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Rise up 2023 - O'Brien
The Jesuits of Canada sponsored Rise Up and had a prominent table which served as a place of encounter with hundreds of young Catholics.

“As we accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future, we are grateful for the many initiatives that already exist […]. We are learning how to listen to them, to hear what they are saying. We hear a call to adapt the language of discernment to youth and young professionals and to find new ways of making the Exercises available to them. Here, it is essential that we be visible in society and authentic in our witness.” One of the ways we can be visible and make Ignatian spirituality accessible to young people, as “Pilgrims Together” invites us to do, is by reaching out to young people!

Jesuits at Rise Up

After a four-year hiatus, Rise Up, the annual conference of Catholic university students, was held once again in Ottawa in December 2023. Organized by Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), a Canadian lay ministry that mentors students on 17 university campuses, Rise Up is the largest annual gathering of Catholic young adults in Canada. During the event, young people are invited to participate in a variety of activities, including conferences and masses.

Rise Up 2023 - John O'Brien
Rise Up is a forum where many religious orders meet young people and discuss their charisms and ministries – and meet each other.

Father John O’Brien, SJ, and a number of men discerning their vocational paths were present at the event, which this year drew nearly 600 participants.

All students received information on the Jesuit vocation in their conference packages and were invited to attend special vocation brunches for men and women. Fr. John gave a workshop on Ignatian discernment attended by nearly 100 students and priests, including Archbishop Marcel Damphousse of Ottawa.

Rise up 2023, John O'Brien
Fr. John and Samuel Pilon of Gatineau, QC, a former Jesuit novice, who is entering the Cistercian monastery / Abbaye Cistercienne in Rougemont, Quebec.

“We are delighted to support and be supported by Rise Up,” said Fr. John, “It gives us a unique opportunity to meet young people at the stage in their lives when they are considering their vocational futures, and at an event where they are being moved and challenged spiritually to give their lives to Christ.”

Rise Up 2023, John O'Brien
John met international students from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, some of whom had attended Jesuit retreats at their chaplaincy, which is served by Fr. Joe Mroz, S.J.

Is this work with young people having an impact? At least two scholastics from the Jesuit Province of Canada can trace the seeds of their vocations to involvement in CCO during their university years.

“By participating in Rise Up, Ignatian spirituality is kept fresh in the minds of young Catholics,” said Father John.” Many students ask about retreats and spiritual direction, and have questions about the faith. We talk to them throughout the weekend and direct them as best we can toward resources that meet their needs.”

St. Mark’s Parish invites young people to a time of adoration

There are many other ways to introduce young people to Ignatian spirituality. Last December in Vancouver, for example, Father Rob Allore, SJ, and Michael Goco organized a time of Eucharistic adoration with a reflection that focused on the celebration of Jesuit saints and the idea of holiness, as well as on the meaning of Advent. The event was generally well received by participants from St. Mark’s Parish and students from the University of British Columbia.

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