The Newman Centre, a Catholic hub for students on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, attracts students from local community colleges that don’t have their own chaplaincies. Photo courtesy of the Newman Centre

College students flock to university campus for faith

By  Clare Bekkers, Youth Speak News
  • October 3, 2014

College students in Toronto are turning to local universities for what’s lacking on their own school campuses — Catholic chaplaincies. 

Alvina D’Souza, a second-year accounting student from George Brown College, moved to Toronto from India where her faith was already strong thanks to her supportive family. But George Brown couldn’t offer her what she was actively seeking in her new life in Canada — a place to openly share her firm conviction in Christ. 

Through a friend, D’Souza was connected with the Newman Centre, the campus chaplaincy at the University of Toronto. The centre is a 20-minute subway ride away. At the Newman Centre D’Souza says she was quickly welcomed by the overwhelming love and support the chaplaincy offered her and soon she became a Student Campus Minister while remaining a student at George Brown. 

“The chaplaincy at U of T has greatly deepened my faith. Being able to relate to other students my own age who are passionate about Jesus is really great,” said D’Souza. “God will give you the desires of your heart.” 

A gift and a challenge of being involved with the campus ministry was the ability “to be a witness to Christ’s love. I learned how to evangelize by interacting with students who share the same beliefs as me and live it out,” said D’Souza. 

Chris Au, a second-year classical pianist studying at The Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto, found himself in the same position. Originally from Australia, Au was accustomed to being a part of his local ministry team, but his school in Toronto didn’t give him the same kind of opportunities to share his faith and musical talents for Jesus. 

Five days after moving to Toronto, Au stumbled upon the Newman Centre while exploring the city. An eight-minute walk was all that separated him from what he had been searching for. He began to attend Newman events and help out with the music ministry. 

“Working with people (at the Newman Centre) gave me purpose,” Au said. “It was amazing to just let things go, to release and refocus in a group of Catholic youth your own age who hold the same purpose, the same goals… who gather together so you know you are not alone.” 

Au also identified with the Newman Centre’s practice of connecting the spiritual with the intellectual. 

“It is refreshing to be able to be intellectually engaged, philosophically and theologically at the university level. I was hooked in by the Theology of the Body because it relates to the real life challenges of today and offers solutions. It aids the whole experience,” Au said. 

(Bekkers, 20, is a third-year English student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.) 

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