Written by: Evy Ayers, Grade 11, Monsignor Doyle Secondary School

Students volunteer to participate in Doyle’s third-annual “Phone-Fast.”

During the weeks leading up to Easter weekend, WCDSB schools and students decided to celebrate this year’s Lent in a variety of ways, showcasing their unique relationships with faith. In previous years, Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary School had opted for a unique approach for the celebration of Lent, and this year was no different. On Wednesday, March 27, the school hosted their third-annual phone fast.

This digital detox allows students to earn a total of eight volunteer hours by participating in a 24-hour Lenten fast. Event coordinator, Anne Denomme, explains that sign-up for the event takes place on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., with participants abstaining from cell phone usage until the same time the following night.

As this is a Lenten fast and not a competitive event, there was no penalization if participants broke their fast early, still collecting the number of volunteer hours they were able to complete. The promised volunteer hours do not stem from the entire fasting period, but rather from the final eight hours spent together. After school on March 27, students gathered in the school’s chapel to engage in board games, socialization, and learning about the negative impacts of social media usage for the remainder of the fast.

In the years that Monsignor Doyle has had the pleasure of organizing this event, the response from students has proven to be overwhelmingly positive. Participants of the event have even enthusiastically shared their personal experiences, urging non-participants to embrace the opportunity and join them in future phone-fasts.

Before the fast came to its conclusion, Grade 9 student Rose stated, “It’s like a good experience. People should actually try it,” elaborating further, “I felt it was easier to focus, and I was actually listening to my friends without checking my phone.”

“It helped me realize how much I use my phone, so it might give some other people the same effect,” Rose said. When asked what aspect of the fast was unexpected, Rose states, “I would say how difficult it was. It was a lot more difficult than I expected. I was definitely a little nervous,” further acknowledging a feeling of slight anxiousness that was present during the early hours of the fast, due to the separation from her device.

The following day, on March 28, another participant graciously agreed to provide some insight regarding the entire experience. She said, “I feel like the biggest challenge of yesterday was trying to start a conversation with people,” continuing to share how she believes many people her age struggle with face-to-face interaction. “I feel like that was the hardest thing, but when you’ve got a conversation going, people will finish it. It was good.”

She added, “Personally, I thought it was really fun. I’m probably going to do it again next year because it wasn’t just like school. You got to hang out with friends and do a whole bunch of stuff,” referencing the activities hosted the previous evening.

Overall, Monsignor Doyle’s third annual phone fast proved to be a beaming success, offering students a valuable opportunity for introspection and personal growth, while receiving volunteer hours in exchange for participation. During an age of social media and technological reliance, events such as these remind students of their surroundings, impacting the way they view their environment and interactions by stepping away from constant connectivity. Proving that despite the hardships that come with parting from a commodity so intensely integrated into one’s routine, these hardships can lead to a positive outcome.


“Crazy Eights.” Photographed by Aryanna Sabourin, 2024.

This article is part of the WCDSB Jr. Journalist program, a new initiative designed to provide journalistically inclined secondary students with a platform to share stories from their school and showcase their impressive talents.

Are you a Secondary School student interested in joining the program? If so, please contact Lema.Salaymeh@wcdsb.ca