Worship leaders Ben Walther and Lisa Renee perform at Steubenville Toronto in 2019. The conference is back live again after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Photo by Julius Gracian Photography

Steubenville Toronto to make 2022 return

By 
  • April 20, 2022

Barring a sudden, misfortunate shift in the COVID-19 pandemic trajectory, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY) is poised to resuscitate Steubenville Toronto, Canada’s largest conference for Catholic teens, this summer.

For organizers, planning to host a Steubenville Conference again after a two-summer hiatus is an exciting enterprise.

“While we’ve been forced to stay apart for the past few summers, we are all looking forward to finally coming together and journeying closer to Christ with our young people through this amazing weekend conference experience,” said Courtney Hennessy, the OCY’s event and program coordinator.

“Steubenville Toronto began in 2014 to provide teens with an experience to encounter Jesus in a new way — needless to say, we are thrilled that we can make that opportunity a reality this year.”

Hennessy said securing group and individual registrations of Grade 9-12 teens is the chief focus for the event planners at this juncture. The registration window opened on March 1 for this event that will be staged in the auditorium of Canada Christian College in Whitby, Ont., from July 15-17. From 2016-19, Steubenville Toronto was hosted at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa.

Given that some group leaders might still be uncomfortable with overnight events because of the lingering pandemic, they have the option to exclusively attend Saturday’s portion of the conference for $210. A full weekend pass costs $240 per person.

A ministry team has already been assembled. Dan Harms, a Catholic speaker and musician based in Richmond, Virginia, will serve as the conference host. Harms attended his first Steubenville Conference back in 2000. Other speakers at Steubenville Toronto 2022 include Katie Prejean McGrady, an author and host of the Katie McGrady Show on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, and Brian Greenfield, a longtime Catholic speaker who once entered the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

While the slate of speakers is American, the ministry team will feature Canadian flavour as the Toronto-based band Steadfast Worship is taking charge of the conference’s musical aspect.

Collaborative work with the Franciscan University of Steubenville and the other regional conference sites throughout North America was completed to finalize an overriding theme statement for all Steubenville gatherings in 2022. The 2022 theme, inspired by John 16:33, is “We are called to be fearless.”

“Throughout the Bible, the Lord tells us over and over again, ‘Be not afraid,’ and He continues to speak these words to us today,” said Hennessy. “Our hope is that thousands of teens this summer will experience the peace of Jesus Christ, who is always faithful and will never abandon us.”

Hennessy said the purpose driving the planning for Steubenville Toronto experience is to foster an environment that stirs transformative experiences.

“The ultimate goal of a Steubenville Conference is a life-changing encounter with Christ,” she said. “We want the teens to fall in love with Christ, to have their hearts changed and to gain the strength and courage to share their love of God with others. We want to make sure that every teen knows that they belong and that they are not only wanted, but that they are loved by God. We trust that through this sense of belonging, grace will be allowed to move and faith will begin to grow in the hearts of those that attend.”

The next stage of the planning process commences on April 25 when the application process opens for prospective volunteers.

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