March 21, 2011

OTTAWA — Jennia Grison was on the dean's list at Queen's University, had a great family and friends but was "so unhappy."

God seemed "far away and irrelevant," Grison recalls.

Then, someone from Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) asked her what kind of relationship she had with Jesus — is he far away or is he "close and in your heart?"

She realized "Jesus was definitely not a factor in my life," but that he was inviting her into a relationship. That relationship was not about perfection but "about my desire to know him."

Grison was one of two CCO members who gave a testimony to several hundred people at the organization's Meet the Movement fundraiser and banquet in Ottawa March 3.

She had "everything a girl could hope for," but she "lacked the one thing I was created for - a relationship with Jesus."

After opening her heart and asking Jesus to be her Lord and Saviour her relationship has grown and she has experienced "true happiness," Grison said.

"I believe he is using me to change the world." CCO has equipped her well, she said, to share the Gospel "in a relational way and to encourage other people to do the same."

She plans to take her love of Christ and her joy into the Catholic school system as a teacher.

Tavis Goski, a University of Ottawa graduate, said his participation in CCO had challenged him to "become more serious" about his faith.

At his first CCO Rise-Up conference Goski tried praying to God as if he was simply talking with him, instead of through pre-worded prayers.

Goski found he could speak to God as if he were his best friend. Through CCO, he found a relationship with Jesus and the importance of his presence in the Eucharist. He now wants to "serve him as a priest."

The fundraiser also heard from Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller who said campus missionaries face challenges from "secularism, relativism and the divorce of reason from faith."

"Canada is rapidly become a non-religious nation, one not merely indifferent to religion but even hostile to it," he said.

Aggressive secularism seeks to "drive religion from the public arena" and confine it to churches and living rooms, marginalizing religion, he said.

Secularism "must be met head-on by a counter-cultural insistence on the importance of truth," Miller said. That truth must be spoken in love.

The CCO missionaries have found a way to present the truth in a way that is "relevant without being wishy-washy or compromised and captivating without being silly or sentimental," he said.

CCO has a presence on nine university campuses in Canada and hopes to spread to every university campus.