Catholic speaker and musician Emily Wilson is joined on stage by young adults at the One Rock 2.0 conference in Calgary. Photo by Yuan Wang, Special to Grandin Media

Youth called to be saints at One Rock conference

By  Katherine Szojka, Canadian Catholic News Special
  • November 6, 2019

CALGARY -- Sarah Willette may be just an ordinary university student, but she felt challenged to be a saint after attending One Rock 2.0, the Diocese of Calgary’s annual young adult conference.

“For me, I’ll take away the theme of holiness, and how we can grow in holiness and that we’re all called to be saints,” said Willette, 21, a fourth-year physiology student at the University of Alberta. “I think today really nailed down for me that ordinary people can be saints.”

Over 200 young adults from across the province gathered at St Michael’s Catholic Community for the daylong conference Oct. 26. The event is a part of the diocese’s ongoing efforts to engage young adults in faith, fellowship and formation.

One Rock exists as an annual conference focused on inspiring, challenging and equipping young adults to be protagonists in the new evangelization. The event featured keynote speakers Paul J. Kim and Emily Wilson — both based in the U.S. — and Ken Yasinski, an author, speaker and songwriter from Saskatoon.

Bishop William McGrattan addressed the young adults at the conference and celebrated Mass with them.

Participants of the conference started the weekend Friday night at the Calgary Italian Cultural Centre with drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a round of speed dating to “boost marital vocations,” according to Kim.

The conference includes a vocations panel of young adults, including a priest, a religious sister and a married couple. 

“It was refreshing to listen to the panelists because I understood that no matter what your vocation ultimately is, you’re still called to love God, and it was beautiful seeing the different vocations complement each other,” said David Cholewar, 25.

“I also realized discernment doesn’t have to be a scary thing, it’s just finding out how you can best love God.”

Earlier this month, the diocese also launched the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy Centre to focus on outreach for Catholics between 18 and 35 to aid young adults seeking to deepen their faith through Mass, adoration and all-day confessions.

Young adults from the diocese are encouraged to join the chaplaincy, based at St. Bernard’s Parish, at 11 a.m. on Sundays for Mass and confession.

“I know that it is not an uncommon experience when we leave home, go to university or enter the workforce, that it doesn’t take long to fall between the cracks, even in our parish life,” said Fr. Cristino Bouvette, the vocations director for the Diocese of Calgary, who created the chaplaincy.

“And if that should ever happen, our diocese has been trying to build a net that says no one who slips through the cracks should fall very far.”

Bouvette said the chaplaincy is a way to engage young adults beyond their parish.

“There are some young adults who are being engaged by their parish, and so they have no reason to go anywhere. But for the majority of people in this demographic, they don’t feel like they fit in in their parish setting,” Bouvette said.

“So, what we are providing then is a place where young adults will be more intensely formed in their faith and thereby return to their home parish engaged and not looking to what they can get from their parish but what they can give to their parish.”

Both the participants of One Rock 2.0 conference and members of the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy look forward to meeting Catholics from many areas of Calgary.

“The chaplaincy is an important initiative in Calgary because we needed a hub for young adults in such a big city,” said Bernadette Peters, 24.

“But now that the chaplaincy centre is in place I’ve been able to meet more people. At this stage in life, people are trying to discern their vocation. How people do that is in the context of a community, and I look forward to being a part of this one.”

Cam Davies, an altar server at the St Francis Xavier Chaplaincy, said that liturgy is essential in the life of the young adult community.

“I definitely have come to have much more appreciation for traditional Masses, especially using Latin,” said the 23-year-old. “I just find it so beautiful, like chanting the Gloria. It’s just so amazing and it gives me chills every time.”

(Szojka, 18, is a writer based in Calgary. She’s a graduate of St. Gabriel Online School in St. Albert.)

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