Vanessa Ziel

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Hello There!

I’m Vanessa, a born and raised Calgarian living on the beautiful Vancouver Island.  I am a third year student at the University of Victoria studying Earth Science and Geographic Information Technology, and loving it!  Every May,  I return to Calgary for the 4 months of summer to work and spend much appreciated time with my friends and family.  Except this May, where I have the privilege to fly across this huge country to St. John’s Newfoundland, to join CCO for the St. John’s mission for 2 months with seven other amazing young Catholics!

I grew up in an Ecumenical household, attending mass every Sunday and going to Catholic school.  However as my sister and I grew up, our family conversations around the dinner table shifted to learning more about our parent’s faith, one Lutheran and the other Catholic.  It has been a blessing to learn the similarities that fall between different denominations of Christianity and see a style of Christian unity demonstrated by my parents.
Moving out to Victoria at the age of 18, I recall considering that this whole Catholic faith of mine could be something I didn’t want in my “new life”.  However, with encouragement from my teachers, parents and friends, I attended mass (intended for students and young adults) in Victoria which allowed me to form Christ centred friendships and more importantly a personal relationship with Jesus himself.  I couldn’t have grown in my faith without the guidance of the missionaries on campus. Being led in Discovery (a CCO small group faith study), I met new people who were interested in learning about the Catholic faith and were just like me; open to what God has in store for them.

My first year was filled with changes; new friends, new school, new lifestyle. Living in Victoria as a University student, it was hard to find any similarities to my beloved home in Calgary.  Reflecting on my first year I realized the thing that linked Vanessa in Victoria and Vanessa in Calgary was Jesus.   He never left my side in the midst of my struggles and doubts that many first year University students go through.  While I was preparing to give my testimony for the first time, I was overwhelmed with fear and inadequacy questioning “who was I to have a testimony about God or even claim to know Him?”. I began to cry at the daunting task ahead of me and in the hopes to calm myself I listened to the song Lord I Need You. The lyrics were exactly how I felt. I needed God and if I wanted to find peace in myself I needed to trust in the Lord and place God at the centre of my life. It’s in this time that I accepted and welcomed Christ as my saviour and truly committed my life to Christ.

Without this ongoing conversion that I hold close in my heart, I would never have been able to climb the Mount Everest that has recently been built in my life, the passing of my Dad.  This past November my Dad suddenly passed away from heart arrhythmia.  The tears, uncertainty, and anger I felt toward the situation is indescribable.  However in the midst of my mourning, God spoke to me in adoration the night I landed in Calgary to be with my family.  Gazing at the blessed sacrament I battled feelings of resentment to God and frustration that I would never speak, hug or call my Dad again.  But God spoke to me and affirmed that my Dad was on his way to heaven.  I found great joy in knowing this and comfort began to be welcomed in my heart.  Christ is the ultimate saviour for us.  He died on the cross so that our loved ones and ourselves can be saved and be united with God.  Our time on Earth is not the end, but the time to know God, choose God and live for Him in a personal relationship.

I feel so blessed to be Catholic and to know this beautiful truth. The way Christ has consoled me and weeped with me, makes me want to be like the woman at the well and tell of God’s love and grace !!!!!!!  I feel God calling me to intentionally accompany parishioners to grow in their faith, be equipped to confidently share their faith clearly and simply.

As a mission participant I am required to raise $3150. I humbly ask that you support me through your prayers and discern supporting me financially on this mission.

God Bless

We lead evangelization missions around the world.