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Faith, hope and charity at Glasgow Caledonian

The Scottish Network of Catholic Students in their FAITH BY DEGREES column this month let students from the brand new Catholic Society at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), tell their story and stress the need to be beacons of Christ’s love

The recent appointment of Fr Mark Morris as Catholic chaplain to Glasgow Caledionan University was the catalyst to the formation of a Catholic Society here for the very first time. A small and fledgling outfit, we are not yet officially Students’ Association -affiliated. Nevertheless, with the support of our new chaplain and our mutual passion, enthusiasm and love for our Faith, we embrace the challenge. Our goal is simple: to provide a hub in which the students of GCU can come together and openly express and deepen their Faith in a friendly, supportive environment.

Cases of Catholic students facing adversity from the authorities are troubling, but thankfully not universal. At GCU (above), quite the opposite is true. We are extremely grateful to the university for their assistance in helping us set up, and their warm encouragement for our endeavours. Furthermore, we have been thoroughly blessed in having the Scottish Network of Catholic Students exist as a body over the past year. Through its meetings and work, we have subsequently had frequent interactions with members of the University of Strathclyde Catholic Society and Glasgow University Catholic Association, from whom we have received extensive guidance, good ideas, and ‘how-to’ tips on best practice.

At our new society, prayer and study of the Catechism are vital to us students increasing our understanding of the principles and values of our Catholic Faith, and how to apply and promote them in our daily lives. Our chaplaincy currently does so by providing regular weekly Mass and meeting fortnightly to watch Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism series. Through this programme we share and reflect on the insights we gain from each episode in hopes to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Christ and His Church.

We are also heavily focused on practising our Faith through the corporal works of mercy, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy that the Holy Father has called. Recently we volunteered alongside the parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for a soup run organised by the Missionaries of Charity. Everyone found this experience to be deeply rewarding, and have arranged to take part again in future.

“It is simply concrete actions of mercy that follow the teachings of Jesus,” Rosie Healy, a second year nursing student, said. “When I feel closest to Him, when I truly know that I am with Him, and Him with me, is when I get to do the simplest and yet most difficult daily thing, loving another. Giving and being in service to those in need even in the things that seem so simple like spending a couple of hours giving soup to the hungry. It’s a humbling and wonderful experience, a true gift from God.”

Fernando Almeida, a PhD civil engineering student, added: “Our food fed their body, but their love fed our souls. A simple person with simple passions, who loves reading or listening to the radio has so much more to teach us than any book could express. It’s so great to meet people, to share experiences and to learn from the differences. God can indeed act in small gestures and we just need to be open to them. Thank you for the amazing opportunity!”

 

With four of the same Missionaries of Charity recently martyred in Yemen, our most current venture was to contribute our gifts and abilities in a Holy Mass offered for Persecuted Christians, by Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell, and organised by Scottish charity, Hope: Human Development and Welfare Association,’ at St Vincent de Paul parish in East Kilbride.

Following the Mass was a presentation and testimonials on the sobering statistics of global Christian persecution.

Hope HDWA was created by the efforts of a family of such persecuted Christians from Pakistan after finding refuge in Scotland. Based firmly on the teachings of Christ, this wonderful charity supports the education of the children of St Anthony’s School, Punjab, and aims to promote equality and tolerance among their communities.

GCU Catholic Society is closely linked with Hope: HDWA, just as the charity aims to promote tolerance and understanding through education, so too is the hope that our society can reach out to other members of the university community to deepen their

tolerance and understanding of our Faith. The opportunity to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering in silence worldwide each day, retaining an unwavering faith in Christ, is an opportunity too solemn, too beautiful and too important for us to ignore.

In this increasingly secular world, we, as students, have identified a pressing need for a community that will support us in integrating our Faith and university life. We are aware of the difficulties we may face, still new and finding our feet, but wholly committed and determined to see this through and ultimately set the tone for generations to come. As we continue to grow, we hope to stand united as a loving and supportive community united by our faith and fraternity.

 

—What do you think about this month’s Faith by Degrees column? Have your say on the Scottish Network of Catholic Students Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com /scotncs

 

—This story ran in full in the March 18 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

 

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