“I will go anywhere you want me to go, I will do anything you want me to do, I will say anything you want me to say.” Those are the words that every missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) prays every day signifying the abdonment that we will go, do, and say whatever it is the Lord is asking of us. CCO missionaries live with a radical abandonment, the willingness to say yes to God for the mission like biblical figures like Abraham, Isaiah or Mary and saints like St. Francis Xavier. They reveal a heart on fire for Jesus and for souls to know Him. In CCO, our mission is shaped after the heart of those I mentioned above. Our mission statement is: CCO is a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. We challenge young people to live in the fulness of the Catholic faith with a strong emphasis on becoming leaders in the renewal of the world. When CCO missionaries say yes to a career with us and to live out CCO’s unique mission, we say yes to living a life of being abandoned. Now typically, how that plays out is that we are abandoned to our placements which can be anywhere in the country or being abandoned to how God provides for our ministry though our efforts in support raising. However, CCO lived this out in the past seven months in a very unforeseen way. We have had to be abandoned in everything that we do so that our mission can continue despite this global pandemic.
When we say the words “I will go, I will do, and I will say,” we didn’t expect that going means staying at home, doing means starting a Zoom call, and saying is looking for ways to creatively invite university students to place Jesus at the centre of their lives through a video screen. But that’s exactly what happened. Our mission of proclaiming Jesus clearly and simply continued despite every physical limitation that the pandemic has placed on us. Abandonment is never easy; doing mission this way has been difficult. We miss personal connections, students are harder to get hold of, and our missionaries and students are longing for community. But when Jesus calls us to something, He knows exactly how even if we can’t see it. It’s hard to see, but I trust that the Lord has good plans in all this. He knows exactly what He is doing. He has called us to a mission to bring University students to Him and He is asking us to do this by going, doing, and saying the things he is asking of us while physical distancing.
Despite our mission seeming impossible, we have seen great fruit throughout this pandemic. In the Spring, we were in the middle of our campus programming when campuses were shut down and everything was moved online. It was a very sudden turnaround, but despite that we were able to retain 91% of our students through accompanying them online. Then shortly after, we cancelled all of our missions this summer due to travel restrictions. The Lord asked us to still have a mission and to do it online. There we saw over 120 students hear the Gospel message proclaimed to them because students joined an online mission and invited their friends to a faith study. And now this normally would be the time where we would be seeking out new students on campus and since no students are on campus, we have found new ways to find new students wether that be through personal invitations, social media campaigns, or reaching out through our networks.
This year has not been easy for most of us. But in this time, the Father still calls us individually. In fact, He is calling every single Catholic, through their baptism, to proclaim Jesus’ name. That may seem daunting and we may not know how, but what I have seen through this pandemic is that He will always provide a way as long as we are willing to go anywhere He wants us to go, do anything He wants us to do, and say anything He wants us to say.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers