Campus ministry at Concordia University will get a boost this September with the arrival of three campus missionaries from Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO).
The national organization announced the expansion of their ministry to Montreal on their Facebook page recently.
The CCO team will be headed by 23-year-old Angèle Sweeney, a University of Ottawa graduate who has been with the organization for two years, serving first at Carleton and then at the University of Saskatchewan.
She will be joined by her soon-to-be husband Dennis Barry, also 23, who has worked for CCO at the University of Saskatchewan for the past two years. The third team member will be named soon.
The CCO team will work with Concordia chaplain Fr. Paul Anyidoho.
'SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY'
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd initiated discussions with CCO about 18 months ago. Archbishop Christian Lépine approved the final details of the agreement in January.
"We must seize every opportunity to help people experience just how much Jesus loves them, and for thousands of university students, CCO has introduced them to that experience," says Bishop Dowd.
CCO was founded in 1988 by Saskatchewan university graduates André and Angèle Regnier in response to St. John Paul II's call for a New Evangelization. Under the Regniers' leadership, CCO has expanded its outreach to 13 Canadian university campuses during the last three decades. Headquartered in Ottawa, it currently numbers about 80 staff, including 50 on-campus missionaries.
CCO's goals are to share the message and to help spread the mission of Jesus. Their basic approach is one-on-one ministry, helping students both to know and to encounter Christ. Their program also equips students to share their faith and to accompany others in their journey to Christ.
CCO assumes all financial obligations associated with their university-based ministry. The missionaries support themselves through donations and personal finances.
"So many university students have wandered away from the faith, and we want to invite them to come back," says Eric Myatt, CCO eastern regional director.
"We're looking forward to support the work of the chaplaincy and of the students at Concordia," he said.
Concordia chaplain Fr. Anyidoho is also eager to begin collaborative ministry with CCO and the Concordia University Catholic Students Association. When he met Myatt and André Regnier in October 2014, they went to pray together before the Blessed Sacrament in Loyola Chapel on Concordia's west-end campus, which Anyidoho describes as "a Catholic space that is transformed into multi-faith use and purposes."
"We prayed for the success of our collaborative ministry," he recalled, "and that the chapel will become more and more a place that is alive and where students connect easily with God."