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“I was physically, intellectually and spiritually nourished….”

Some of the 60+ people from across Canada who joined the online THINKfast held from Holy Thursday to Good Friday.

When COVID-19 closed Catholic schools and churches, Development and Peace sprang into action. In addition to a meaningful culmination to the Lenten spiritual journey, we wanted to offer students access to Catholic social justice learning and opportunities to earn service hours toward coursework and graduation requirements.

To these ends, we held our first-ever nationwide online THINKfast learning and fundraising event from Holy Thursday to Good Friday (April 9 to 10, 2020). In addition to fasting in solidarity with the world’s poor, participants enjoyed a 20-hour program of activities including a “race” across virtual learning locations; arts and crafts; song writing; prayer and reflection; and a question-and-answer session with Development and Peace’s partners, Caritas Lebanon, who are supporting Syrian refugees during the pandemic.

The event attracted 60 participants from across Canada, who raised over $10,000 for Development and Peace’s programs and projects. To share their experience and expressions, check out our THINKfast album and read their testimonies below.

What students said

“The scavenger hunt was a fun way to move around the house, especially if you haven’t done anything active in awhile. It was a great way for us to connect and have fun!”
— Keith, Grade 10, Toronto Catholic District School Board

“I learnt a lot about the seringueiros. It is a really fun and great experience…. It helped me appreciate how fortunate I am, and I should donate and help any way I can.”
— Jane, Grade 9, Sudbury Catholic District School Board

“I enjoyed learning more about the Amazon rainforest issue as well as other initiatives of Development and Peace. Before the THINKfast, I knew that the Amazon rainforest was suffering from deforestation, but I did not know why.”
— Rylan, Grade 11, Halton Catholic District School Board

“This is something everyone should hear about since it affects our future. I would like to do this again next year…, preferably… leading an activity. It would be fun to help out!”
— Sara, Grade 9, Sudbury Catholic District School Board

“We are able to connect with our community in such a deep and meaningful way.”
— Isabelle, Grade 10, Halton Catholic District School Board

What others opined

“All I had to do was invite my students and staff and then show up. I could get used to this. …THINKfast will continue to be an annual tradition of our Canadian Catholic community. I was physically, intellectually and spiritually nourished these past couple of days. What a powerful Christian witness the young people were and gave!”
— Lorenzo Campanelli, Development and Peace member and chaplain, Halton Catholic District School Board

“I travelled to the Amazon in 2009. [It] felt like entering a riot of green. There was life everywhere and bursts of colour from the plants and animals…. [The] ground was like an insect superhighway. I am not an artist, but this is my best attempt at capturing that memory.”
— Stephanie Jarett, Chaplaincy Leader, Niagara Catholic District School Board

“Because of my age, it never occurred to me to participate in a THINKfast. I always assumed it was for youth. This [virtual event] was my chance! It felt good to be part of this instant community of people who are concerned about social justice for the poor and are willing to do something about it. [The] best part of all was experiencing the incredibly warm and committed young leaders/animators…. Their humour was infectious. Yet, when the moments called for it, they were reflective and prayerful. …these are authentic, faith-filled people. This gives me hope. Peter, the youth leader from Caritas Lebanon, was such an inspiration. I hope they organize one next year. I will definitely sign up.”
— Anna Dorner, Development and Peace member and retired teacher, Ottawa

“The presentation from Caritas Lebanon helped me understand the different realities that we face. The animators were filled with energy and inspired me to continue creating a network of solidarity in my own parish.”
— Jason Cegayle, Development and Peace member and Youth Minister, Winnipeg

“It was great to see so many people participating together. During this pandemic, social isolation can be difficult (it is for me) and it was great to be part of the event and support the good work that you all do.”
— Agnes Richard, Coordinator, Global Catholic Climate Movement – Canada

Spread the joy

Jen Geddes, Chaplaincy Lead at Sudbury Catholic District School Board, was so inspired by THINKfast that she modelled her school’s virtual Earth Day event on it, using some of our experiential activities with her students.

Like her, you too, can bring THINKfast-like experiences and a social justice message to your parish or school. Write us at schools@devp.org to learn how and to sign up for our newsletter.

Support the cause

Despite these tough economic times, if you are able to give, even a little, we would be most grateful if you considered donating to Development and Peace or to our THINKfast fundraiser. Your generosity will allow us to continue supporting our partners whose help the world’s most vulnerable people need even more during this pandemic.

We thank all THINKfast participants and donors for their solidarity with our partners in the Global South.

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