Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 14, 2005
Students hold national bilingual conference
By JARRETT MORRISON
Special to the WCR
Catholic students from across Canada got together here last month for their first-ever national bilingual conference.
About 170 participants - post-secondary students with their campus ministers - braved the perilous Canadian winter for the gathering of the Canadian Catholic Student Association.
While keynote sessions and Eucharistic celebrations had concurrent translation, other sessions were unilingual, which meant limited participation.
Francophone students, however, applauded the efforts made to promote bilingualism within the CCSA and agreed to continue to participate as long as they feel an invitation to do so. To the benefit of the association, nearly two-thirds of the new executive are bilingual.
The Jan. 13-16 conference was the first national get-together of Canadian Catholic students in five years. Bishop Paul-André Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ont., and Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City were among those attending.
The four-day event, with the theme Upon this Rock - Surcette Pierre focused on leadership development, with attention to local, national and international scenes. Workshops covered a range of interests: developing a personal leadership style, prayer through art, campus Development & Peace, sexuality, and other topics.
Sister Francine Guilmette, coordinator of World Youth Day activities for the Archdiocese of Montreal, was impressed by the student response.
"They were right into the being a leader as opposed to just doing stuff that leaders do. I was particularly impressed by the depth and the kind of interaction, the openness, their desire to be who they are meant to be."
Amanda Ward, secondary school teacher and CCSA alumna, spoke to the positive effect of her involvement with the organization.
"CCSA really changed my life," said Ward. "I was missing something and it provided me with that avenue to explore my faith, in both social justice and in the traditional faith experience in a church setting. It helped to anchor me when I needed that foundation."
Mike MacKinnon, a student at Dalhousie University and new executive member, felt CCSA's immediate challenge was that of marketing. "I don't think students are always aware that there is a Catholic student association. The CCSA needs to tell students, in a short version, what it is and what they do, and bam! the students know what it is."
His comments speak to an ongoing issue for the CCSA, that of high turnover. With an average of four years university life for students, the importance of communicating mission and replenishing membership becomes paramount for the association's growth.
National chaplain Rick Benson was euphoric about the conference. "I think this has been a fantastic experience for all of us. The leadership has been unbelievable within the team, with the incoming team, and so many individuals and campuses have already shown terrific energy. So we're living what Christ is calling us to do with this leadership conference. Dynamite!"
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