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Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO). (Lay Movements XX).

People sometimes ask, "Why Catholic Christian Outreach?" Catholics are surely Christian! The fact is, not everyone believes this. CCO was begun on the Prairies, the Bible belt of Canada. The Evangelical churches are strong there, and members will sometimes make a marked distinction between Christian and Catholic, as in "Are you a Christian or Catholic?"

One balmy autumn day in 1988, a young man walked through the front doors of the University of Saskatchewan with hopeful determination. As he scanned the throngs of students milling about or rushing off to their next class he had only one thought: "Who's first?"

This was the start of a unique university apostolate that has now spread across Canada. From the simple but ambitious vision of Andre Regnier thirteen years ago has come something that has impacted the lives of thousands of young people here and abroad. This was born out of a desire to see young Catholics return to their Faith and share it with others. Simply put, Catholic Christian Outreach is a university student movement dedicated to the evangelization of a much-neglected group.

Our Church is losing her young people. This is a reality that many Catholics are aware of. What many may not be aware of is where this often happens: university campuses. It is there that our future leaders are exposed to secular humanism, atheistic relativism, and even antiCatholicism. It is here that our sons and daughters see their Faith disdained and attacked. It is here that CCO sees a mission field.

CCO focuses mainly on university students because of the great potential to form them during this critical period in their lives. This is the period in which many of them will make major life decisions. From choosing a mate, to choosing a career, to deciding what to believe, in a short few years. To effectively reach these students in a limited amount of time CCO utilizes a simple threefold principle: Proclaim, Equip, Commission.

Proclaiming the truths of Christ and the Church in a clear and transferable way is essential. Although the Catholic Faith is unfathomable in its riches, there are many basic, important truths that need to be communicated in a clear and concise way, particularly the importance of making a personal decision to follow Christ and His Church. This proclamation is then built upon by equipping young people with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitude to transmit the Faith. And, finally, members are encouraged to "go forth and make disciples" by passing on what has been learned. An important way CCO commissions young people is through mission projects. To date, there have been five projects in total: the Philippines, Poland, St. Lucia, Ottawa, Rome. There was also a project set for Toronto in conjunction with World Youth Day.

A unique aspect of CCO is that each staff member is considered to be a lay missionary. This is reflected not only in the work they do, but also in how they maintain a working salary. Each staff member is required to raise his or her own finances on a regular basis. Through the donations of individuals on a monthly basis, called "support raising," the staff are able to devote themselves full time to this work. While this is common in many other Christian organizations, it is almost unheard of in Catholic circles. This form of fund raising is beneficial to the supporters as it allows them to engage in evangelization through their giving. At present, CCO is on five campuses: University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), Carleton University (Ottawa), and University of Ottawa (Ottawa). There are numerous other opportunities to expand, with requests coming from campuses across Canada and internationally. The only thing preventing CCO from filling these requests i s staff. Fortunately there has been a significant increase in interest in joining staff, but not in proportion to the opportunities for expansion.

In a nutshell, this apostolate is about calling young people to make a personal decision for Christ and building them up to be leaders for the renewal of the world. Quite a daunting task on the surface, but wholly achievable if done one person at a time. Pope John Paul II has called for a New Evangelization and CCO Canada is wholeheartedly responding to that call.

Andre Regnier is cofounder of CCO and Ottawa Campus Director. As he approached his convocation, he had a vision to begin a challenging, evangelistic movement for Catholic university students. Consequently, he founded and launched Catholic Christian Outreach in the fall of 1988. He and his wife have three children.

Andrd's wife, Angele Regnier co-foundress of CCO, and staff representative. Angue was involved as a leader in Christian clubs as a student at the University of Saskatchewan. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education, and taught for one year before coming to work on campus with CCO. Presently she works for the ministry in the area of staff training and development.

For more information, CCO Canada can be reached at: Box 7421, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 4J3; Tel: (306) 652-5100, Fax: (306) 652-5177, e-mail: hq@cco.ca; web site: www.cco.ca.
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Author:O'Reilly, Pierre
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:856
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