Speaking Out

Growing up in Ontario, I spent 14 years in Catholic school. I was, and still am, grateful for the religious education I received: mandatory religion classes, school Mass and the freedom to wish people a “Merry Christmas” without reproof.

I was constantly exposed to arguments for publicly funded faith-based schools and agreed with the people around me who felt that exposure to these schools allowed for stronger faith among younger generations.

World Youth Day fruits showing in Newfoundland

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Some say young people are not interested in their faith in Newfoundland, but throughout the past several years I’ve seen many signs of hope.

Prior to World Youth Day in Toronto in the summer of 2002, it was rare to see gatherings for young Catholics in Newfoundland. As a teenager I could not find anywhere to share my faith with people my age. Besides church-mandated activities such as sacramental preparation, meetings for Catholics were mostly attended by older people, even if they were designed for youth.

A vessel of love

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I joined my youth group for Street Patrol, feeding the poor on the streets of Toronto, in the hopes of helping someone’s troubled life. I thought if I could affect or enlighten at least one life, I would be eternally grateful. But I feel like I got something even better.

At first, I was terrified of being shunned or being emotionally or physically harmed as some homeless people are known to be unpredictable.

Being pro-life in the Third World

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BACALOD, Philippines - Growing up as a Catholic, I was always taught to consider life precious in all of its stages of development. To be honest, I felt that I did until I arrived in the Philippines.

Through my volunteer work in the Philippines, I met children that have been put through significant trauma in their precious short lives. As a child raised in Canada, it’s hard to even fathom what they have been through. It was in an orphanage in Bacolod where I learned their stories.

Fostering prayer on campus

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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.