A reflection by André Regnier
For 25 years it has been clear that the purpose of CCO is the Gospel; to proclaim Jesus as clearly and as simply as possible, so that the hearer would be able to understand and respond. Over the last quarter-century there have been many occasions where we were asked, encouraged, and sometimes even pressured to expand our simple focus to include other important things. However, like Pope Francis says, there may be other important things, but they aren’t as important as the Gospel (paraphrase).
In his recent interview in America Magazine entitled “A Big Heart Open to God,” the Holy Father compared the Church to a “field hospital.” I say that if the Church is a field hospital, we are the first responders or paramedics. Our work, the reason for our existence, is to go to the scene of the trauma; to go where students have wandered away from the Church and give them the emergency care that they need. Our work is to bring them back to the hospital, where they can get better care. As Pope Francis said in that interview, “You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.”
Since the beginning, we have sensed a call to grow and expand, and to have a heart that extended far, far beyond our humble origins at the University of Saskatchewan. 25 years ago there was a stirring in our hearts telling us that what we were doing in those early days had to be spread to other campuses: not only throughout Canada, but around the world. For some, this seemed too ambitious or overzealous, but we believed it was an inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That audacious dream has become a reality, with our studies being led by thousands of Catholics on campuses all over the globe.
So what lies ahead? Put simply, we’ll spend the next 25 years doing exactly what we did during the last 25 years… with one key difference. This difference is that we think the past 25 years have been a time of preparation for something very special that’s happening now. Our greatest influence, Blessed John Paul II, gave us a sense of expectation, of the grandeur and majesty of the Gospel. He constantly reminded the Church of Her missionary identity and said he was looking for the dawn of a new era; a new missionary age. We feel that the abundant blessings CCO has experienced are the beginnings of that missionary age; a time of grace and excitement for all of us as we embark on the next 25 years.
And so our next 25 years will be about our commitment to bringing the Gospel to more and more university students throughout Canada and around the world. But for now, as we celebrate our silver anniversary, there is a great sense of expectation and hope that God will use our humble movement to help bring about a new missionary age.