Young adults at One Rock conference called to be saints in their own way

01 November 2019

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Sarah Willette may be just an ordinary university student, but felt challenged to be a saint after attending One Rock 2.0, the Diocese of Calgary’s annual young adult conference.

“For me, I’ll take away the theme of holiness, and how we can grow in holiness and that we’re all called to be saints,” said Willette, 21, a fourth-year physiology student at the University of Alberta. “I think today really nailed down for me that ordinary people can be saints.”

Over 200 young adults attended this year’s One Rock 2.0 conference.

Over 200 young adults from across the province gathered at St Michael’s Catholic Community for the daylong conference Oct. 26. The event is a part of the Diocese of Calgary’s ongoing efforts to engage young adults in faith, fellowship, and formation.

One Rock exists as an annual conference focused on inspiring, challenging, and equipping young adults to be protagonists in the new evangelization. The event was hosted by keynote speakers Paul J. Kim and Emily Wilson – both based in the U.S. – and Ken Yasinski, an author, speaker and songwriter from Saskatoon.

Bishop William McGrattan addressed the young adults at the conference and celebrated Mass with them.

Paul J. Kim, one of the keynote speakers, organized a social event prior to the One Rock conference.

Participants of the conference started the weekend Friday night at the Calgary Italian Cultural Centre with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a round of speed dating to “boost marital vocations,” according to Kim.

The conference includes a vocations panel of young adults, including a priest, a religious sister, and a married couple. The four discussed how they discerned their respective vocations and how their roles in society interact.

“It was refreshing to listen to the panelists because I understood that no matter what your vocation ultimately is, you’re still called to love God, and it was beautiful seeing the different vocations complement each other,” said David Cholewar, 25.

“I also realized discernment doesn’t have to be a scary thing, it’s just finding out how you can best love God.”

Earlier this month, the diocese also launched the St Francis Xavier Chaplaincy Centre to focus on outreach for young adults between 18 and 35 to aid young adults seeking to deepen their faith through Mass, Adoration, and all-day Confessions.

Young adults from the Diocese of Calgary are encouraged to join the chaplaincy, based at St. Bernard’s Parish, at 11 am on Sundays for Mass and confession.

“I know that it is not an uncommon experience when we leave home, go to university, or enter the workforce, that it doesn’t take long to fall between the cracks, even in our parish life,” said Rev. Cristino Bouvette, the vocations director for the Diocese of Calgary, who created the chaplaincy.

“And if that should ever happen, our diocese has been trying to build a net that says no one who slips through the cracks should fall very far.”

Rev. Cristino Bouvette created the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy in Calgary.

Father Bouvette said the chaplaincy is a way to engage young adults beyond their parish.

“There are some young adults who are being engaged by their parish, and so they have no reason to go anywhere. But for the majority of people in this demographic, they don’t feel like they fit in in their parish setting,” Bouvette said.

“So, what we are providing then is a place where young adults will be more intensely formed in their faith and thereby return to their home parish engaged and not looking to what they can get from their parish but what they can give to their parish.”

The St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy is reaching out to young people who don’t fit into a traditional parish setting.

Both the participants of One Rock 2.0 conference and members of the St Francis Xavier Chaplaincy look forward to meeting Catholics from many areas of Calgary.

“The chaplaincy is an important initiative in Calgary because we needed a hub for young adults in such a big city,” said Bernadette Peters, 24.

“But now that the chaplaincy centre is in place I’ve been able to meet more people. At this stage in life, people are trying to discern their vocation, how people do that is in the context of a community, and I look forward to being a part of this one.”

Cam Davies, an altar server at the St Francis Xavier Chaplaincy, said that liturgy is essential in the life of the young adult community.

“I definitely have come to have much more appreciation for traditional Masses, especially using Latin,” said the 23-year-old, “I just find it so beautiful, like chanting the Gloria. It’s just so amazing and it gives me chills every time.”

-Katherine Szojka, 18, is a writer based in Calgary. She’s a graduate of St. Gabriel Online School in St. Albert.