God is service

Photo courtesy of Steubenville conferences

Photo courtesy of Steubenville conferences

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13: 35

By Emma Kendrick, Age 17

Mike Gormley, who is affectionately known as ‘Gomer,’ shared with youth and adults at the Steubenville Toronto 2014 conference that the foundation of discipleship is authentic love that is active and alive. Gormley highlighted the importance of an intimate relationship with God that begins with prayer.  Connecting with a God who is always present and welcoming His grace is the foundation of our faith. Gormley was raised by devout Catholic parents and while he attended daily mass, prayed the rosary every day and attended adoration, he did not know how to speak with God. In his senior year of high school he felt a growing desire to pray—to pray with his whole heart. His desire to grow closer to God reveled that service—engaging and being present in the lives of his brothers and sisters in need—was in fact an act of praying with his whole heart.

Jesus’ encounters with the poor, unclean and marginalized remind us that we must be a people of love, and demonstrate that love everyday. As Gormley explained, Jesus wants for us to “live below” money, power and wealth. In doing so we will have the energy and spirit to invest in living simply and growing in relationship with others. Through a commitment to prayer and welcoming God’s grace, our love for God will trump any worldly concern for wealth, power or “stuff.” The choice to build up God’s Kingdom over our own kingdom, Gormley suggests, is a conscious choice that we make each day.  Aligning our beliefs and actions with God’s is honouring and building His Kingdom rather than building a life rooted in material and worldly goods.

Through our interactions with God’s creation around us we are presented with a challenge to integrate our beliefs into our daily lives. Do we practice the Catholic social teachings through the purchases we make or are we supporting unethical treatments and practices of corporate business? Are we aware of the marginalized in our community and do we support them? Do we recognize that those who have wronged us are created in God’s image, just as we are?

Serving our brothers and sisters is at the core of our being as loving members of a greater family. Our loving relationship with God gives us the grace and love that we need to grow with others and live as disciples of Christ.

Teens rock out to worship band

Ike Ndolo leads worship on July 4 at the first Steubenville Toronto conference in 2014. (Photo by Ruane Remy)

Ike Ndolo leads worship on July 4 at the first Steubenville Toronto conference in 2014. (Photo by Ruane Remy)

 By Sarah Florez, Age 18

Have you ever felt like the particular song you’re jamming to has taken you to another place or even moved you so much that it made you feel better than ever. Well, that’s exactly how I felt while singing away to Ike Ndolo, Jackie Francois Angel and the worship band at the Steubenville Toronto youth conference on July 4.

The worship band sang such amazing and inspiring music that it gave me goose bumps. I was ecstatic that they played two of my favourite songs, 10,000 Reasons and Hosanna. These two songs have lyrics that make me want to become even closer to God and also allows me to understand how much He loves and adores us all no matter how much we’ve failed Him. His love never decreases.

The chorus of 10,000 Reasons says, “Bless the Lord o my soul, o my soul, worship his holy name; Sing like never before, o my soul, I’ll worship your holy name.” That last part of the chorus, “sing like never before,” makes me realize that the purpose of worship music is to connect you with God, help you forget all your worries and motivate you to sing your heart out.

The worship band did an excellent job in singing these songs and to be honest I felt like I was back at my church, worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I truly believe that one of the most important ways to honour God is through worship music because we aren’t just singing a couple songs; we are connecting with God. Music can lead more and more people towards him and begin to believe. May God continue to bless the worship band members, and may he allow them to bring more and more people closer to him through their talents.

2013 International Festival of Religious Song

Guest star Beata Bednarz and her band perform at the 2013 Festival of Religious Song. (Photo by Caroline Wojdylo)

Guest star Beata Bednarz and her band perform at the 2013 Festival of Religious Song. (Photo by Caroline Wojdylo)

By Caroline Wojdylo

The Catholic Youth Studio (KSM) organized the 24th annual International Festival of Religious Song on Nov. 23-24, at the John Paul II Polish Cultural Centre in Mississauga. The Festival was attended by over 800 people from all over the GTA that came to listen to 21 talented performers and to praise God for the gifts He has given them.

This year’s theme was “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.” The special guest was an award-winning Christian band lead by Beata Bednarz, who flew in from Poland for the Festival. The goal of the event resonated with the mission of John Paul II — to go and evangelize the culture.

On Saturday, many beautiful Christian voices had the opportunity to perform in a competition. The performing English and Polish groups were either in the children or adults category and were judged by the Bednarz and her band. The winners received prizes such as statues of Jesus Magistrum and official diplomas signed by the director of KSM and organizer of the Festival, Fr. Marcin Serwin, OMI. The following day the winning acts performed once more followed by Bednarz’a climatic performance with her amazing band, whose gifted members have been asked to play for Elton John and Andrea Bocelli, among others.

The successful event was a great way to deepen our faith, give praise to God through beautiful music, and support young talented Christians who have found that the best way to communicate with God is through song.

(Wojdylo, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Bishop Allen Academy in Toronto.)

#HomelessTurkey

turkey-250x300

Toronto’s Good Shepherd has launched a Twitter campaign this Thanksgiving where through Twitter, you can help feed Turkeys, and in turn the charity organization feeds the homeless. You can watch the Turkey’s being fed live at www.homelessturkey.com.

Here’s how it works in the words of the Good Shepherd:

“Together we can feed the homeless this Thanksgiving. We know it’s hard to give food or money to every homeless person you pass. So help us feed them. The Good Shepherd in Toronto serves more than 1200 meals to the homeless everyday. This Thanksgiving we’re helping feed the homeless by getting you to feed some live turkeys via twitter using #homelessturkey to dispense a small portion of feed from our hashtag activated seed hopper every time you tweet. And for every 1000 tweets our sponsors will donate 10 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully, we can give “gobble” a whole new meaning.”