an upscale bistro, and it’s not just the kitchen that gets heated.  

The show first aired on Sept. 3, the opener of a six-episode season that features mainly five students, one per episode, and the challenges and struggles they encounter on the job and with each other. Episode six is the season finale where the students cook at their principal’s house for administrators. It airs Oct. 8.

“I want to keep the suspense, but all sorts of things go wrong on that episode,” said Kerry Greco, the show’s community producer and the school’s hospitality and tourism teacher.  

Greco, after 20 years experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, including owning her own pub and restaurant, started teaching English when she first entered the education field. But when she realized that tourism and hospitality would be offered, she wanted to make students aware of the opportunities available to them.

She had approached Rogers about giving students a chance to show off their culinary skills, which landed students the gig of cooking demonstrations on daytime. Then Greco pitched the idea of reality TV.

“Students who are not always successful in the traditional academic environment can really thrive in the hospitality program,” Greco said.

The first student to be featured on the show, Chris Kelloway, discovered the joy of cooking at age 10.
In Grade 10, he enrolled in the Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major program and stayed until Grade 12.

“I just had a passion for cooking and putting all my creativity into dishes I had made,” he said.

At the bistro, Kelloway and the students in the program served students, faculty and local community members, including seniors from a nearby residence.

Greco tapped into funds available for students enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Major in hospitality and tourism, and that’s how the cafe, equipped with an industrial kitchen, was built.

“They learn what it is to actually serve in the exact same manner that they would if they were working in a high-end restaurant,” Greco said, a lesson that includes dealing with conflict in the kitchen.

But Kelloway’s favourite aspect of the experience is how they “all co-existed together in one team” to ensure “customers had a great experience.” He has no regrets.

The biggest challenge the students faced, running a fast-paced restaurant, remains the same whether or not they were on camera, said Greco.

“There’s always challenges with making sure that the food is executed to the tables properly and the service is executed properly.”

But the cameras did cause additional stress.

“The best part of the program is that it forces students to really be the star of their own life.

“If you’re there and you’re on camera doing the show, you’re accountable for everything you do,” Greco said.

Off-camera, one of Greco’s past students went on to attend Chef Gordon Ramsay’s culinary academy in London that offers a Cordon Bleu diploma. And since filming season one of the show between February and June, his last semester at Cardinal Leger, Kelloway has graduated and is now beginning his career in culinary management at George Brown College.

“My most treasured story, the very first graduate from the program was the first from her entire family to graduate from high school.

“And I think that’s why the program is there, because she was able to visualize the success that she could have in a very real way,” Greco said.

The bistro is open every Friday at the school for all three lunches, with quality meals such as New York steak on the menu for about $7 or $8.

Cardinal’s High School Cafe airs Monday nights at 11 p.m.

Published in Youth Speak News

The Catholic Register is pleased to introduce our new Youth Speak News team. These 14 young people were selected from a record number of applicants to The Register's successful YSN program.


Lianne Milan Bernardo

Lianne Milan Bernardo
Age:
25
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
Education: Master's degree in European, Russian and Eurasian Studies from Carleton University.

Marie Boston

Marie Boston
Age: 24
Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
Education: Third-year fine arts and drama student at the University of Calgary.

Tristan Bronca

Tristan Bronca
Age: 20
Hometown: King City, Ont.
Education: Fouth-year journalism student with a history minor at Carleton University.

Emma Brown

Emma Brown
Age: 19
Hometown: Orillia, Ont.
Education: Second-year journalism student at Carleton University.

Zack Candy

Zack Candy
Age: 21
Hometown: Lanark, Ont.
Education: Third-year English student at the University of Ottawa.

Caroline D'Souza

Caroline D'Souza
Age: 15
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
Education: Grade 11 International Baccalaureate student at Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Camilo Guzman

Camilo Guzman
Age: 20
Hometown: Toronto, Ont. Education: Former religious studies student at I.V.E Seminary.

Beatriz Jereza

Beatriz Jereza
Age:
18
Hometown: Whitby, Ont. Education: Second-year journal- ism student at Ryerson University.

Suzanne Joanes

Suzanne Joanes
Age:
17
Hometown: Brampton, Ont. Education: First-year Concurrent Education student at Queens Uni- versity.

Jean Ko Din

Jean Ko Din
Age:
21
Hometown: Thornhill, Ont. Education: Third-year journalism student at Ryerson University.

Francis Olaer

Francis Olaer
Age:
18
Hometown: Guelph, Ont. Education: Grade 12 student at St. James Catholic High School.

Darren Pereira

Darren Pereira
Age:
17
Hometown: Toronto, Ont. Education: Grade 12 student at Brebeuf College School.

Reagan Reese Seidler

Reagan Reese Seidler
Age:
21
Hometown: Saskatoon, Sask. Education: Political Science graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan.

Terence Wong

Terence Wong
Age:
20
Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ont. Education: Fouth-year history and political studies student at Queens University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Youth Speak News

My younger brother isn’t what I would call “cultured.” An 18-year-old on a boat cruise around Europe has priorities other than discovering the famous basilicas or the incredible detail in their paintings and sculptures. Before our trip last month, my mom and I talked a lot about whether or not Aidan would care to see — much less appreciate — all of the sights. How much groaning could we put up with while we bounced between pieces of history in these old Europeans cities? A fair bit, it turns out.

But something changed when we visited the Vatican. The complaining gave way to a flurry of questions our tour guide tried to answer before my brother interrupted with another question. He forgot how tired and hungry he was, how much his feet hurt or how comfy his bed was back on the cruise ship. He was totally immersed in the magnificence of the city. It seemed obvious to him that St. Peter’s Basilica wasn’t just another old church.

But that’s exactly what it is: an old church. St. Peter’s just happens to be a very important old church. After all, the entire state of the Vatican was built around it.  

The Vatican’s importance as the epicentre of our Catholic faith is lost on most 18-year-olds. They may know some details, but it’s much tougher to grasp the weight they carry. I thought the Vatican was just another old church too.

When I looked at pictures of St. Peter’s Basilica, I could see it was big, but I couldn’t see it was magnificent until I was standing in it. Similarly, a Google image search of the Sistine Chapel won’t make you feel the way you do when you’re looking with your neck craned back at the scenes painted on the ceiling. You don’t see the care, detail or incredible talent it took to create it. You don’t feel the intangible, indescribable something that makes the Vatican more than a big church until you walk through its museums and feel it for yourself.

It’s the art that creates this wonder. “It makes you think about human potential,” our tour guide mused while looking at the detail along every foot of the ceiling in St. Peter’s. People — young people in particular — are drawn in by it.

Amidst all the facts about the scaffolds they used or Michelangelo’s age when he carved the Pieta, there is a narrative. The art tells the story of our faith, capturing its divine messages and old parables. The art creates the questions which lead to discussion. Questions like why was the man who pierced the side of Christ canonized?

From there, the messages of our faith spread between curious onlookers, even after they leave the city. The difference between the art of the Vatican and many other efforts to spread the same messages is one of esthetics. The art gives onlookers only two options: stand in silent admiration or ask questions about it.

But the answer is just a bonus. Spiritual enrichment comes from all the people there who are doing the same thing. There is a sense of solidarity that transcends age, race, sex and even religion. Anyone can appreciate the art, regardless of whether they subscribe to the beliefs embedded in its narrative. That is what makes the city holy. That’s why St. Peter’s is more than just another old church.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
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 ruane@catholicregister.org. I would be happy to hear from you.
Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - Peter Grbac heads to Oxford University in October, leaving behind a legacy of volunteerism at his alma mater Harvard University.

A former St. Michael’s College School student, Grbac took part in The Catholic Register’s Youth Speak News program during his high-school years. His faith followed him to Harvard University in Boston where he just graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies. At commencement, Grbac was a nominee for the prestigious Ames Award for helping others in the community and inspiring leadership. 

“Harvard is an interesting place,” he said. “It’s a place where you are exposed to very different people and very different ideas, and it’s easy to lose track of your faith. If there (was) one constant in (my) four years and going forward it would be my faith community,” referring to St. Paul Catholic Church in Harvard Square.

Published in Youth Speak News

VANCOUVER - Food for the body and food for the mind were the two focal points at Dish with the Bish: Reheat, a combined potluck dinner and question-and-answer session for students with Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

Published in Youth Speak News

RICHMOND HILL, Ont. - More than 150 students from the York Catholic District School Board will gather Oct. 27 to raise awareness of the contributions and struggles of aboriginal people at the Desire for Change Symposium held at Rama First Nations Cultural Centre.

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO – Off the Wall, the Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School student newspaper, has won the general excellence award in the first Catholic Register Student Newspaper Awards.

Published in Youth Speak News

I am not a morning person. I automatically hit the snooze button a couple of times before I finally drag myself out of bed. But during Lent I got a wake up call that I couldn’t ignore.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

TORONTO - While some schools raise funds to fix the girls' washroom on the second floor, or to purchase new school supplies, the students at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto worked together to raise $35,000 to build a maternity ward in Umuahia, Nigeria.

Published in Youth Speak News

QUEBEC CITY - Instead of ringing in the New Year partying at a club at the stroke of midnight, about 450 young people from across Canada broke out into song praising God.

Published in Youth Speak News

HAMILTON, Ont. - Three years ago, a group of Catholic students at McMaster University noticed a spiritual void in their university lives so they started a chapter of the Compass Catholic Fellowship group on campus. Compass is an international student-run Catholic group with Canadian chapters at the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

Published in Youth Speak News

YARMOUTH, N.S. - The St. Ambrose Cathedral parish youth group of Yarmouth is known to travel three hours by caravan for youth events in Halifax. Each member often spends his or her own money to get there. This tight-knit group rises to the challenge of keeping the faith in a small community where young people typically flee after high school.

Published in Youth Speak News