I’m a big fan of Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) in its ministry to bring Catholic university students a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I know the founders Andre and Angele Regnier, the president Jeff Lockert and several young people who have served as CCO missionaries. I love being around these people and seeing up close how their ministry is bearing fruit, spreading to universities across the country. There are now 70 full time CCO missionaries, many who have families with lots of children—a sure sign the evangelization was deeper than a short-term emotional experience!
Our little parish the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary here in Ottawa has a special relationship with CCO’s Dante De Luca, who in addition to being a missionary manages the technology side of CCO. And like those who work in campus ministry to young people who have fallen away from the faith or who never understood it, Dante has to raise all of his own support. This puts the young people in a place where they really have to trust God—-for everything.
So here’s how we got to know Dante.
It started with Reita, his fiancee.
Reita is an Anglican who has visited our parish several times. She was part of the wider Augustine College community and had participated in a reading group sponsored by one of the professors there. Our (Fr) Doug Hayman is on the faculty, and some of our parishioners are alumni, including Zach our thurifer, who told Reita about us.
Well, we love Reita! She is tall and stunning and wears hats in addition to being personable and bright!
Then one day, she brought Dante to Mass with her. Dante usually attends the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Clements (which is also home to some former Anglicans with big families who maintain ties with us).
They visit from time to time, and one Sunday in our parish hall during the bun fight, Dante made a formal presentation about his missionary work. I know some of us did contribute to his support. But we are a small congregation with many of our people on fixed incomes.
So I asked Dante if he would mind my putting out a request to the wider Anglican Use Catholic community to see if you might be interested in sending him some money or committing to monthly support—even if it is $10 or $15 a month.
But there’s even more!
This is one of their Dante and Rita’s engagement photos.
And! Guess who is doing the wedding, Anglican Use style?
Our own Carl Reid, who will officiate at the ceremony at the beautiful St. Clement’s parish church, the Traditional Latin Mass church. This is another example of the bridges we are building with other parishes and communities in Catholic Ottawa. (And loving it!)
Reita has not yet crossed the Tiber but we already feel like she’s one of us.
I have been working with CCO since August 2011 as their IT specialist: I ensure that campus missionaries have access to all the technical resources they need to evangelise effectively in our increasingly digital society. I also manage CCO’s web presence, ensuring that our website is functional and accurate, and providing online resources for those who wish to learn how to share the Gospel clearly and simply.
This past year I was also a part of the Missions and Conferences team. I helped to prepare for this summer’s missions to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Kyambogo, Uganda. These opportunities help our student leaders grow in the areas of evangelization and leadership, while bringing about change and conversion in the lives of the people they encounter. I also helped to organise our national conference, Rise Up, in Vancouver last December. Over six hundred young adults from all over the country gathered together for five days to experience God’s love and mercy and learn about the spiritual legacy of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
An opportunity to make a difference
My missionary work with CCO is a full-time position. However, I do not draw a conventional salary and I do not work at another job. Instead, I have the privilege of living on providence, which means that I trust fully on God’s provision to cover my salary and mission expenses. I trust that God will move people to invest generously in my ministry, and that their contributions will enable me to make a difference in the spiritual lives of young people across the country.
And you can make your donation here.