I had a wonderful experience in Halifax this weekend. The retreat for college students and members of the Catholic Christian Outreach went well, and I have to give a shout out to the CCO. Their website gives a brief description.
Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) is a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. We challenge students to live in the fullness of the Catholic faith, with a strong emphasis on becoming leaders in the renewal of the world.
The young people I met involved with CCO included a young couple with a six-month old girl and several single women from different provinces - all working in Halifax at Dalhousie University and St. Mary's University. St. Mary's used to be affiliated with the Catholic Church, but it seems that the administration of most of the Catholic Universities in the country have been taken over by government agencies. I didn't find out why, though, and those I spoke with about this seemed to take it as a matter of course.
CCO was founded at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1988 after receiving the approval of the local bishop. From a humble beginning of four students, the movement now serves hundreds of students on several campuses through a wide array of programs and outreaches.
The young adults who work for CCO are involved in evangelization through one to one ministry and small group work. This often takes the form of short small group bible studies that have a focus on the proclamation of the kerygma, the basic kernel of the Gospel that must be proclaimed to call people to conversion to Christ.
CCO's work is seen as:
A response to Christ's command that his disciples "Proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Matthew 28:18-19, Mark 16:15-16).
A concrete way to foster the Church's primary and universal mission of evangelization (Evangelii Nuntiandi, #14).
A positive answer to the call of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for a "new evangelization" in our times.
An active outreach to the distressingly small numbers of believing and practicing youth.
A positive and successful influence in the promotion of religious vocations.
A practical way to respond to cults and fundamentalist sects aimed at undermining the faith of Catholics.
PROCLAIM, EQUIP, COMMISSION
CCO employs a multiplication model of ministry. Like Jesus did, we can invest spiritually in the lives of a few to the point where they in turn can invest in the lives of others. We proclaim Christ to the students, equip them to be mature Christians, then commission them to proclaim to and equip others.
Our programs are aimed primarily but not exclusively at university students:
generally between 18 and 30 years of age
both women and men
who are churched, nominally churched, or unchurched
who have been leaders and show further leadership potential.
Our programs equip students with the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge to become mission-ready, multiplying disciples.
CCO's programs include:
Weekly on-campus faith study groups
One-on-one ministry and leadership training
On-campus large group meetings, teachings, and training
Retreats and conferences
Practical leadership and ministry opportunities
Overseas and domestic mission projects
Summer faith sharing groups
Sports, recreation and socials.
The most needed help in sharing their faith for many Catholics is the simple courage to actually begin to evangelize, coupled with a conviction that such efforts can prove excitingly fruitful. We give not only doctrinal principles but also clear and practical teachings on how to evangelize. Such teachings are most effective when there is an opportunity to put them into practice in the company of experienced evangelizers.
The young evangelists involved in CCO are very, very committed. They have to fund their salaries each year, which means "support raising" $30,000 Canadian annually. They are sent by the CCO administration to eight university campuses, and their goal is to increase that by twenty over the next twenty years.
This may sound familiar to those of you acquainted with FOCUS, which seems to be an American counterpart to CCO.