It has become a tradition for me to sit down at the end of the previous year and the beginning the new year to reflect on the events of the past year. This year, I chose not to call this post the “Top # Moments or 20XX”, but rather I chose to call it notable moments. The reason for this is because honestly, while there were many top and fun moments this past year, there were down moments, serious moments that I really learned something. The order of moments here do not reflect any precedence, but have been set up in chronological order.
St. Francis Xavier Relic Pilgrimage at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica Jan 12,
2018 – I love the act of veneration of relics within the Catholic Church. As Catholics, we do not worship relics nor the saints, but it is through devotion to the saints that we come closer to God through their saintly lives, and therefore come to worship God himself. It has honestly been a number of years since any major relic did a National Pilgrimage, or “tour”. Therefore, when I heard of the relic of St. Francis Xavier making a pilgrimage through Canada, (that was about late 2017), I immediately had a desire to be part of it and have a chance to pray with the arm of St. Francis Xavier. The day came on Jan 12 last year, and I took the subway directly from school down to St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. The lines were not long when I arrived at about 3:45pm. I stepped into line with the pilgrimage prayer card and medal in hand in prayerful mode. Soon enough, it was my couple seconds in front of the arm and I gently placed the prayer card and medal in front of the reliquary, thinking of those whom I have been asked to pray for. After, I went to find a seat, a front seat, on the front right isle of the Cathedral. There, with Cardinal Collins as the presider, we celebrated a beautiful Mass. It was a packed Cathedral. Though snowing and outside, people still wanted to get a moment with the relic. This seemed to be the case all throughout Canada. The pilgrimage really brought Canadian to prayer and hope something like this would happen again.
Eucharistic Adoration Feb. 9, 2018 – I have been to many Eucharistic Adoration sessions at my parish, Catholic conferences, youth groups… but one that stuck with me this year was this specific one on Feb. 9, hosted by youth from my parish’s Youth and Young Adults ministries. Though I did help organize and collaborate, came to the Church right after school that Friday, I appreciated the fact that there were other people my age who wanted to take part in it through music ministry, reading, altar serving… That shows that the Youth of the Church are still alive. Not only so, that Adoration took place the night before my 17th birthday and there was nothing better than being in front of the Lord in the Church with lights dimmed down, focusing solely on the Eucharist. That is the type of Adoration that I love.
Thầy‘s Calling to the Father April 23, 2018 – A teacher, mentor, “labourer in the
Lord’s vineyard”, and friend of mine, Thầy Peter Tuấn Nguyễn was called “to the house of Father” the morning of April 23, 2018 after a battle with cancer. I will not go on a tangent because I have expressed my thoughts about this great man shortly after the sad day in this post. But I have been affirmed that death is never the end. I will write again about Thầy in a post on the First Memorial Anniversary, but I have noticed a sense of renewal within my parish’s youth. This was very evident in the 100-Day Memorial Mass we hosted at the parish in August, which I will save these reflections for the post this upcoming April.
Involvement with Catholic Media – I have been part of The Catholic Register‘s Youth Speak News (YSN) team for the 2017-2018 term, and once again for this 2018-2019 term and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to write for an audience. Looking back at my 2017-2018 term and my current term, I recognize that yes, there are road bumps that I hit, stories and topics that may be more difficult to write about than others but I have learned that one should not give up and that thoughts will come up throughout the day. I am thankful to the YSN editor, Jean Kodin for her continued guidance, encouragement and here wisdom which has helped a great deal not only with the pieces I do for YSN but those tips are also helpful in academic writing. Thanks to the YSN retreat in May, I was introduced to The Catholic Register’s offices and to Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. That paved the path for me for in September, I enrolled in the cooperative education 2-credit course to fulfill the requirement for my Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program in Information Communications Technology. Back in the summer, thinking about a possible placement, I thought of Salt and Light and thankfully, I got a placement there (I will reflect on my experiences in depth at the end of January, beginning of February when I have completed the co-op course). My experiences in both YSN and at Salt and Light have been positive. Yes, up an downs, mistakes here and there but they are valuable lessons that will help me great deal in the future.
Youth in Policing Initiative Summer 2018 – With an application process that began in January 2018 and an interview in March, I was one of the 152 high-school students selected to be part of this past summer’s Youth in Policing program (YIPI) out of close to 1000 applicants. Honestly, my summer couldn’t have been better. Spending 8-weeks working not only with police officers, but with other members of the community, it gave me an insight of the diversity of the City of Toronto in terms of activities, outreach and culture. I was sent to work with 14 Division where along with 3 other students, I worked the officers at 14 Division. The Division gave me an inside look of the work police officers do. Days at the Division, the YIPI students did much administrative work. Much of the work was geared towards the preparation of the Police Station at the Canadian Nation Exhibition. Besides, the officers there gave us opportunities to work with the community, working with children at Dovercourt Boys and Girls club, MJKO Boxing Summer camp and St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club. I also took part in YIPI group initiatives, taking part in the weekly Rookie League Big Sport Days on Thursdays, sponsored by Jays Care Foundation and Carribana. I learned that the Toronto Police Service is not only present to enforce the law, but also to engage with the community. YIPI was not only a great employment opportunity, but ultimately, it was an opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things and at the same time engage with members of the community.
There you have it, my 5 notable moments of 2018. There were many other moments that I had not mentioned here. However, the moments relayed here were notable learning opportunities that I hope others will have similar experiences.
2019 will be roller-coaster of events, at five days into 2019, it’s already been. I will be hopefully blogging these experience more frequently this year.
Wishing everyone a happy new year, and the Lord watch over us!
Vincent Pham, known as The Catholic Man by many of his friends, is a student at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College of the Faculty of Arts and Science pursuing a double major in Ethics, Society & Law, and Philosophy along with a minor in Christianity and Culture. Vincent is an alumnus of Chaminade College School in Toronto (Class of 2019). He has a great love for all things Catholic, especially Catholic liturgy.