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COMPASS National Conference Prepares Students for Their Mission
The annual “Taking the Pulse” National COMPASS Conference launches college students into the New Evangelization on their campuses.

COMPASS students on board the Natchez, a New Orleans riverboat, ready to explore the Mississippi.
COMPASS students on board the Natchez, a New Orleans riverboat, ready to explore the Mississippi.

New Orleans, Louisiana. October 26, 2008. For the 16 students who participated in the “Taking the Pulse” National COMPASS Conference this past October 24 to 26, the vital signs were looking alive and well. The weekend was packed with Catholic music, spiritual enrichment, opportunities for public pro-life witness, and formative talks on pro-life and bioethics topics, giving the students some tools to face the challenges that await them back on campus and in their future professional lives.

Revving the Engines

The weekend began at Loyola University in New Orleans, where students gathered to enjoy live music by upcoming Catholic artists David Thies and Joel Stein. Thies, a recent graduate of Loyola University New Orleans, is an active member of COMPASS, which includes not only students, but also alumni and professors in its ranks. Stein, a rising Catholic musician, was nominated for five Unity Awards by the United Catholic Music and Video Association, including Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album of the Year. 

On Saturday morning, the conference opened with Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in downtown New Orleans. Father William Farge, SJ, was the main celebrant, with Father Patrick Murphy, LC, concelebrating. In his homily, Father Farge encouraged the students to continue seeking to know and live the truths of their Catholic faith, and to be faithful to their COMPASS commitments as a means of perseverance in their faith during their college years.

After Mass, the students boarded the Natchez, an authentic New Orleans riverboat, where they enjoyed lunch and sightseeing down
Enjoying beignets, an essential part of the New Orleans cultural experience.
Enjoying beignets, an essential part of the New Orleans cultural experience.
the Mississippi River. They also explored historic New Orleans, learning about the city in light of its rich Catholic history.

The afternoon talks by David Thies and Dorinda Bordlee focused on the priorities of evangelization and pro-life work.

Dave Thies spoke about John Paul II’s call for young people to participate in the New Evangelization and the COMPASS motto: taking college life in a new direction. 

Dorinda Bordlee, a graduate of Loyola law school, gave the students an overview of the women’s rights movement and pro-life issues in light of the presidential election. Bordlee currently serves as the executive director of the Bioethics Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization which educates people on human life issues. 

The Catholic Beat Goes Live… for Pro-Life

For many, the highlight of the weekend was their attendance at the 8th annual Unity Awards on Saturday night, celebrating Catholic music and video artists.  Students got to “meet and greet” with prominent Catholic artists, including Matt Maher, John Michael Talbot, the Cajun band L’Angelus, and Sara Hart. 

“The Unity Awards was a great opportunity to see Catholic musicians,” said David Thies. He also observed that the conference provided a good balance between formation and fun. “Over the weekend, we were able to explore our Catholic faith, but at the same time, have fun in a lively atmosphere. We were learning, praying, and growing together while also having a good time, being social, and going out,” he said.

On Sunday morning, students gathered for a prayer vigil, participating in Louisiana
New COMPASS members stand ready for their mission.
New COMPASS members stand ready for their mission.
Right to Life’s “40 Days for Life,” which was organized by COMPASS alumnus Benjamin Clapper. 

After the vigil, the students attended the closing Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church, and 9 students took on their commitments as COMPASS members for the first time. 

Unity for a Cause

Tyler LeCompte, the president of the COMPASS chapter at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette observed a great spirit of unity among the students, who mainly came from two campuses: the Loyola University New Orleans and the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

“It was beautiful to see two groups coming together from two different campuses and completely meshing together. The only common factor between them was their unity and their closeness to Christ,” he said. “There were no cliques or separation. We all just came together and had a great time.”

Bobbie Tonnies, president of the COMPASS chapter at Loyola, commented that this unity will also have a bearing on the organization of future joint events between the two campus chapters.

COMPASS is about reaching out and evangelizing students, person to person, so that they have the chance to know Christ and become part of the Church.

COMPASS is an affiliate of Mission Network and is sponsored by Regnum Christi. For more information about COMPASS and its upcoming events, visit the web page at



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