By: Lorelei Kenny
This past weekend the UPEI Catholic Student Association hosted the National Canadian Catholic Student Association (CCSA) conference. The conference is a time of fellowship where students from dozens of Canadian campuses gather together to pray, worship and further educate themselves on the Catholic faith. It is an opportunity to build long lasting connections between students across CCSA. The conference is also a time of prayer, volunteerism, education and is used as a way to gather everyone for annual general meeting.
There was the opportunity to attend four talks and two workshops throughout the course of the conference. Two talks were given by Dr. Moira McQueen, the director of Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institution. Dr. McQueen served as a lawyer for several years, specializing in family law and juvenile court, and since 1994 has been teaching moral theology at the Faculty of Theology. In 2014, she was appointed to the International Theological Commission by Pope Francis. Her first talk addressed the moral and social repercussions of physician-assisted suicide and the second talk addressed recognizing truth.
The third talk was given by UPEI’s campus minister Fr. John Lacey who spoke on how to be instruments of ministry on campus. He talked about the different corporal and spiritual works of mercy and gave ideas on how to live out these works on campus and in the community. On Saturday morning students split into groups and went out into Charlottetown to live out these works of mercy by volunteering at a variety of organizations including Salvation Army, Anderson House, Island Pregnancy Centre, and Lacey House.
The last talk was given by Joanne Mawhinney a middle school teacher at Emmanuel Christian School. Mrs. Mawhinney spoke on why Christians should most definitely study science, refuting the widely accepted misconception that faith and science are constantly butting heads. She shared her journey of discovering the deep relationship between God and science, with a special focus on her experiences at the Vatican Observatory in Arizona.
Between talks, workshops were offered on Peace and Development, Theology of the Body and Evangelization for the Pro-Life movement. The purpose of these workshops was to equip students with the information they would need to go out into the world and stand up for truth with love and compassion.
As previously mentioned, the national conference is also used to gather as many CCSA members together to conduct an annual general meeting. At this meeting proposals for changes are brought forward by the student executives, which are then approved or disapproved by students. It is also at the annual general meeting where the new national CCSA student executives are elected. UPEI’s very own Grace McCarville served on the National executive this past year and UPEI’s Spencer Noye was elected at the conference to represent the eastern region of Canada for this year. Grace will finish her duties at the end of December and Spencer will take on executive responsibilities at the beginning of January.
The conference ended with all 80 CCSA members walking to St. Dunstan’s Basilica for mass, after which they all said their goodbyes and headed home.
Special thanks to 2016 CCSA student executives who headed the planning and organization of the conference, to Sr. Sue for doing a lot of the background work, and to all of the financial supporter of the conference.
Here are a few statements given by CCSA members from across the country:
“The whole experience was surreal. Getting to meet fellow Catholics from all across Canada was mind blowing. Spending a free evening chatting with two students from UPEI was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Just getting to know how they interpreted things and seeing how they perceived various topics in the catholic community. It really helped me broaden my horizons in my faith.”
Rebecca Bennett, pursuing a BS Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia.
“This was my first CCSA conference and it was amazing. It was great meeting a wider group of people with a similar faith background. I loved the island, and I loved making friends with people from all over Canada, especially from PEI…Also the seafood was great.”
Derek Cameron, pursuing an honours in history at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan
“It was so great to learn more about the greater CCSA community and to get ideas during Campus Sharing!”
Katherine Pernal, pursuing a degree in music at the University of Alberta, Alberta
“I feel very blessed to have taking part in this national conference. It was inspiring meeting so many uplifting and driven people. This weekend truly assured me that the next generation of Canadian Catholic communities are in good hands.”
Ava MacLean, pursuing a indigenous studies degree the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan
“My highlight of CCSA was getting to meet and experience an authentic weekend in my faith with other young people. It gave me so much joy to be able to share in God’s love and to see the fruits of God’s ministry in university campuses across the country. The Lord has blessed us abundantly and my thanks will be given to the Lord by moving forward in our baptismal call to evangelize and to make evangelization a part of my chaplaincy’s mission. Thank you to all who took part in making the weekend such a success.”
Melanie MacIsaac, pursuing a degree in Philosophy and Religious studies Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia.
“My favorite aspect of the weekend is the wide range of students the conference attracts from all across the nation. I love being able to look around the room and see people from different backgrounds and cultures all coming to learn about our faith. I found the conference was very relevant for myself and for any student. Catholicism in relation to science and medical ethics were two topics I personally found very useful.”
Daylen Lafleur, pursuing a degree in Business at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB.
“It was very cool, very swag, I liked it”