| Coptic deacon fights secularism to reach youths
When George Bassilios speaks to college students, "All I want is for them to be uncomfortable; to put a stone in their shoe."
The Coptic Christian deacon explains "We are fighting the secular ideology — atheism, agnosticism, pluralism, materialism, skepticism, relativism."
But without God, "man, money and pleasure become god."
Bassilios cites survey data that in college 61 percent of students leave their faith due to skepticism; 35 percent are atheists or agnostics.
Bassilios is a deacon engaged in youth ministry through St. Antonius Coptic Orthodox Church in Hayward. He spoke to the November Catholics at Work breakfast.
Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, visited St. Antonius last spring to personally express Christian solidarity with the community after the beheading of 21 Coptic workers in Libya by Islamic State militants.
At the time Pope Francis lamented those killings, saying "Their blood is one and the same; their blood confesses Christ."
Describing his experiences talking to students at UC campuses in Berkeley and Davis, Bassilios emphasizes the challenge facing all Christians in contemporary society is to fight the death of truth. The dominant moral relativism and skepticism result in a culture where "man, money and pleasure become god."
So the challenge in providing pastoral care for college students is large and difficult. And that is why he starts by simply trying to put a stone in their shoes.
Bassilios grew up in Egypt's large, vibrant Christian community. At age 13 he migrated to the U.S. A graduate of Cal State Hayward he works professionally in health care marketing, but as a deacon also uses his skills to reach young adults. He and his wife and children live in San Francisco.
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