Youth Speak News

{mosimage}THORNHILL, Ont. - Ellie Jin’s future prospects have become a little brighter now that she’s been honoured with the Loran Award.

Each year the Loran Award, the premier scholarship of The Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation , is offered to 30 students throughout Canada based not only on grades but on their character, service and leadership, academic and extra-curricular activities and a strongly developed sense of inner direction and self-government. Jin was among those chosen.

“I found it humbling and staggering at the same time,” said Jin, a Grade 12 student at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill. “I was so moved. I will always walk forward knowing that someone had believed in me and wanted to invest in me.”

What a friend we have in Jesus

It is said in a proverb: “show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” If that is the case, then I should be a music loving, fashion minded, game playing, theatre-loving person. While some of that’s true, I don’t see all of it. However, I am forgetting one important friend on that list: Jesus. It’s interesting, because I forget to include Him on my best friends’ list, but he is one of the people I speak to most in the day.

“What a friend we have in Jesus.” This famous hymn, a beautiful reminder of our friendship with Christ, was actually written as a poem in 1855 by Joseph Scriven. In 1845, he was engaged to be married, but his fiancée drowned the night before they were to be wed. He moved from Ireland to Canada to put it behind him. While in Canada, he met another woman, who he also was betrothed to, but she died of pneumonia, also before their marriage. The poem was originally titled “Pray Without Ceasing,” and was written to comfort his mother, who was still residing in Ireland. The poem was later re-titled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and music was written by Charles Converse.

Catholic Youth events cancelled for lack of interest

Every year, my diocese hosts a weekend youth retreat for high school students. I started participating when I was in Grade 9 and always counted the days until the next one. It has been a wonderful experience and has helped me to grow dramatically faith-wise.

However, this year’s retreat was cancelled due to lack of registration. The diocese needed at least 25 youth for the retreat to take place; only six signed up. When I heard the news, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe so few people were interested. It certainly wasn’t for lack of quality or hard work by the diocese, so how could it happen?

Survey looks for Catholic volunteer youth ministers

{mosimage}A national online study of the roles and needs of youth ministers completed last year has been revived in the hopes of reaching a greater percentage of volunteer youth ministers.

The survey, available online at or in French at , was launched again to get a better idea of the needs of volunteers since nearly 90 per cent of respondents to the original survey were paid youth ministers. Volunteer youth ministers may not necessarily have the same training or access to training resources, said Fr. Daniel Renaud, a professor at Saint Paul University in Ottawa who teaches a theology course in youth ministry.

Canadian Catholic Students' Week celebrated

{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

{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

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

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

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

{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

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.