Benjamin Turland is a full-time missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach at Ryerson University. Below he shares about the important work of spreading the Gospel on university campuses.
1) What is Catholic Christian Outreach and what is your mission?
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. We reach out on university campuses to those that don't know Jesus or don't know Him well enough. We proclaim the Gospel to them, equip them with skills to share their faith and send them out to their city, parish, home and workplace to reach out to others with this message. CCO is a non-profit organization and has 100 full-time missionaries. We serve on campuses across the country from BC to Newfoundland.
2) How long have you been in Toronto and where do you serve?
CCO missionaries have been in Toronto for four years. We currently serve at Ryerson University.
Ryerson Catholics and CCO run outreach tables to invite students into faith studies at the beginning of each semester.
3) Why are university campuses a good place to spread the Gospel?
University is when young people are making decisions that shape the course of their lives. university campuses contain our future leaders: mothers, fathers, doctors, nurses, politicians, teachers, journalists….
4) How have you seen CCO's work impact students on campus at Ryerson?
Our work at Ryerson includes outreach and small group faith studies. In four years, we have seen the club grow to 200 students. We are constantly seeing lives changed. But more than numbers, we care about the individual encounter of faith and reaching one person at a time. One student said "I felt alone. I didn't feel like I belonged. I was lost in my faith and I didn't even know it. I first came to the [Ryerson Catholic Student Centre] house and was encouraged by a CCO missionary to join a faith study and I said I would try it out. At first, I was hesitant to join, but I just felt like it would be a nice thing to try out. It was during that faith study that I put Jesus Christ at the center of my life. That lead me to a place of peace and knowing I am loved. I finally found the love that I was looking for." This is the impact we constantly see.
Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry and CCO operate out of the Ryerson Catholic Student Centre, located next to St. Michael's Cathedral.
5) How does CCO work in partnership with existing campus ministries in Toronto?
We work in partnership with Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry. Together we make a team of five (three CCO missionaries and two Ryerson Catholic staff). We have seen this collaboration bear amazing fruit and are grateful for what we can offer students together.
Ryerson Catholic Campus Ministry staff (far left and far right) and CCO staff (centre).
CCO also has partnered with the Newman Center at University of Toronto through our CCO Connect program, which is designed to help grow our efforts on campuses where CCO doesn't have an official presence. CCO staff provide remote training and mentorship to two students who use CCO's methods and materials within their campus ministry.
CCO materials are also used at York University, U of T Scarborough and various parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Want to learn more about CCO? Come to their Toronto "Founders' Dinner" on Wednesday, April 26 at the Columbus Event Center in North York. For more information and tickets, visit cco.ca/torontogala.