Arts News

WASHINGTON - In the upcoming movie "For Greater Glory," Catholic actor Andy Garcia plays a Mexican Revolution-era general lured out of retirement a decade later to head the insurgent "Cristero" forces doing battle against their own government's severe curbing of religious freedoms, which included the murder of priests, the desecration of churches, and laws designed to reduce the visibility of the Catholic Church in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

It is a battle that the Cuban-born Garcia feels strongly about.

Beatles tune on The Priests' playlist


TORONTO - If you were to ask someone to name a popular vocal group comprised of three male voices, it’s arguable that the answer wouldn’t be The Three Tenors, but rather The Priests. The group comprised of three Irish Catholic priests is currently on tour with a new album in hand, and looking forward to their May 4 concert in Toronto.

"We are looking forward to bringing the music to as many people as possible, and of course there's a big Irish connection in Toronto as well. So we really are looking forward to it. Again, it's a place that has featured highly in our beginnings in this particular journey as The Priests. Toronto has featured highly and given us great support as well," Fr. Martin O’Hagan told The Catholic Register during a phone call from his Rhode Island hotel.

Jesuits ready for Contact


TORONTO - Jesuits are taught to see God in all things. This makes Jesuit photography a little more intense than family snapshots.

This year four Canadian Jesuits will show their photographs as part of the 17th annual Contact festival. With more than 1,000 venues spread around Toronto and as many as 1.8 million sets of eyeballs taking in the work of an international lineup of photographers through the month of May, Contact is the largest photography event in the world.

Bruce Cockburn and his longing for home


TORONTO - When talking to Bruce Cockburn, one is reminded of a line from a Charles Bukowski poem: “I am not even near to being one of them, but they are there and I am here.” It’s not that Cockburn sets himself as a man apart. Rather, he is conduit for a musical and spiritual energy and an artistry that has been embraced and celebrated around the globe. This is because Cockburn, apart from his reputation as a legendary Canadian singer and songwriter, prolific guitar player and passionate humanitarian, is just like many of us — trying to find a place to fit in.

This journey of life and music will be presented on May 4 in a Vision TV world premiere of a new documentary called Pacing the Cage, which follows Cockburn on his 2009 “Slice ‘O’ Life” solo tour and reveals him as artist, activist, Christian and nomad spirit.

Soprano Taylor Strande finds a home in the Catholic Church


TORONTO - Hailed as having “natural acting ability and a clear arcing lyric soprano” by Classical 96.3 radio, praised for “a clear lyric soprano and quite beautiful sound” by Opera Canada, and about to star as Morgana in Opera Nuova’s production of Alcina, Taylor Strande appears headed to operatic greatness.

But despite the many rigours of a professional music career, Strande also parlays her impressive abilities into worship and service through the music ministry of her Catholic Church, particularly her work with the Our Lady of Sorrows chorale.

Rapper Fresh IE turned his back on gangs, drugs


OTTAWA - Rapper Fresh IE could be pursuing a lucrative recording career, but instead the two-time Grammy nominee is “flying in the world’s smallest planes” to some of the most remote communities of the North.

He’s also finding his way to venues in the toughest sections of cities to spread the Gospel.

The message that Fresh, whose real name is Robert Wilson, brings is one of hope and radical conversion and that one does not have to become a slave to drugs or gangs or succumb to temptation of suicide or violence. God can transform the most unlikely person, bring forgiveness and hope.

Catholic reworking of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ makes singer a YouTube sensation


What started with a simple request from her parish priest has made singer Kelley Mooney a YouTube hit garnering more than 426,000 views with her new rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“We were at Easter Mass in our own parish in Iona, P.E.I., and I had sung a song that ended with the word Hallelujah being repeated,” Mooney told The Catholic Register.  “After Mass, our parish priest asked if I would sing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah.’ ”

Promising that she would, she looked up the lyrics. But to her dismay, she found that Cohen’s lyrics were not appropriate for Mass.

Toronto artists lend voices to St. Francis Table


TORONTO - You don't often see a Capuchin friar in his brown habit prowling a nightclub dance floor while singers warm up the gathering crowd. But Br. John Frampton had a definite interest in the crowd that would gather at the storied El Mocambo in downtown Toronto April 17.

A number of Toronto musicians volunteered their time and talent to raise money for St. Francis' Table in an event called Sing For Supper. The unusual venue for a Catholic fundraiser was perfect for reaching out to new supporters, said Frampton.

Jesuit priest’s photos last of doomed Titanic


April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. On that date the four-city-blocks-long ship, deemed unsinkable, hit an iceberg and in less than 2 1/2 hours sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 2,208 passengers, only 712 were rescued. The others perished in the icy north Atlantic.

For many years after, as far as anyone knew, no photos survived of those first carefree days at sea. Then in 1985, a Jesuit priest came across an old trunk in the basement of the Irish Jesuit Provincial House in Dublin, Ireland. It contained a stunning collection of photographs of the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage that were taken by a future Jesuit priest named Francis Browne.

Today, a special room at the remarkable Titanic Ship Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has devoted an entire room to enlargements of Browne’s original pictures — the only surviving record of life aboard that iconic ship. The exhibit is unforgettable.

Vatican Library, Oxford's Bodleian launch major digitization project


VATICAN CITY - In collaboration with the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, England, and thanks to a grant of more than $3 million, a million pages of material from the Vatican Library will be digitized over the next five years.

"Digitizing means better conservation of cultural goods, less arduous consultation, guaranteeing a high-quality reproduction before the original can deteriorate and making them immediately accessible online to many more people," said Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Library.

AGO exhibit showcases life of Catholic artist Jack Chambers


The Canadian artist Jack Chambers (1931-78) is the subject of a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario that runs until May 13 in the Signy Eaton Gallery. “Jack who?” you may wonder.

AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum acknowledges in the first paragraph of his foreword to this show’s catalogue that Chambers’ “work has all but disappeared” from the national consciousness and that this exhibition is “a project of repositioning,” to pull “back into the spotlight an artist indispensable to a history of the image in 20th-century Canada.”