Youth Speak News

{mosimage}TORONTO - As two buses pulled into the parking lot of St. Benedict’s parish on Nov. 29, a group of 60 Grade 11 students from Catholic secondary schools across Toronto began “a new chapter of their lives.”

The students, who had spent the previous weekend on a Salesian Leadership Retreat north of Toronto, returned “lighter,” said Atrin Parastesh, a retreatant from Bishop Allen Academy.

Changing your water to wine

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A wise priest recently asked me to reflect on the Wedding at Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle.

At Cana, when, to their great shame, the hosts of the wedding run out of wine, Mary informs Jesus of the situation and then tells the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Jesus guides every step from then onward until He miraculously turns the water into the very best wine.

Jesus Youth leader, George Devassy, found God early

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{mosimage}Born and raised in India, George Devassy has a real passion for the youth and for his faith as a Catholic. And it is this passion that led him to become the international co-ordinator of the Jesus Youth lay movement at the age of 26.

Jesus Youth was established during the World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. Jesus Youth Canada has a charismatic spirituality and adopts a lifestyle of personal prayer, the Word of God, sacraments, fellowship, service and evangelization. Originating from India, Jesus Youth is now active in 24 countries and continues to serve the church.

Patrick Hanlon is dedicated to the service of life

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{mosimage}ST. JOHN’S Nfld. - When Patrick Hanlon was a young man, he heard a very disturbing comment. He was walking with his mother and mentally and physically disabled sister, when he heard people say behind her back, “Wouldn’t she be better off dead?”

Hanlon was horrified to think that some people didn’t consider the sister he loved so dearly worthy of life.

Mississauga youth host families in transition

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{mosimage} MISSISSAUGA, Ont.  - When asked about the conflicts she faced in her home country of Nigeria, J.P., who did not wish to disclose her full name, was shaken up in discussing an unjust past she has worked hard to put behind her. Hers is a story of courage and determination shared by 135 refugees who attended the seventh annual Family Faith Night dinner and talent show at St. Marcellinus Catholic Secondary School  Nov. 26.

J.P. came to Canada in 2001, a process that was far from easy. Along with her two sons, Kenny, seven, and Alex, 12, J.P. found support and comfort in Sojourn House, a “short-term shelter for refugees who have no option to stay somewhere decent, and a transitional house that provides a longer-time stay for refugees who have experienced trauma,” said Everton Gordon, the shelter manager.

Real love is about more than fleeting symbols

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Love: it’s a simple four-letter word, often misused, that brings to mind the picturesque image of a couple frolicking towards each other through a meadow of sunflowers. If that’s what love really is, I wouldn’t understand why everyone was chasing after it. Especially since sunflowers attract bees and various other buzzing insects.

As a Catholic teen, I am often conflicted between the difference between God’s love and the world’s idea of love. At first glance, the worldly love seems much more interesting. Red roses, candy hearts with cheesy lines and love letters. They are all symbols of love given to someone. However, I noticed, even as a child, that these symbols quickly fade: the red roses wilt and turn brown, the candy hearts are eaten and the love letter is often torn in two or forgotten.

Learning to 'be me' in Christ

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My family billeted a group of young adults at our house for one night this month. Because I didn’t know any of them, I was afraid that I would be rejected and I felt very shy and insecure inside.

During the evening I went down to the basement to get something, and as I walked, I asked Jesus to help me be myself around them. I heard His voice speak very clearly in my heart.

Students learn to strive for sainthood

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{mosimage}OAKVILLE, Ont. - The importance of going to Mass and God’s plan for their sainthood became clear to Grade 8 students from the Halton Region through dynamic presentations to boost their faith.

The Halton Catholic District School Board’s 2,100 Grade 8 students were welcomed to Mary Mother of God parish in Oakville for the board’s first youth leadership rally Nov. 17-19.

St. Patrick's student to hoist Olympic torch

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{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s an Olympic dream come true for 15-year-old Toronto student Luis Santiago-Gonsalves.

Although he’s not competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Grade 10 student at Toronto’s St. Patrick’s High School is going to be part of the Olympic legacy. He was recently chosen to carry the Olympic torch during its cross-Canada stop in Toronto on Dec. 17.

Choose a pro-life mission wisely

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Adults often call youth the “church of tomorrow,” but on the pro-life front youth are already very much the church of today as they influence others on campuses across Canada as only peers can.

Campus pro-life clubs are effective because every effort and event reaches the target demographic. Statistics show young adults are more likely to procure abortions than any other demographic.

OCY already gearing up for WYD 2011 in Spain

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The Office of Catholic Youth of the archdiocese of Toronto has unveiled its travel plans for World Youth Day 2011, including details about four major formation events.

The trip will begin with two days in Rome in early August, where pilgrims will visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. The next five days will be spent in Cintruenigo, Spain, for “days in the diocese” where pilgrims will pray and interact with a local parish and its families, followed by seven days in Madrid Aug. 15-21 for the World Youth Day celebrations. The OCY will take a maximum of 120 pilgrims between the ages of 18-35.