Speaking Out

I once prayed the rosary while sitting in a tree. That might sound a little bizarre, but as a student on a secular campus I often found myself getting creative in the search for a place to simply be with God.

A Filipino-made solution

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TAGUIG CITY, Philippines - Two years ago I discovered a cultural revolution was happening in the Philippines. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would inspire the world and transform my life forever.

This month, I landed in the Philippines to begin six months of work with the Gawad Kalinga movement. I will be working with the people of the GK Villages to help develop tourism as a means of livelihood in their communities. I will also be meeting and living with many of the families and documenting their stories to share with others.

Conquering your life's crows

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I often struggle to separate myself from situations where I know that I will be tempted to turn away from my Christian values, especially when I’m sure that my friends will think differently of me. I’ve also felt guilty when I’d either neglect time with God for my friends, or vice versa.  

This guilty mentality finally stopped when I attended a Christian youth camp where a minister from Southfield, Michigan, named David John (DJ) delivered a talk called “It’s YOUR life.”

WYD journey in Sydney only the beginning

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It has been one year since those glorious Australian sun-filled days when the streets of Sydney overflowed with faithful pilgrims from around the world. Thousands of pilgrims, Canadians included, arrived with hearts full of joy for World Youth Day 2008, one of the largest events  Australia has ever hosted.

WYD08 has had a deep and special impact on me. For two years, I had the privilege of working on the preparations for WYD08 and this exposed me to the beauty of the Universal Church. During my time at WYD I also learned the great importance of evangelization within the media and when used positively, the tremendous impact that it has on people’s faith journey.

Overcoming materialism

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These days, it is not uncommon to find people complaining and brooding over a malfunctioning iPod or a misplaced flash drive. With our attachment to material things, either one of these minor problems could throw our entire day askew.

So, why is it that our possessions and technologies affect our happiness so much? When did we become so dependent on money and material? And when did we begin to get the notion that these things would bring us joy and satisfaction?

Finding faith, meaning in the workplace

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Faith plays a central role in a lot of the decisions we make, including our career choices. Common questions we ask might include, “What brings meaning to my life?” or “What is God’s purpose for me on this Earth?”

Many youth want a job that enables them to live out their faith on a daily basis. But the challenge is not in finding a job that lets you live your faith but rather in enabling yourself to live your faith in any job. Ever since I graduated from high school, I have worked in a number of different jobs that have provided me with many experiences and growing pains. What I discovered along the way is that I like to help people and in doing so, I developed myself as a servant leader.

Finding a funeral's beauty

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Recently, I was able to interview a family that was donating a large amount of money to a school in memory of their teenage son who died in a terrible car wreck in February. Tears came to the eyes of his father as soon as he stepped into the room to talk to me, and later, after they’d made their presentation, this couple held each other and cried in front of me and two teachers.

The future is in our hands

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It’s almost the end of June. Usually in a student’s mind this means the school year is coming to an end. I’ve often simply seen it this way until now, as this will be the last month of my high school career. I will never have to deal with hard-to-understand math teachers or the 12-minute run our gym teachers force us to do.

Yet, in some ways, no matter how nagging some of those memories are, they always seemed to bring a smile to my face and a good laugh with all my friends. But do the good times stop as soon as graduation is over? I hope not.

Catholic slice misrepresented

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Everybody goes through phases where they think nobody understands them, myself included. But over the last few years, and recently especially, I have begun to feel that many people just don’t seem to understand my religion.

Why? I’m not a member of some obscure cult; I’m a Catholic. Catholicism is a major world religion and definitely a good slice of the religious pie here in Canada. But somehow many people still have no idea what it’s all about. In school I often get asked why we Catholics “worship the Pope or the saints,” why we “force baptism on babies” instead of letting them choose later and why we “call that piece of bread God.”

March for Life more than a day off of school

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In May, I joined more than 20 other students from my school for the 12th annual March for Life in Ottawa. I joined expecting a nice three-day trip to Ottawa and little more. I was very mistaken.

Just after noon on May 14 the rally began on Parliament Hill, as did the rain and wind. Though somewhat unpleasant at first I took it as just a test from God and perhaps many others did as well since no one seemed to mind.

Dealing with death and loss

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On April 10 I was getting ready for another tedious day of school, looking forward to the long Easter weekend and preparing myself to speak with family members who would be particularly emotional because it was a day before the two-year anniversary of my uncle’s death. I was also feeling particularly sorry for myself, believing that I truly deserved this break because the stress of school was becoming unbearable.