Melanie Mahar

Team Member, National Leadership
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I am from Prince Edward Island and my family still all lives there. There are just two children in my family, and my brother is two years older than me. He is married with two children – my niece, Lylah, is the oldest, and my nephew, Isaac, is 18 months younger.

I was always quite close with my cousins. On my mom’s side, we are a fairly large Acadian family. I have 20 first cousins and, in terms of ages, I am right around the middle. On my dad’s side, we are part Irish and part Italian, and I have 4 older cousins.

Growing up, the extent of my faith was going to Mass (non-enthusiastically) on Sundays, and simply because it was expected of me. When I got to university, Mass was one of the first things that I cut out of my life. However, within a month, I encountered CCO and started getting involved. Through a faith study, I came to understand that our faith and having a relationship with Jesus is not about perfection, but about a choice to place him at the centre of our lives. For the first time, I realized that it is possible to live my faith with purpose and to know Jesus personally without yet being perfect in holiness. In fact, no one is perfectly holy, which encourages me that Jesus still longs for me in my human weakness.

This led me to dive deeper into my faith, and I ended up going on a pilgrimage with CCO to World Youth Day 2005, in Germany. On this pilgrimage, I recognized who Jesus truly is and how he loves me so deeply that he died for me. All he asks in return is for me to love him as completely as I can, even in my weakness. Afterwards, my whole approach to faith changed. I wanted to share this with everyone and help them to come to know the incredible love and mercy of Jesus – how He longs so deeply for them, and that they can have this life-giving relationship with Him too! He inflamed my missionary heart!

This ultimately led to my call to join staff with CCO. I began to feel the call to staff in the 2005-06 year, but felt like the Lord was telling me that it wasn’t time yet. He led me to other opportunities where I was able to grow in ministry skills, faith formation and deepen my personal faith life.

After Rise Up in December 2008, I felt the Lord say: “Now is your time! Go for it!” I applied for staff and began working for CCO in the fall of 2009. Since then, I have been serving in the Finance department. Within finance, I have done a little bit of everything. I started in Donation processing, moved in to Accounts Payable, and then Accounts Receivable and other accounting tasks. Now, I work in Donation Management and supporter/missionary account investigations. My role really is continually evolving.

As a Finance team, ultimately, we want to support our campus missionaries as much as possible. By them being well supported, this will enable students to hear the Gospel proclaimed, be invited to accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour, and, in return, they will be able to respond to the call to evangelize and proclaim Jesus through their everyday lives. This will mean strong, Catholic missionary leaders for our Church and the world!

As well, a strong Finance Department and Headquarters means a strong foundation for the movement to be able to grow and expand. With this strong foundation, we hope to see CCO’s presence expand to more university campuses.

I have many highlights I could share! Ultimately, it’s witnessing people coming to place Christ at the centre of their lives and seeing them grow in their call to holiness & mission. A moment that stands out for me is during a time of support raising. I met a lady at a retreat who shared how she wanted Jesus to be at the center of her life, but felt she was “just not there yet”. I met with her after the retreat and shared with her my experience of realizing that a relationship with Jesus is not about perfection or reaching for something that needs to be attained, but about striving more and more each day to love Him as much as we are capable. We repent for the times we fall, and most importantly, get back up and continue on after those times where we do fall. She had never heard this put so simply. Here she was, striving for years and years for some “perfect ideal” that always felt just out of her reach. When she realized that Jesus is actually right there with her – and just wanted her to choose Him by saying ‘yes’ to a relationship with him – she was moved to tears. She could not believe how simple it could be. She no longer had to try and try to reach toward Jesus who seemed just a little too far away, she realized that He had always been reaching out to her, and all she had to do was take His hand!

Another highlight has been seeing the Lord use me, even in times where I feel I have nothing to give. On one occasion, I was paired with another staff member to pray with some students before they left for a mission trip. On this particular day I felt completely drained, both physically and spiritually, and like I had nothing to give to these students. The other staff member shared with me that they also felt the same way. However, during this time, the Holy Spirit completely took over. It was an incredibly powerful time of prayer, and in speaking with some of these students after the mission, I found out that much of their pilgrimage was shaped by that time of prayer. It was their encouragement to keep pushing through in the difficult times.

This was also a huge confirmation and affirmation that, even in those times where I feel I may be useless and empty, the Lord can still work through me. In fact, those can be the times He can use me most powerfully, because I have nothing to give and therefore I am completely dependent on Him. He is, and always should be, the one to do the work. It’s not about what I do. It’s about what He does when I allow Him to work through me!

When Impact Canada, CCO’s summer mission project, was in Ottawa, some participants came and worked in the office as their summer job. Like all other CCO Staff, they raised the support needed for their salaries. It was amazing to see how these students grew throughout the mission, but also, how their experience in the office allowed them to see how they can be missionary and live their faith in an everyday job-type context. They learned through this experience that being missionary is not about what you do, but who you are. For some students, this served as a time of discernment, and one student even continued working part-time throughout the school year, and has since become a full-time staff member with CCO.

I have grown so much, spiritually, since being on staff with CCO. One big area of growth has been in what I mentioned just above in the highlight from the pre-mission prayer time. Also, I have come to understand the power of intercession so much deeper through working in the office. I have seen how doing little tasks – with great love and purpose for the salvation of souls – actually has an impact on people coming to know Christ. Through the spiritual and leadership formation I have received, I have become more solid and mature in my faith and a much stronger leader than I was before joining staff. I know I still have a lot of growing to do, but who doesn’t?!

Through the call to fundraising to support my missionary work, I have grown a lot in trusting in God’s providence. There were a few very distinct times where I was well below where I need to be in terms of my support levels and had a fast approaching deadline to meet these goals. Through prayer, doing the tasks that were before me and trusting that the Lord would provide, I have experienced God’s supernatural generosity and providence through others in ways I could not imagine. When the Lord calls, he will provide all that is necessary to fulfill that call. We just need to do the work that He is asking us to do and receive the grace of trust that He will take care of the rest!


Please pray for a continued deepening in intimacy with the Lord and docility to the Holy Spirit.
Also, for continued opportunities for HQ staff to share the Gospel with those we connect with; especially supporters, students, friends, family and people in our parishes.