by Julia Bolzon
Last semester at McMaster University, there were 11 Discovery Faith Studies led by students on campus, and 40 students took a study for the first time! McMaster does not have a chapter of CCO present on campus nor any missionary staff working with our students. Where did we find the students to lead and take the studies?
It all started in my first year at McMaster in September 2009. I had been paired up with a second-year student named Teanna through my faculty’s mentorship program. I immediately noticed two things about this girl that struck me as different from anyone else I had ever met: her vibrant and contagious personality, and her ability to speak freely about Jesus as if he were a real person in her life. Though we didn’t have much in common other than our program, we soon became good friends, and later on she invited me to take part in a faith study she was leading that semester. Being curious about my faith, I took part in it, but more so because I was attracted to what Teanna was experiencing in her faith life that I was so clearly lacking.
My first year of university was a transformative period of my life where I can say with certainty that I encountered the person of Jesus in a way that I had not before, and in a way that I did not know was possible! My encounter with Jesus was one that changed everything about my life, and I wanted everyone to know! A great desire was born within me to spread Jesus to others, especially to students like me who just never knew that it was possible to live in a relationship with Him. Through Teanna’s friendship in my life – her guidance and mentorship – I led a faith study on my own in my second year, and was also driven to take part in CCO’s summer mission called Impact in Ottawa 2011. After she graduated, I gladly took on the role of coordinating the faith studies for our campus in my third year, as I was coming back to campus with a new zeal and training from CCO missionaries after having done a summer mission.
Over the years the Lord has blessed our campus with many faith-filled students. This year I’m serving as the Ministry Leader, and with our student executive, we run events and activities to lead students to both begin and deepen their relationship with Christ. The CCO faith studies are an invaluable tool that allows us to grow as leaders and to share the Gospel to students who have either never heard it before, or who have grown up Catholic but have never been exposed to an understanding of their faith in such a clear, concrete, and sharable way.
In September, MACSA (McMaster Catholic Students Association) used a 60-second survey during our clubs day to gain contacts, and through a week of phone calls and personal meetings, we invited students to participate in MACSA events and join a faith study! It has been so inspiring to see those students who we met through a survey last term, then strangers, now inviting their own friends to take part in a study that they might lead themselves!
This January was our first ever Mission Week, where we conducted surveys for three days in the student centre. Ware now working to phone those that left their information and personally invite them to check out a study. Though the work is challenging, and at many times discouraging, there are many wins that remind us of the importance of our outreach! The best part is seeing the new student leaders that have encountered Jesus and now desire to make Him known. Because of them, other students will hear the message of the Gospel perhaps for the first time this term as they go through Discovery.