Members feel at home at the Chinese Catholic Club
Gabrielle Tsai’s adjustment to life in Toronto after moving from Vancouver presented challenges, but the University of Toronto’s Chinese Catholic Club (UTCCC) scholarship made her feel right at home.
“As I moved away from home, joining UTCCC eased my transition by giving me a sense of belonging and support. The club was almost like a “safe bubble” to be with other young Chinese Catholics, “said the 20-year-old, who specializes in human biology, psychology and bioethics.
UTCCC was founded in 2001 by a group of students from Hong Kong who were looking for something that “looks a little more like home” in Toronto, namely a community sharing the same Catholic beliefs and the same Chinese cultural identity.
“For most of us in the club, our parents are immigrants – we are in (the) minority. That’s why it’s so important to have a community that understands your faith and how you grew up, ”continued Tsai, UTCCC vice president of administration.
Sponsored by the Newman Center, the university’s residency chaplaincy department, UTCCC hosted group meetings and in-person sacramental events ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, weekly meetings take place on Zoom and focus on three main pillars: catechesis, community prayer and social life.
This emphasis on united brotherhood is welcome for Tsai, who said the UTCCC is always there for her, even in her most difficult times.
“Even though I always grew up a Catholic, due to some anti-religious classes I took in school, I struggled with my faith. I shared my doubts and asked my questions at the club, which helped me clear up the mores.
Throughout his college career, 19-year-old Jonah Nung, a music studies graduate, never had a formal Catholic education. So the value of a club where you are empowered to talk about spiritual matters and deepen your faith is of particular importance.
“The club is a great resource because you can share, grow spiritually, and engage in meaningful discussions with people who understand where you are from. Often times, the Chinese cultural element is not always manifested in meetings, but we share a common set of specific experiences growing up in Chinese, ”said Nung, vice president of logistics for the club.
“We love to pray the rosary and the lecto divina together as a group. In addition, the opportunity to share testimonies always encourages members in their faith, ”said Karen Kuang, Past President of UTCCC.
Although the 22-year-old initially described herself as a “reluctant president,” during her presidency, she expanded the club from a traditionally alumni-focused group to accept more senior students. cycle and non-Chinese members, thus forging a strong, diverse and young community.
“There is a fairly close-knit community of Chinese Catholic clubs throughout the province. Each year, UTCCC participates in two retreats, in the fall and winter semesters, with CACs from other Ontario universities such as Western, McMaster and Waterloo, ”said Kuang, who just completed his fourth year with a major in biomedical toxicology and pharmacology.
In addition to being interconnected with several other clubs across Ontario, UTCCC works with a Chinese Catholic community in Eastern Canada, which includes six Chinese Catholic parishes. The Eastern Canada Chinese Catholic Life Camp holds retreats every Labor Day weekend for approximately 150 Chinese teenagers and young adults.
(Vecchiato, 16, is a grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic High School in Toronto.)