Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2010
Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry creates a fresh vision
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry (CCCM) has a fresh vision for helping Catholic students in the sometimes-hostile university environment.
Many students "face judgment" and even being ostracized for being Catholic, said CCCM coordinator Lori Neale.
CCCM aims to create a community of purpose and direction through offering many different avenues for students to explore their unique gifts so they can become comfortable with their Catholic identity, she said.
The vision includes a "strategic direction" that makes available a visual model of a circle with Christ at its centre that shows how campus ministry in areas such as ecumenism, social justice and catechesis - 12 elements in all - can be developed on campus, said Oblate Father Daniel Renaud, the new chair of the CCCM board of directors.
What happens on campus has "a lasting impact" on how Catholics are "discerning their lives" and "how the Church is present to them," said Renaud, who is also chaplain of Saint Paul University in Ottawa.
Students often are so focused on their studies that their main experience of the Catholic faith comes through campus ministries, not parishes, he said.
CCCM's comprehensive approach includes a range of Catholic campus organizations, such as the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) involved in social justice, and Catholic Christian Outreach, involved in evangelization and Newman Centres, which provide pastoral care and ministry.
It also coordinates with other groups with a campus presence, such as St. Vincent de Paul societies, the Catholic Women's League, Knights of Columbus, L'Arche and various religious congregations and ministries to the poor.
Renaud said many students discover their vocation through "something they live," especially through exercising leadership.
Neale said students are "looking for witnesses" to help them discern what they are going to do with their lives and how they can contribute to the world.
They are hungry for a community of faith that will involve their whole selves, she said. "Their lives are disjointed and they're looking for a place where they can bring all of themselves."
Renaud said students need a space to ask questions about what it means to be Catholic, how can they make a difference, and how they can put their faith life and everyday life together.
Neale found her faith deepened through her own involvement with CCODP while attending St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.
Renaud and other members of the executive recently went on a 10-day visit to CCODP partner Caritas Honduras, which enabled them to witness the Church contributing to development and solidarity.
The trip also helped him see what impact mission trips might have on students if they are reflected upon them afterwards from a faith perspective.
The CCCM website is www.cccm.ca.
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