UBC students have a 'Dish with the Bish'

By  Jeremy Keong, Youth Speak News
  • December 2, 2010

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.

The Nov. 24 event was organized and hosted by the University of British Columbia Catholic Campus Ministry and took place at St. Mark’s College, the theological college at UBC. About 60 students attended, bringing a variety of dishes, including sushi, perogies and pasta. Then the group moved into St. Ignatius parish, the Catholic parish at UBC, for the question-and-answer session.

“I think that (asking the big questions) is one of the marks of our Catholic intellectual tradition,” said Maureen Wicken, the UBC Catholic Campus Ministry co-ordinator.

“When I hear what students are really dealing with, I think it’s very important that we take those questions to a great source, because (the students) are going to ask them… and I’d like them to get answers from a teaching authority.”

Now in its second year, the event has slightly changed from its original concept. While the event’s goal last year was to gather students to hear the archbishop speak about his vocation, it shifted to a question-and-answer session so the archbishop could get “a flavour of what was happening on campus,” said Wicken.

Miller appreciates the event is an opportunity to meet with students, and shows Catholic institutions are fulfilling their responsibility to educate young Catholics.

“It’s a chance to meet with young people who are an integral part of the Church,” he said.

The format was a hit with the students as well.

“First of all, I like food,” said Sydney Thorne, a first-year arts student at Corpus Christi College, the Catholic liberal arts college at UBC. “But really, I was interested in being able to hear the bishop speak to us on almost a personal level. Being able to have an event like this where we can ask questions and really get… Church teaching on why we do what we do… I just think it’s awesome.”

Initially, questions posed to the archbishop were of a very broad nature, ranging from the difficulties of shepherding the archdiocese and choosing which Catholic universities students should enrol in to the canonization of saints and Catholic media.

The topics eventually narrowed to questions of Church doctrine and teaching, including those pertaining to homosexuality and the redemptive power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Diego Deleon, a third-year UBC exchange student from Mexico, was impressed by the whole event and said it was a great way to get to know local Catholic leaders.

“In Mexico, usually you talk to your local priest, because… the bishops and the cardinals usually distance themselves. It was really interesting, the fact that people had the courage to ask questions that are usually taboo,” he said.

The fruits of the day did not stop at the end of the event. The dialogue’s continuation could be seen among the students, even as they got ready to leave.

“It really got us talking beyond the event,” said Thorne.

“It’s been a half hour since (it ended) and I’ve already had three discussions with different groups of people about three different topics that are really controversial in society.”

Ultimately, Thorne hopes that such events will become more widely known to the student population and that students will come to appreciate how it opens up dialogue within the youth on Church teachings.

Miller has similar hopes.

“I hope that (students) understand… that the faith is a great heritage or river into which we move.”

(Keong, 21, is an English literature major at the University of British Columbia.)

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