Patrick Grant of Youth Speak News writes about the daunting task of looking for Catholic communities on university campuses. Photo courtesy of Gjunker570, Wikimedia Commons

Searching for faith on university campuses

By  Patrick Grant, Youth Speak News
  • November 17, 2016

As a young Catholic, I’m finding that it is important to surround myself with as much of a Catholic presence as I can. I’m in my last year of high school, and I’ve noticed that through the past few years it’s gotten harder to hold steady in my faith.

One of the big things that causes people to worry is applying for university. Here on P.E.I. you can either go to the University of Prince Edward Island or you go off the island. For many, the thought of leaving home is scary and when you’re Catholic, it can be even scarier.

In my search for a school to attend, I find it comforting when I know there is a Christian presence. It doesn’t have to be big. Even if it’s only a chapel on campus that I can go to if I’m feeling stressed and just need time to talk to God, it gives me a bit more peace of mind.

A few weeks ago I attended a talk at a national conference by the Canadian Catholic Students Association. The conference was held in Charlottetown and 81 students representing different universities from across Canada were there. 

The workshop was given by Fr. John Lacey, the sacramental minister in the chaplaincy department of UPEI. In his session, students reflected how they incorporated the jubilee Year of Mercy in their daily lives and on campus. 

UPEI students, for example, had a food bank in their chaplaincy centre where students that might not be in a good financial place can pick up some food.

There were several universities, such as University of New Brunswick, that had prison ministry during the year. Students would go to prisons and talk with inmates. Some would even make care packages around Christmastime for the inmates.

What I witnessed during Fr. John’s talk was young people making an effort to bring Christ to their campuses. I saw young people like me living the way Jesus called us to live.

Knowing that there’s a small Christian community, I know that I can rely on that to make friends. I find it important to surround myself with people that strive to be more like Jesus. And if I know that there’s a group of people striving for that, I’m more at peace with leaving my tight-knit group of friends to make a new ones.

Sr. Susan Kidd, UPEI campus minister, summarized the experience best when she said whenever you gather people of faith, really cool stuff happens. I only witnessed one small part of the whole conference, but from what I saw I could tell that each of those individuals had a role in God’s plan. 

I saw youth trying to make a change for God’s greater glory. I hope that when I attend university I can find a group of people that will help me along my walk of faith, so that I, too, may make a change and help people see God’s love for them.

(Grant, 17, is a Grade 12 high school student living in Cornwall, P.E.I.)

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