Youth Speak News

{mosimage}Fourteen campuses across Canada celebrated Catholic Students’ Week March 23-27, hosting a variety of events that touched on catechesis, liturgy and mission.

This was the second year for the event, an initiative of the Canadian Catholic Students Association (CCSA) in collaboration with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Taizé retreat draws 300 to Saint Paul University

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The world-renowned Taizé form of prayer was practised by nearly 300 young people at Saint Paul University in Ottawa March 13-15.

Led by Brother Emile, the first Canadian to join the Taizé community as a brother in France, the retreat joined people in music, prayer and special readings, allowing them to connect with themselves and those around them. Although Brother Emile has been sharing Taizé with Canadians in retreats for more than a decade, the full weekend retreat has alternately been held in Montreal and Toronto for the past two years. This March, Brother Emile was to make only short visits to Montreal, Toronto, Peterborough and London for evening retreats.

Finding the meaning of life

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OTTAWA - In life, there are roads that lead in every direction. Some are winding, some bumpy, some smooth and some branch off in different directions. In life, there are endless choices, but we never know where these paths will lead, so for better or for worse, we choose.

We choose for different reasons, but one contributing factor in my decision-making has always been faith. When I was  in the second grade, I remember my brother had this book, Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life, which I’d sometimes steal and flip through. There was a recurring joke that said, “Turn to page ___ to find out the meaning of life.” Every time you turned to the page it listed, it would just lead you back to a different, answer-less page. I remember finding this trivial, just because (having gone to church every Sunday my whole life) I couldn’t understand why people didn’t know the meaning to life. Apparently I was the only one who knew it, and it was simple in my mind — to spread the word of the Lord.

Poor economy brings more interest in volunteering

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TORONTO - As she prepares to journey to South Africa this month, lay missionary Rachel Beggs says she is looking forward to caring for children with HIV/AIDS and teaching at a school run by the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in Marianhill, near Durban.

Beggs decided a year ago to volunteer overseas, an experience the 27-year-old piano teacher hopes  will help her find a job when she returns to Peterborough, Ont., at the end of August.

Adjusting to married life

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It amazes me: as I write this, I have been married only two and a half weeks, yet my marriage has already been full of lessons. Those who’ve been married for many years might laugh and say there are many more to come. But right now I’m incredibly excited and awestruck at the fruits brought into my life by my marriage to my husband Joseph. 

The wedding was an incredible, unforgettable day that seemed to go by too fast. It was snowy on Feb. 14, the sun illuminated the church through the stained-glass windows and the translucent material of my veil softened my view of everyone around me so that it almost didn’t seem real. The look on Joseph’s face was all that mattered to me, and as his eyes met mine, my heart actually started beating faster. It was a real-life chick-flick moment, but my reality was so much sweeter.

Scarboro Missions continues plans for youth component

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{mosimage}TORONTO - An attempt to connect youth with missionary work abroad has been put on hold as Scarboro Missions in Toronto re-evaluates its goals and financial abilities.

Scarboro Missions hired a youth liaison employee several months ago, but as Scarboro Missions identified a greater need for travel, the employee decided to pursue interests that would keep him closer to home.

Danger in censorship

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Although we live in a society that is growing increasingly accepting and we are able to discuss subjects that may be perceived as controversial, the amount of censorship that is still alive and thriving enrages me.

I can’t even read a novel such as The Wars or The Coldest Winter Ever without hearing criticism about how graphic or inappropriate the material is. I believe that controversy over a topic is the beginning of contemplation, discussion and eventually acceptance.

Retreat teaches about faith and sex

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{mosimage}Summerside, P.E.I. - Twenty young men and women from across Prince Edward Island gathered at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Centre in Summerside for a youth retreat focusing on the messages of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

The Feb. 6-8 retreat was organized by Greg Herbert, Debbie Bulger and Monique Perry, all members of Right to Life, who used video sessions from a widespread program called “Theology of the Body for Teens.” The program discusses and simplifies the concepts from John Paul II’s original teachings to help participants understand that God created humans out of love and for love, for example, and that their bodies make this call to love visible just as sacraments make spiritual truths visible.

Lent — the season of giving

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Secular society generally views the Christmas season as the season of giving but what we often forget is that giving is a big part of the Lenten season as well.

Giving is practised through alms giving, particularly during Lent because we are honouring the fact that Christ gave so much for us. As Catholics, we are all called to give in Christ’s name.

Scarborough youth diamonds in the rough

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{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s an upbeat part of the city with proud residents, but Scarborough’s lingering reputation as a bad place makes it a little too easy to overlook the booming number of active Catholic youth in the eastern part of Toronto.

While the local news stations are busy placing emphasis on the negativity that Scarborough’s past connotes, the priests and youth ministers there are hard at work, influencing the minds of the young people and transforming Scarborough youth groups into among the most active and flourishing ones in Toronto.

Pilgrimage a spiritual journey

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When I was younger I had the chance to visit Rome to climb and pray on the Santa Scala. Tradition has it that these steps were part of the praetorium of Pilate in Jerusalem and that Jesus is thought to have climbed when he was sent to Pontius Pilate to be judged. The steps are considered to be so holy that pilgrims are asked only to ascend on their knees as a sign of respect and worship.

As a child of 12, I failed to grasp the true significance of this experience. Yet despite my minimal understanding, when I participated to the best of my ability, I was still able to feel a connection with God. To this day, it is still one of my most cherished memories as a practising Catholic. At the time I had not known that I had embarked on a pilgrimage. All I understood was a deep feeling of peace and thankfulness. When many hear the word “pilgrimage,” the image that comes to mind (and at one point, my own as well) is a journey. A time to put aside our lives and travel to a country or city which houses a significant religious landmark. Unfortunately, those who use this definition may hold the mentality that they are not able to partake in one due to expense or availability.