The 2020 meeting for Catholic university students took place with Archbishop Christian Lépine at the Grand Seminary of Montreal on Saturday, Jan. 18. Many items were on the agenda: What are we called to be as students? What purpose does university serve? What key tools can we use to shed light in those areas that seem so opposed to faith? These questions and more sparked many responses.

“How can I display my faith around me?” Louis-Joseph Gagnon

The participants had the opportunity to attend a conference led by Pablo Irizar, director of the Newman Centre, and by Louis-Joseph Gagnon, president of the IFTM (Institut de formation théologique de Montréal) Student Committee. Together, they explained that beyond being a place where method, rigour and learning predominate, a university is a place where research takes place, where truth is being confronted through theses.

From this definition, they broke a cliché too often highlighted in our society: age does not define a student. Sex orientation and ethnic origin do not define students either. Students are in search of scientific knowledge, and this can be linked to our faith. We also seek Christ constantly. Searching implies that we humbly recognize that we do not know. So, faith does not stand in opposition to intelligence: intelligence investigates faith. But how can we be Catholic university students? A Roman Catholic is a Christian first because he/she believes in Christ.

His or her faith is in God whose love was revealed by Christ. He/she believes in the Holy Trinity and recites the Creed, which reflects one’s faith. Jesus looks for disciples, followers and witnesses of his love.

A productive Q&A period took place at the end of the conference. In short, being a Catholic university student entails a great capacity for listening, humility, and a well-anchored strength of conviction and trust in God to find the right words.

“Am I ready to discover Jesus Christ? His love, truth and beauty?"  Archbishop Lépine

To close this gathering where many lessons could be drawn, the participants celebrated Christ led by a student choir. In his homily, Archbishop Lépine suggested a short exercise like a benevolent teacher would. He urged us all to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, so that we can see our sins and receive God’s mercy. Like Saint Peter who denied Christ three times — “I do not know the man!” (Mt 26:74) — not only does he forgive us, but with the strength of his love he also washes our sins. One principle of faith is to love and believe in Jesus Christ. He is invisible, but that does not stop us from being completely with him.

As Christians and Catholic university students, and even workers, adolescents or retirees, we constantly try to give meaning to our lives. In Jesus Christ, we encounter the meaning of life. Despite our real-life situation, we need to be living witnesses to those who surround us.