UVic Catholic activist lives out the faith

By  Bronwyn Lawrie, Youth Speak News
  • November 16, 2011

VICTORIA, B.C. - Calling Katrina Laquian busy is an understatement. Already external affairs officer for the Canadian Catholic Student Association (CCSA), the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s youth representative for the diocese of Victoria and co-youth representative for the B.C./Yukon region, Laquian, 23, is the newly elected North American co-ordinator for the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS).

A fourth-year sociology student at the University of Victoria, Laquian laughed when asked about how she keeps balanced.

“I just don’t stress any more,” she said.  “I’ve come to a point where I know that things are out of my control and I just need to let go and let God.”

Started in 1921 as a reaction against the brutality of the First World War, IMCS-Pax Romana consists of 80 organizations representing national Catholic student movements. Its main mission is to promote peace and justice around the globe by mobilizing Catholic students to live a faith of action. As North American co-ordinator, Laquian facilitates communication between the national movements in North America and the global Catholic student movement.

“The realities are so different in each of the movements, but being part of IMCS helps you live in solidarity with students around the globe,” said Laquian. “The issues of peace, justice and solidarity are what bring us together — they are what we commit to as students around the globe and are at the heart of what Pax Romana is.”

The co-ordinator position rotates between the CCSA and the American National Catholic Student Coalition every two years. Laquian will facilitate communication between the IMCS and movements in North America, organize events open to national and international members and act in solidarity with other global Catholic student movements. 

“Campuses are more and more secularized now and it’s really important to have an environment where students can explore their identity as Catholics,” said Laquian. “(In Canada), we can protest on our campus, we can get a referendum into motion if we get petitions, but in some place like Malaysia it can end in violence. It’s really important that we are aware of what’s happening around the world because we are one body and one community.”

The co-ordinator also takes a leading role in organizing a yearly study session with the United Nations IMCS team. Since 1949, IMCS has acted as a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the UN’s Department of Public Information and UNESCO, the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization. The next session’s theme is the eradication of poverty, and participants will also have the opportunity to visit the Holy See’s UN mission. It will take place at the UN in New York March 14-16.

“Attending the study session last year was a really valuable experience,” said Laquian. “Sometimes people are uncomfortable about things put forward by the Holy See mission or by Catholic organizations represented at the UN in general, but it’s not because we’re Catholic — what we say is right and they know it’s right. It’s just really hard to implement things that we want to just because of the way our society is structured right now. That’s good to know.”

Laquian represented Canada at the 2011 IMCS World Assembly. She draws inspiration from her friends and colleagues in the global Catholic community.

“It’s great to see other youth who aren’t afraid to, say, post a Bible quote on Facebook,” she said. “Celebrate who you are as a Catholic and be proud of who you are.”

In December, Laquian will be one of four Canadian delegates attending the Third World Congress of the Pontifical Council on the theme of the pastoral care of international students. 

“We are the Church, we are mission and so we need to support ourselves to being closer in that community,” she said. “Be active in your community and active in the way you live out your faith.”

(Lawrie, 20, is a creative writing major at the University of Victoria. Read her full profile at youthspeaknews.org.)

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