Vancouver archbishop tells youth to evangelize

By  Carine Lee, Youth Speak News
  • February 15, 2008

{mosimage}BURNABY, B.C. - Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, coadjutor bishop for the archdiocese of Vancouver, met with young adults at the newly opened Interfaith Centre of Simon Fraser University on Jan. 23 where he urged students to defend the faith.

Students from Douglas College, University of British Columbia and SFU packed the room where Miller engaged in dialogue and shared his thoughts on faith in action within secular universities.

“There are large numbers of students, most of whom are un-churched,” said Miller. “This leaves for evangelization a tremendous opportunity.”

Miller encouraged students to turn secular university education into evangelization opportunities and to defend the faith.

“We should be able to give an account of the hope that is in us,” said Miller, referring to the writings of St. Peter. “And to be able to give an account for that hope, that hope in eternal life and in the message of the Gospel that we need to understand what we teach and to be able to defend it intelligently, reasonably and critically.”

To effectively navigate the age of confusion in which we live, Miller emphasized Pope Benedict XVI’s message of nurturing a “friendship with Jesus.”

“We have to pray, we have to allow the Lord to move our hearts and quiet our minds,” he said. “And prayer has to be nourished by solid reading of the Scripture.”

Miller said that in order to meet the real temptations and trials in life, nourishment from the sacramental life of the Eucharist and Reconciliation is essential.

“The sacrament of Reconciliation is not just a moment of forgiveness. It is also a sacrament that strengthens us,” he said. “It is a sacrament tailor-made to encounter the Lord and be strengthened by Him.”

Further extending the notion of friendship, Miller called for fellowship and community. He said strength comes from being with other people who are on the same journey.

Miller asked students what challenges they face and what the archdiocese of Vancouver could do for young adults.

Students said they are at a transitional period in life, highlighting a feeling of disorientation and isolation. While they are looking for a community of Catholics their own age to strengthen one another, and to learn more about and practise their faith, parish groups are mostly catered for a younger age group. Some suggested parish groups ran wholly by young adults, but with strong pastoral support of the parish.

Outside the parish, Miller encouraged young adults to gather together with others in their vocational careers who share the same vision and seek the truth in the Catholic worldview.

“I absolutely loved that His Excellency was there for us students. So available to answer any question that burned in our hearts or troubled our minds,” said Minerva Macapagal, 22. “His willingness to sit with us and talk with us made me realize that the church is here to serve us.”

The forum went on longer than scheduled, yet some students were reluctant to leave.

“I brought a friend with me and while we both had a class, neither of us wanted to leave because we were really captivated by both (Miller’s) wisdom and his words,” said Cesar Inducil, 23.

After a brief intermission, Miller celebrated Mass with five priests, including the very first chaplain of SFU, Fr. John Swinkels, and a full house of Catholics and non-Catholics.

In his homily, Miller spoke of the need to pray unceasingly for Christian unity and commitment to the quest. He spoke specifically about the need on-campus to be unafraid and to give a common witness to the truth of the Gospel.

“I was awestruck at the large number of people who came to Mass,” said Inducil, vice-president of SFU Catholic Society.

(Lee, 21, studies communications at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.)

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