Faith

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said he was happy to see that "the faith in my German homeland has a young face, is alive and has a future."

At his weekly general audience Sept. 28 in St. Peter's Square, the pope told an estimated 10,000 pilgrims and visitors about his trip Sept. 22-25 to Germany.

While the pilgrims were awaiting the pope's arrival by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo and again at the end of the audience when he was greeting cardinals and bishops, the crowds were entertained by the Angelus Domini children's choir and nine little dancers from Cheongju, South Korea. Even while the children were singing, a violinist met the pope and played a quick tune for him, standing right in front of him.

When the call came, the Callaghans answered

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TORONTO - When Molly and Bill Callaghan went north to maintain a Chistian presence in small native communities they had years behind them of working in Toronto-area parishes as a deacon couple. Bill had the background in Scripture and theology that comes with the diaconate program while Molly had experience that goes with a lifetime of volunteering in the Church.

But none of that mattered very much, said Molly.

“We took an egg crate-sized box of stuff we had used in different days of recollection, training sessions, all of that,” Molly recently recalled of their 1991 trip to Sandy Lake, Ont. “We got up there and thought before we do anything about that we need to just be present to the people, keeping their trust and doing what we feel called to do. We came back (in 1998) with that box unopened.”

A working vacation changed 16-year-old’s view of Africa

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Celeah Gagnon spent her summer vacation abroad. But she didn’t spend it tanning in Cuba or backpacking across Europe. For five weeks, she was in Africa helping her grandmother.

Her grandmother is Barbara Michie, a Scarboro Missions lay missioner who is working as a teacher in Malawi at an all-boys Catholic boarding school.

During this time, Gagnon, a Grade 11 student at F.J. Brennan Catholic High School in Windsor, Ont., mended about 300 books in the school library, which her grandmother runs.

Military chaplain finds there’s no life like it

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TORONTO - For  Major Gillian Federico the call to serve as a military chaplain came at a time in her life when few seriously consider joining the Canadian Forces.

It was 19 years ago when the then 41-year-old religious education and family life consultant with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and pastoral associate decided to enrol in the army reserves as a military chaplain.

Now at age 60 she recently retired from the Chaplain Branch of the Canadian Forces with the rank of Major, having served in a variety of full- and part-time assignments, including regimental and brigade chaplain in Toronto, instructor at the Canadian Forces Chaplain School, Deputy Senior Garrison Chaplain at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa and Deputy Area Chaplain for the regular army command in Ontario.

Spiritan makes his way back to Malawi in a roundabout way

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Spiritan Father Locky Flanagan tries to lead by example as spiritual director at the Inter-Congregational Seminary, a philosophy seminary in Malawi, Africa.

“I try to look at the seminarians and what they seem to be seeking is to know the Lord and to follow Him and I have to live it out myself,” Flanagan told The Catholic Register from Ireland, where he was attending a niece’s wedding.

Flanagan’s most recent stint in Malawi began in early 2009. But prior to this, he served in the southern African country for 10 years — in the 1980s and then again in 2000.

We are all called to serve

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TORONTO - With the first words of his homily, Fr. Len Altilia, S.J., made the Sunday congregation at St. Rose of Lima parish in Scarborough sink in the pews.

“How many of you have a vocation?” the Jesuit vocations director asked.

A scattered collection of brave hands rose hesitantly as others looked around.

“How many of you are baptized?” was the next question from the guest homilist.

Can’t take the actor out of the priest

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VANCOUVER - You don’t have to be a Broadway actor to be a good priest, says Fr. Edward Danylo Evanko, pastor of the Dormition of Our Mother of God Church in Richmond.

“But,” he adds, lapsing into a Manhattan Yiddish accent, “it wouldn’t hoit.”

Evanko was an actor on Broadway, as well as in Hollywood, in television and film, for more than 30 years before a seemingly chance conversation at Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral pointed him to the priesthood. Once a priest, he thought he had put acting behind him, but he was wrong.

Chaplains help foster pros spiritual side

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VANCOUVER - Pro athletes receive huge salaries and benefit from armies of professionals behind the scenes tending to their mental and physical health so they can perform at the top of their game.

However, when the pressure takes its toll on players and they start to feel spiritually drained, the sports chaplain’s ministry comes into play.

“Our purpose is to serve the community within the team, and our focus is on the person, not their position,” said Dave Klassen, national pro ministry director for Athletes in Action, Canada, whose members work to nurture the spiritual side of athletes. “We’re not trying to find a cure for the athlete so that they can get out on the field and perform as quickly as possible; we care about the whole person.”

After 75 years of service, only one proposal worthy for this sister

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FORT SASKATCHEWAN, ALTA. - At age 18, Ada Toner was still contemplating what to do with her life. She had no parents, no education and no profession. As well, within the span of a year, she had received marriage proposals from four different men.

“I was picking berries one day, and I looked over and asked myself which one of those guys would I like to spend the rest of my life with. Then I saw the face of Jesus, and I don’t know if it was in the clouds or a feeling within me or what it was,” she said.

This was her first calling to religious life — a calling she was at first reluctant to accept. She felt like a nobody, with nothing of value to offer the Church. But she took hold of the opportunity and on Sept. 8, 1936 joined the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception.

Long search ends for sister

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EDMONTON - While others around her believed she would make a good sister, it took Sr. Christina Wong a long time to realize it herself.

As a high school student in Hong Kong, she was asked by the sisters who ran the school whether she had considered becoming a nun.

“I was under 20 and I didn’t take their question too seriously because in a convent school the sisters looked after the students,” said Wong, seeing a reverence in them that she did not see in herself.

But after years of searching, Wong made her perpetual vows as a Sister of Providence Sept. 17 at the chapel of Providence Renewal Centre.

From Chile to a religious call in Canada

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EDMONTON - By most standards, Sr. Loreto Andrea Leon Soto was like any other girl growing up in Santiago, Chile. Becoming a nun never occurred to the young girl who had a normal upbringing with close friends and a boyfriend.

But enter religious life she did. After five years of religious formation, Leon made her first profession of vows Sept. 20 at Providence Renewal Centre.

Leon came from a strong Catholic home where faith was essential. Christmas and Holy Week were more than just liturgical celebrations, they were a time to fully express the faith.