My Time at Campion
It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since my Campion story began. It began on a snowy Monday in April 2013. The previous night some truck carrying gas had overturned on the Ring Road, and I had said that I’d take a good friend of mine to Campion for registration.
So, I trekked out to the far east end of the city to pick her up. What normally takes ten minutes took at least thirty plus picking up another friend whom I should have in hindsight collected first. What a start to my career at Campion.
But why had I chosen Campion anyways? Well, it wasn’t because it’s Canada’s only Jesuit undergraduate institution – in fact the only publicly funded Jesuit post-secondary institute in North America.
No, it was simply because it was a Catholic institution in general. See, I had spent my academic career in Catholic schools, and I figured Campion was just a natural stepping stone. Honestly, I never really gave it a second thought. What I didn’t know about Campion was just how special it is and would become for me.
I think what really made Campion an important place to me was meeting Fr John Meehan, SJ PhD. I don’t even know when I met him or how in fact we ended up striking up the friendship and mentoring relationship that we have today. Here was this young, intelligent, bilingual, funny, exceptionally relatable priest. This was something that I had never encountered before.
Fr Meehan, SJ made me feel valued and welcomed in Campion, especially at a time in my personal life when I was ready to fully accept my identity, my sexuality. Lo and behold, Fr Meehan, SJ is one of the first persons to whom I came out.
That first year at Campion made me feel welcome no matter what. It also highlighted that Campion is a safe place for everyone. Campion hosted a panel in February 2014 on LGBT issues and the Catholic Church. It was just what I needed.
The courses I took through Campion have opened the world unto me. From the incoming president of the college, I took Arabic — don’t press me for a conversation, but I can tell you what I studied in university!
The most important courses were taught by Drs Ann and Lee Ward. The Wards taught political thought at Campion and helped to form my academic voice throughout my undergraduate career.
It made sense, I soon learned, to have political thought based in Campion because this stream of political science adheres well to the Ignatian tradition. Little did I know through my first and second year that I was being formed according to a pedagogy that has existed for nearly 500 years.
Campion belongs to a worldwide network of Jesuit educational institutions as well as other Jesuit organisations, such as Ignatian Solidarity Network. ISN puts on annually the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice (IFTJ). I had the privilege of attending this event twice — in 2015 and in 2017.
Both times were simply incredible experiences! Both were very different. To be in the plenary room with all these students from Jesuit institutions like Boston College, Georgetown, Fordham, University of San Francisco, Loyola Chicago, and many more was such an exhilarating moment to live.
These events helped me to forge a strong relationship with, at the time, the youth coordinator for Canadian Jesuits International, Uju Umenyi. Through this event, conversations with Jesuits there, and with Uju, my faith was renewed and strengthened; I was reminded of what the faith is, and I was accepted by my faith for who I am.
Something I took away from my IFTJ experiences as well as other non-Jesuit events is that networking is so important. Although at the IFTJ events I didn’t network as much as I should have, I still made some important links.
An important link that I made at Campion was with the outgoing and last English Canada Provincial, Fr Peter Bisson, SJ. Fr Bisson, like Fr Meehan, has always made me feel welcome, accepted, and valued. For such a busy and important person, I am very grateful to know him and enjoy a laugh or two when he has been in Regina. It was especially nice to see him a week before convocation along with a very special guest.
On the last Monday of May, Campion College, in little Regina, played host to Father General Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. It was such an honour and a pleasure to attend mass that he celebrated and to hear his homily and his remarks after.
I must now confess that I did poor pre-event research. I knew that Father General Sosa Abascal is Venezuelan and that he is the first Latin American to hold this important post. In his remarks, he spoke of his concern for the present weakness of democracy around the world. I figured, ok, yes, this makes sense. He’s a Venezuelan, and democracy has devastatingly crumbled in his homeland.
Little did I know, until I was at home and reading up on his Wikipedia page more thoroughly now, that Father General Sosa Abascal has a PhD in political science. Now it all makes even more sense! Knowing this important fact makes my heart happy to see what people with political science degrees can do.
And now, after five years, I have convocated. I attended the Campion ceremony, and it was as special and meaningful to me as I had always hoped. At the last minute, one of the Jesuits asked me to read the benediction, something that made this celebration even more memorable.
My time at Campion has left a deep, lasting, and important mark on my life. It has been my home, academic and spiritual, for the past many years.
I will always cherish the time that I had as a Campion student as I venture into the big world and other studies in the future. I hold true to my heart what St Ignatius of Loyola said about love, that it ‘ought to show itself in deeds more than in words’, and I hope to uphold the formation I have that formed me in service to others as well as working ever for the greater glory of God.
Photos courtesy of Luke Gilmore