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{mosimage}TORONTO - A Lenten/Mardi Gras retreat for teens will take place in Orillia, Ont., this year, as the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth strives to be more inclusive of its northern parishioners.

About 100 teens are expected to attend the Feb. 20-22 retreat which will feature a Mardi Gras dinner and dance on the Saturday night. They will experience catechesis sessions led by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Peter Hundt at The Highwayman Inn & Conference Centre where the retreat takes place. They will be offered opportunities to deepen their faith in preparation for Lent with the help of a local music ministry team.

Goodness, discipline and knowledge

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is one of four honorary mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Patrick Colangelo, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto.

Throughout the ages, Christians have been subjected to anguish, affliction and adversity at the hands of autocrats as a result of their faith and devotion in Christ. These martyrs of the faith are worthy of praise and recognition for their valour, pertinacity and fortitude during these despondent times.

Students learn leadership skills through humour

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Breakdancers, beatboxers and speakers took to the stage to entertain and motivate more than 460 elementary school students for the Intermediate Leaders in Training Event Jan. 30.

The event, held at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton High School in Toronto, was the first leadership conference of its kind for Grade 7 and 8 students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

After students were led in a morning prayer, Bilaal Rajan, a 12-year-old motivational speaker and published Toronto author, encouraged students to follow their dream of making a difference.

Friendship first, dating later

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“Sam, do you have a boyfriend yet?” I hear this question more times than you would think. Most people are surprised that I have never gone on a date in all of my 16 years. I find that most people are confused by this, both people my own age and adults.

In today’s society, usually the idea is that if you are single you should be searching for a relationship because you can’t possibly live happily without one. I know that not every person believes this, but it can be seen in our books, movies, television, music and daily lives. The belief is that we can’t be content as singles. But is that really true?

Pro-life students face trespassing charges

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{mosimage}The University of Calgary has charged pro-life students with trespassing on campus for a controversial display they set up in November.

Members of the student club Campus Pro-Life (CPL) had set up a Genocide Awareness Project display Nov. 26 and 27 despite threats from the university of suspension, expulsion or arrest. The display included graphic images of aborted fetuses.

Christians must live by example

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is one of four honorary mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Anthony Labriola, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in Oshawa.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus shattered cultural precepts. He ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes, acting as physician to the spiritually ailing. His gift of salvation has not been reserved for a select group. Even those who persecuted Christ at Calvary were not excluded from His prayers or beyond the reach of His compassion.

Teopoli camp seeking counsellors

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{mosimage}GRAVENHURST, Ont. - The Teopoli Summer Experience, like a summer kids camp but with spiritual formation, is currently recruiting counsellors (teachers), lifeguards and health care professionals to make this 33-year-old tradition continue.

The camp offers swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, sports, music, culture, drama, theology, daily Holy Mass and rosary.

Uniting witnesses on campus

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{mosimage}ANCASTER, Ont. - “Thank you, Lord, for giving us food!” A chorus of voices could be heard down the main hall of Mount Mary Retreat Centre , as students sang “superman grace” at lunch time.

Sixty university students from across Canada had arrived, filled with enthusiasm, for the “Come to the Living Stone” conference in Ancaster, Ont. Jan. 22-25. This bi-annual student leadership conference, hosted by the Canadian Catholic Student Association , enabled student leaders to share a weekend of workshops, keynote addresses by vocational directors and youth workers, prayer, music, friendship and other activities.

Caring about the family

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Family. There is nothing so precious in this world as your family. While this may sound cliché and overused, it is true.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a family is “a group of individuals under one roof and usually under one head.” However, the most appropriate definition I believe is “a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation.” I think this comes closer to the family that I am a part of. Whether it is saying “Grace” together before meals, sharing a prayer during the hard times or simply celebrating the Eucharist together at Mass, it adds only to the layers of family I share in.

Engaging youth 'COR' of program's success

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{mosimage}KING CITY, Ont. - Parish youth groups and yearly events can and often do fade into non-existence after a few years. Leaders burn out, decide to move on or simply aren’t getting the assistance they need.

But that isn’t the case with the Christ in Others Retreat held every year in King City, Ont., just north of Toronto. The community has been hosting its series of COR non-stop since 1984 with the leadership of Fr. John Yake, chaplain at Villanova College.

Christians must lead way to unity

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is the second place winner of the Friars’ Student Writing Award sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Victoria Huryn, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Toronto’s Hawthorn School For Girls. The contest is held in conjunction with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. All six winning essays are to be published.

One — a word undeniably miniscule in quantitative terms, it nevertheless is of no small consequence. It is a term of unity, of singleness of purpose, of affiliation, of federation, of partnership, of alliance. As such, when the words of the prophet Ezekiel, “That they may be one in Your hands,” are brought to the forefront of one’s thoughts, the word one assumes a far grander connotation — in today’s society, one almost daunting.