Canadian Michaelites mark three milestones in 2012

MELROSE, ONT. - Ordinarily committed to a prayerful life of service to others, 46-year-old Fr. Andrew Kowalczyk has clearly had to step outside of his comfort zone this past year as he has endeavoured to make the work of the Michaelite Fathers better known. 

Kowalczyk is the provincial of the Canadian delegation of the Poland-based Congregation of St. Michael the Archangel and has been organizing the triple jubilee celebrations the order observes this year.

Finding the spiritual through the lens

TORONTO - When Bruce Watts bought a camera for a Philippines vacation in 1965, he had no idea that the beauty of God would be waiting in the view finder. Capturing a memory was all he had in mind.

“I thought, ‘Gee, I should have a camera for this,’ and it just sort of went from there,” said Watts.

Recently the amateur photographer’s photos were displayed at a Followers of Jesus eco-spirituality retreat earning him a guest-speaker invitation at the Mustard Seed’s Spiritual Spa.

Survey reveals those called to serve getting younger and smarter

TORONTO - A recent study out of the United States is showing that those entering religious orders and undertaking perpetual vows are  younger and more educated than their predecessors of recent years.

“We are encouraged by the report’s findings that men and women are considering a vocation at a younger age,” said Mercy Sister Mary Joanna Ruhland, associate director of the U.S. bishops’ secretariat of vocations and consecrated life, according to Catholic News Agency.

Back to the Capuchin Franciscans, in a roundabout way

TORONTO - To minister or not to minister is no longer the question for Jonathan Andrews, who earlier this year quit his job to become a full-time candidate for the Capuchin Franciscans.

“When I was going to do the nine-to-five it felt very repetitive. I’ve worked in warehouses, factories and offices; I’ve done the full spectrum,” said Andrews, who now nourishes the less fortunate at St. Francis Table in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood.

“I felt that there was no higher purpose. I had no spiritual thing.”

No day is typical in northern Alberta mission area

PEACE RIVER, ALTA. - For Sr. Mary Jeanne Davidson, pastoral assistant at three First Nations missions in the northern Alberta archdiocese of Grouard-MacLennan, every day is an adventure.

“There is no typical day — except that I arrive in each community to spread the Good News of God’s love through my love for the people.”

Holy Spirit inspires church's interpretation of Bible, Pope says

VATICAN CITY - While the text of the Bible is fixed, the same Holy Spirit that inspired its writing continues to inspire its proclamation and interpretation in the church, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The Catholic Church's understanding of the Bible grows through time thanks to the Holy Spirit's guidance and to reflection, study, prayer and preaching, the Pope said in a message to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, an international group of scholars who advise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Prayer, not strategic campaign, is needed during crisis, Pope says

VATICAN CITY - When a community is faced with crisis, persecution and trouble, it should come together in prayer for strength from God, not formulate strategic plans to defend itself from difficulties, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Unity is fundamental, he said, and the community needs to come together and ask "only to proclaim the word of God fearlessly in the face of persecution," not to avoid tests, trials and tribulation.

Sisters of St. Ann turn to province to preserve history

VICTORIA, B.C. - After more than 150 years serving the people of British Columbia, the Sisters of St. Ann (SSA) have a lot of history.

Now the sisters are entrusting their entire historical collection of artifacts to the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria. The world famous museum will keep the collection alive for many future generations to view.

More than 100,000 photographs, 500 pieces of art, a million archival records and 1,000 artifacts chronicling the sisters’ pioneering experience in British Columbia will be handed over in early 2013.

Saint Paul University grants honorary doctorate to Fr. Ron Rolheiser

OTTAWA - If you dream your dream alone, you may make a splash but you will not make a real difference in peoples’ lives, Fr. Ron Rolheiser told Saint Paul University graduates April 13 after receiving an honorary doctorate.

After accepting the award, the popular author, speaker and columnist told the Saint Paul graduates to dream in community if they want to make a real difference in peoples’ lives. He told the story of the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Eugene de Mazenod, who dreamed of serving the poor.

Swiss Cardinal marks Pope's birthday, anniversary defending his teaching

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI does not want to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, but he is working to ensure that "the foundation and heart of the Christian faith shines again," said Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch in a book released in time for the seventh anniversary of the pope's election.

Bishops, theologians and concerned Catholic have an obligation to help the faithful understand the theology and teaching of the pope, Cardinal Koch wrote in the book that was to be presented in Rome April 16, Pope Benedict's 85th birthday and just three days before the anniversary of his election.

Encounter the risen Lord in the Scriptures, Eucharist, Pope says

VATICAN CITY - With Easter flowers and blossoming trees still decorating St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly general audience and encouraged Catholics to let the risen Lord into their hearts and to share his peace with the world.

As he did with the disciples after Easter, "even today the risen Lord can enter into our homes and hearts even if, sometimes, the doors are closed," the Pope said April 11.

"He alone can roll back the burial stone that man often puts over his feelings, relationships and behavior; stones that sanction death, division, hatred, anger, jealousy, mistrust, indifference," Pope Benedict said.