THINKfast 2021: faith, fasting and fun

Over 500 people from across Canada participated in the online THINKfast, raising over $16,000 for our programs and projects.

THINKfast is a 25-hour Development and Peace event that usually brings students together in Catholic schools to learn about and “experience” the challenges of poverty through fasting, activities and reflection. With the pandemic precluding in-person THINKfasts for the second successive year, we held a virtual version of the popular event from March 11 to 12, 2021. Over 500 people of all ages “Zoomed in” from across Canada.

Fasting, prayer, games, reflections, documentaries and discussion helped deepen participants’ understanding of the spirit of Development and Peace and the Catholic calling to solidarity. They heeded this call not only by raising over $16,000 for community-led projects in the Global South, but also (and more importantly) by gaining insight into the structural underpinnings of poverty and injustice. Participants left with the empowering conviction that their actions here in Canada could make a real difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Global South.

Here are some students’ impressions of the THINKfast experience.

Connection, expression, realization

Luke, from the York Catholic District School Board, said, “For a couple years now, I have had a strong desire to work with other students who also want to make the world a better place and participating in this THINKfast has helped me do that.”

A student from St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School in Brampton, Ont. said, “Being able to write about my thoughts on Development and Peace and their incredible work on Padlet was refreshing. In addition, I enjoyed reading other people’s thoughts, as well as looking at the various images people had uploaded….”

“When I think about natural disasters such as typhoons, I think of them as consequences that will happen in the future,” Luke, admitted. A documentary he watched during the THINKfast made him realize that “these natural disasters are already happening. It reminded me to take better care of the Earth….”

Luke also thought of non-governmental organizations as mere providers of aid. He came to understand “that the idea is not to help people, but to give people the resources they need to help themselves.” THINKfast framed poor, disaster-struck people as worthy, courageous agents who, with a little support, are perfectly capable of rebuilding their lives. “This is something that I never would have learned if I hadn’t taken part in this THINKfast.”

Faith and solidarity

A student from Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton, Ont. said, “THINKfast lets me think of hope, solidarity and peace in the world. It allows me to have faith in humanity. It gives you an insight to what we as humans need to think about the choices we make everyday…. THINKfast also allows you to self-reflect… and take time to think how you could make the world a better place…. Here, we exercise our faith and fasting as a unit together.”

A student from Saint Michael Secondary School in Bolton, Ont. said, “I had learned the meaning of solidarity [is] to come together as brothers and sisters walking alongside each other. This has educated me to better understand the importance of building a mutual relationship. I did not know that fundraising is a partnership system of building solidarity in fixing social issues rather than doing the work for other countries.”

A student from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board appreciated “the engagement, interest, attentiveness, and communication amongst participants,” adding, “I was able to end the entire fast with not only a fresh and fasted body, but also a clear mind about how significant solidarity is and many other lessons.”

Discovering Development and Peace

A student from Niagara Catholic District School Board who learnt that Development and Peace supports partners “in fields such as agriculture, education, community actions and advocacy for human rights” and “spreads awareness to Canadian citizens” felt that “Thinkfast is an amazing way to get involved in social justice around the globe. There are many fun activities and conversations that I think anyone who likes helping others would enjoy.”

“I didn’t know that THINKfast was an initiative that people all over Canada took part in,” a student from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, said, adding, “I’m glad it is this way because I was able to connect with so many different people who share many different experiences and have different insights.”

The THINKfast program included testimony from our partners in the Philippines.

A ringing recommendation

Asked how he would invite others to future THINKfasts, Luke said, “Other than earning volunteer hours [that count for school credits], participating in a THINKfast is a great way to meet new people and collaborate with them in order to manage various social justice issues in the Global South.”

Luke would also recommend the opportunity “to hear from others who have been working with Development and Peace for decades as well as those affected by natural disasters” and to “learn how to conquer social justice issues and make the world a better place.”

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