Participants gather at Catholic Christian Outreach’s 2011 Rise Up Conference in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of the CCO

Youth ‘Rise Up’ to party in two cities

By  Emma Brown, Youth Speak News
  • December 14, 2012

Catholic Christian Outreach will open up its annual Rise Up conference to more people this year by hosting events in two locations.

The annual conference will be held Dec. 28-Jan. 1 in Saskatoon and Halifax. First held in 2000, Rise Up has grown to the point that it needed two conferences to support the large numbers. Last year, 600 people attended the event in Vancouver.

“We were finding that when the conference was in the west, for example, the majority of attendees were from the west and vice versa,” explained Katie Lebrun, who works in Missions and Conferences at CCO, a student movement on campuses across Canada dedicated to challenging young people to “live in the fullness of the Catholic faith.”

“We wanted to make it more accessible so that more students could come.”

Rise Up includes speakers, adoration, a live worship band and a New Year’s banquet and dance.

“I think it’s a really good idea because it reaches out to more people,” said Selina De Luca, a fourth-year student at the University of Ottawa, who attended Rise Up in 2010.

Reaching out to more people is a key part of CCO’s mission. To “reach the world” is one of its five founding tenets.

“Our heart and concern is for all people to be saved by Christ,” wrote CCO co-founder André Regnier.

CCO recently announced it will be expanding to Toronto’s Ryerson University next fall, giving the movement a presence on 11 campuses across Canada.

Even though there are two conferences, CCO doesn’t want the events to feel disjointed, said Lebrun.

“We still want to create a national feel through live streaming different aspects.”

De Luca thinks the live streaming will be a nice touch because participants will feel connected to people halfway across the country and see that they’re sharing a similar experience.

The two conferences are expected to be smaller than the single national one.

“People who have been to previous Rise Up’s will notice a difference,” said Lebrun. “But the essence, the purpose, the heart of Rise Up will be the same.”

De Luca beams when she recounts her experience at Rise Up. She remembers thinking, “Wow, there are so many young people who want to be here for God.” She said the most powerful part of Rise Up was the experience of being overwhelmed by God’s love.

The theme for both Rise Up conferences is “Fiat: A Yes Can Change the World.” CCO’s web site explains that the theme is inspired by Mary’s “yes” to God: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38).

The conference is a “call to action” for participants to give God permission to act in their own lives, said Lebrun. She hopes that by having two smaller conferences, participants will feel a greater sense of responsibility to respond to this call.

Rise Up will return to one location next year, in honour of CCO’s 25th anniversary. After that, CCO will decide whether to continue holding Rise Up in one location or two, said Lebrun.

De Luca encourages people to attend this year.

“You don’t know what it’s going to be like until you go,” she said, “It’s worth joining in the excitement by experiencing it yourself.”

Registration is open to anyone aged 18-35. For more information or to register, visit www.riseup.cco.ca.

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