Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 12, 2007
Coffee house series reaches youth seeking God's plan
Everyone has a vocation, says sister
"We wanted to create a culture of vocation."
Sr. Pat Desnoyers
By ALICIA AMBROSIO
WCR Staff Writer
On a blustery night in Edmonton, a group of about 15 people have braved the winds and are seated in a softly lit cafŃ, chatting quietly and sipping warm drinks. This could be any downtown coffee house, where the regulars come out, regardless of the weather, for their daily coffee fix and friendly chat.
This "coffee house," however, is located in the parish hall of St. Joseph's Basilica and the "regulars" are actually a mix of young and old people who are searching for their call in life. The Archdiocese of Edmonton's Committee for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life has organized the evening.
Inspired by the popular Theology on Tap, a speaker and conversation series for people in their 20s and 30s to learn more about the Catholic faith, the coffee house series is aimed at a similar age group.
Understanding God's call
The difference is that organizers of this series hope to help these young adults understand what God is calling them to do with their lives.
"We wanted to create a culture of vocation," Sister Pat Desnoyers told the WCR. Theology on Tap served as an inspiration for the coffee house series, lending the idea of holding sessions in an environment where young people would normally meet up, like a coffee house.
However, Theology on Tap was offered as a one shot deal - only one series per year. The Vocations Committee realized that in order to create a "culture of vocation" it would be necessary to have something going on all the time, said Desnoyers, a Faithful Companion of Jesus sister.
In 2006 the coffee house series was offered for the first time, with various events beginning in November and running through June. This year, the organizers have honed the schedule, dropping the events in May and June because most participants are students.
This November the talks touch on general topics tied to vocation and calling, while the talks in the spring focus in on specific aspects, such as community life, obedience and chastity, said Desnoyers.
Although some topics may seem geared towards the priesthood or religious life, participants also have a chance to hear members of secular institutes, and married people share their experiences.
The aim, said Desnoyers, is to show participants the full spectrum of what a vocation can be, and then help them narrow it down to "What does that mean for me?"
An important part of that process is having good spiritual direction, "someone to walk the journey with you," Desnoyers said.
Although the Vocations Committee has not formalized the process of connecting discerning young people with spiritual directors, Desnoyers said when a return participant shows the need to talk about their interior search, Vocation Committee members either make themselves available for that person or get them in touch with someone else who would be a good director for that person.
"We realized that we don't have to go out searching for spiritual directors, we have so many people on our committee who are able to provide spiritual direction, or know someone who can, that we can arrange it quickly."
The topics for the coffee house series this year takes its inspiration from the Eucharistic Congress to be held in Quebec City in June 2008. The Nov. 1 session featured Sister Mary Coswin, who spoke about Eucharist and Mission.
Vocation to follow Jesus
Coswin told the crowd that everyone has a vocation. Baptized Christians first and foremost have a vocation to follow Jesus, to "be Church, be a community of faith."
The Eucharist is central to carrying out one's vocation because it transforms us. Because we are transformed the world is transformed through us, said Coswin, a Benedictine sister. "We become what we receive."
Quoting Pope John Paul II she said, "with the Eucharist we digest the secret of the resurrection" and become like Christ.
"The Eucharist is not meant to be a private devotion," she said. Instead we are to take what we have been given by God - be it bread or talents - and like Jesus, give thanks for what we have been given and then share it with others.
Eucharist at centre
Through the celebration of the Eucharist as a sacrament one becomes like Jesus. By taking what God gives us, giving thanks and sharing it with others one finds one's own personal vocation, whatever that might be, she said.
The next coffee house session will be Nov. 15, when Brother Gerry Clyne will speak on Eucharist and Prayer. On Nov. 29 Sandy Prather will conduct a session on Eucharist and Everyday Life.
For more information contact Father Patrick Baska at 469-1010 or Sister Pat Desnoyers at 437-9090.