Youth Speak News

As I look back over my high school career, which just ended, I realize that my fondest memories of the past four years are directly or indirectly connected to the Catholic faith.

Though not one to readily admit that I enjoy school, attending Toronto’s Brebeuf College has given me a handful of experiences that I won’t soon forget.

Scriptural reasoning movement engages students in multi-faith dialogue

religious symbolsLONDON, Ont. - A movement dedicated to studying sacred texts to promote friendship between people of different faiths hosted its first Canadian conference at Huron University College in London June 27-30.

Scriptural reasoning is a practice where Christians, Jews and Muslims study each other’s sacred texts. The goal is to give people of different faiths a way to transcend their religious differences and foster trust and understanding. This is the third scriptural reasoning conference to be hosted in North America.  

OCY welcomes young adults with open arms to annual youth rally

Union Station GroupTORONTO - The archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth is offering to fully subsidize the cost of attending its annual youth rally July 23-25 in Midland, Ont., for up to five youth from every parish in the archdiocese.

“If you have sent groups in the past we hope you will see this as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for your support.

“If you have never sent young people we hope you will take advantage of this promotion and give us the opportunity to connect with youth or young adults from your community,” the OCY said on its web site.

The archdiocesan weekend provides catechesis, prayer, Mass, live music, a movie and more, usually for teens and older youth ages 19-25. But for the first time, the OCY has also built in a special component for young adults ages 25-35.

A special priest's impact

Leading up to the close of the Year for Priests, the Vatican faced intense criticism regarding the allegations of abuse within the Church. At the closing ceremonies on June 11, Pope Benedict XVI apologized for the abuse on behalf of the Church. He asserted that the Church would do everything possible to prevent such crimes from happening again.

There are still many people, including many young people, who are weary of the Church, due to the past offences of some priests. What many people don’t realize, however, is that the number of abusive priests is miniscule compared to the number of priests and clergy who serve the community.

While it has been hard for me to stay committed to the Church in such a tragic time, I continue to remind myself of all the men and women in the Church who have positively impacted my life.

Film shows how to be human

The Human Experience MovieThe superb and thoughtful documentary The Human Experience reminds us that enduring difficulty and stepping out of one’s “comfort zone” and taking up the cross make us human.

That basic Christian idea lives on in four young men. They are brothers Jeff and Cliff Azize and their friends Matthew Sanchez and Michael Campo. These men have not only answered the call of Jesus, but have made a documentary showing how they answered it. The film made its Canadian premiere with a pre-screening in Toronto at Dante Alighieri Academy May 28. The film has gone through more than 200 pre-screenings worldwide, racked up more than 18 awards and its producers at Grassroots Films in New York are working on a deal to have it released in theatres across the United States.

The Human Experience fills hearts with emotion and heads with questions about life and the purpose of mankind. It touchingly reveals both the potential of man and the work of God.

Their journey is a long and affecting one that brings the four friends to a variety of places and connects them with a variety of people. It begins with the Azize brothers sleeping on the streets of New York City, and then caring for orphans in Peru.

Sanchez and Campo join them on their visit to a leper colony in Ghana. In addition, the Azizes reunite with their estranged father to forgive him for physically abusing them during their childhoods.

There’s a lot to like about this documentary. For one thing, it’s beautifully shot. Director Charles Kinnane takes advantage of the exotic locations found in Africa, South America and New York, treating the viewer to an array of eye-popping landscapes. The most striking settings are the chilly streets of New York, where the Azize brothers sleep in cardboard boxes to experience the ravages of homelessness.

Furthermore, Kinnane seamlessly integrates commentary from famous figures such as Rabbi Simon Jacobsen and civil rights activist Alveda King into the film, giving it an enjoyably intellectual vibe.

God in the great outdoors

I tend to look back at my childhood summer breaks as a time of genuine relaxation and renewal. When I was an elementary school student, I always looked forward to summer because it meant I would have more time to ride around on my bicycle, soar down our bumpy road with my cousin’s hand-me-down rollerblades, swim and take walks with my siblings or friends or sit outside in the sun to read a book. Because of that joyful time off, I always seemed to have more energy for doing my school work throughout the fall and winter.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that appreciating and enjoying God’s beauty in nature and in the summer weather can be a great prayer of thanksgiving — if we recognize it as such.

Game On tackles gaming addictions with humour

Jonathan AndradeWhen Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School student Jonathan Andrade took on a Grade 10 religion art class project last year, he didn’t expect to finish as a finalist in Toronto’s Hot Docs “Doc It!” showcase for documentary films by youth.

But to his surprise, he did, and last month, continued the editing process for his short film Game On in anticipation of his school’s own  ‘Just’ Docs Media Festival which takes place June 9.

“I hope they get some laughs, first of all,” Andrade said of the six-minute film. “And I hope it shows that (gaming) is a problem, even though our movie was very lighthearted.”

Faiths Act Fellows help spread the net

Tony Blair Faith FoundationSix Canadian youth of different faiths have helped the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to reach its $5-million , 500,000 malaria nets goal.

These six Faiths Act Fellows based in Toronto and Montreal were part of Canada’s inaugural Faiths Act Fellowship launched by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. The interfaith initiative paired 30 young Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Humanists and was designed to show that when people of different religions work together to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, they can have a crucial role in reducing conflict and saving lives. The students spent the past 10 months building multi-faith relationships by encouraging different faith communities to work together to raise funds and awareness to tackle malaria and other global issues.

Youth writers gather for development, faith

Youth Speak News writersThe Catholic Register played host to its Youth Speak News correspondents in Toronto for a weekend of professional development, faith deepening and fun May 28-30.

Writers on this year’s team made their way to Toronto from as far away as St. John’s, Nfld., and Saskatoon, and from various cities across Eastern Ontario to deepen their knowledge of Catholic media in Canada.

Looking to Mother Mary

While May was the month of our blessed Mother Mary, there are still many reasons to keep her in mind at the start of this new month and for the rest of our lives.

I grew up in a strong Catholic family, and my mother always emphasized the importance of our Mother in heaven. But I had never taken the time to develop that relationship with Mary any further than was necessary.

Three dioceses, one goal

Catholic music artist Jesse ManibusanWinnipeg - The last time a Tri-Diocesan Youth Rally came to Winnipeg, the city was recovering from what is now called the “Flood of the Century.” There was another flood in Winnipeg on May 14, only it wasn’t with water — it was with 700 enthusiastic 10 and 11 year old who assembled to celebrate their faith.

“(The Tri-Diocesan Youth Rallies) have been a part of our history and we wanted to keep it going,” said Elisabeth Duggan, the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese of Winnipeg. Duggan was one of three hosts and organizers of the event, along with Pierre St. Amant and Tamara Lisowski, the directors of youth ministry for the archdiocese St. Boniface and the archeparchy of Winnipeg.