Nearly two dozen post-secondary student leaders, and a handful of supporting faculty from Catholic Student Associations across Western Canada met in an online conference Jan. 14-16 to help facilitate spiritual growth on their campuses.
Among the speakers were Rev. Jim Stenberg, chaplain at St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta associate dean Indre Cuplinskas, Evergreen Catholic Schools chaplain Mike Landry, and St. Joseph College students Larissa Mitchell and Cole Merkosky.
Catholic Student Associations participating this year included the St. Joseph College (Edmonton), Augustana Campus, the University of Regina, St. Mary’s University (Calgary), and St. Thomas More College (Saskatoon).
Mike Landry shared his personal testimony of faith and the impact of youth and young adult ministry on his life.
Landry focused his talk on relational ministry, which he described as meeting people where they are in their faith journey using empathetic means.
He presented the narrative in St. Luke’s Gospel of the road to Emmaus, as an ultimate biblical example of relational ministry. “Jesus meets them there on the road headed in the wrong direction” … “Jesus listens, and finally brings them back to Emmaus,” Landry said.
Carly Serke, a kinesiology student at the University of Saskatchewan, said that Landry’s talk was inspiring in helping her to “recognize and appreciate the people that are constantly by your side. It’s easy to be grateful when you’re celebrating but we need to be thankful for others even in difficult times.”
Gabrielle Kramer found a nugget to take away from another session led by Father Jim Stenberg, “I always enjoy listening to Father Jim speak and I love (author) C.S. Lewis so that made it even more enjoyable!” … “ I definitely see that in our world with people choosing to be satisfied with things of this world without realizing that there’s so much God wants to give us!”
Kramer is a fourth-year Bachelor of Secondary Education student at the University of Alberta.
As a Catholic on campus, Kramer says that “It’s amazing just having St. Joseph’s College at the centre of campus, honestly. It feels like I have a mini home on campus where I can go in and breathe and know that there is love and support and prayer all around me.”
Having a Catholic Students Association certainly helps for her as well, “The biggest benefit that I see is forming relationships with other people that are passionate about spreading the faith and loving on others!”
Serke will be bringing back what they learned during the conference to their Catholic Student Associations and campuses.
The conference helped Kramer “realize that we as a CSA team need to do our best to show U of A students that there is more that life has to offer, and more that God has to offer.”
“We do not grow in comfortable positions,” Serke added. “We spend a lot of our lives perfecting routines so that we are comfortable, but then we never have the chance to adapt or change. I’m going to take this idea back home to Saskatoon and challenge my peers to get out of their comfort zones in all aspects of their lives, especially their faith.”
-Lincoln Ho is a communications co-oordinator for the Archdiocese of Edmonton