Arts News

GATINEAU - A new exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization manages to explore the diversity of religious belief without falling prey to moral relativism.

God(s): A User’s Guide also conveys through artifacts from a wide range of faiths and multi-media presentations the amazing diversity of religious expression.

The exhibit, which opened Dec. 2 and will run until Sept. 3, 2012, invites people to contemplate the ultimate questions about meaning that underlie all religious faiths, such as the existence of God, the creation of the universe and life after death.

Vatican newspaper says Shakespeare was secret Catholic


VATICAN CITY - There is "little doubt" that William Shakespeare was a Catholic who was forced to hide his faith in Protestant England while leaving hints about his faith throughout his vast body of work, said an opinion piece in the Vatican newspaper.

Taking a cue from renewed speculation about Shakespeare's true identity sparked by the film "Anonymous," L'Osservatore Romano wrote, "There may be questions regarding his identity, but not his religious faith."

Artist Tim Schmalz’s Nativity sculpture spreads joy of Christmas


TORONTO - As sculptor Tim Schmalz works on his Nativity sculpture, he compares it to a Christmas carol — one of the songs of absolute happiness.

“Throughout this process, what happened was the figures became more joyous, the designs became more lyrical… And it wasn’t ‘Silent Night.’ It was definitely one of loud celebration as far as the representation is concerned,” said Schmalz.

For Catholics who want to rock


Calling all Catholic rock fans.

Musician David Wang has launched a new web site that he hopes will contribute to building an online history of contemporary Christian music. went online in August. It is the brainchild of Wang, leader of the award-winning Canadian Christian rock band Critical Mass and a former music columnist for The Catholic Register. It can be found at and features Wang’s collection of Register columns.

A mother’s wish, and more, comes true


Growing up, Denyse Gervais Regan’s mother Marie Louise would always tell her children stories about her life.

Having been left by her mother in an orphanage at the tender age of four, and then going on to have 14 children of her own, what a story Marie Louise Gervais had to share.

“She’d always end by saying my life story would make a good book and I hope one of you kids one day writes that book for me,” Gervais Regan, 73, told The Catholic Register.

Fr. Lewis finds writing meditative, yet challenging


TORONTO - For Jesuit Father Scott Lewis, writing is a dominant part of his ministry.

A columnist for The Catholic Register for the past eight years, Lewis is the author of the recently published God’s Word on Sunday: Liturgy Reflections from Year B.

“You have to open yourself up to the Spirit when you go to write,” said Lewis on where he gets his inspiration from when he sits down to write his weekly columns. Drawn from his Register columns, God’s Word on Sunday examines the Sunday readings of the 2011-2012 liturgical calendar, a year that focuses on the Gospel of Mark. It follows on the heels of last year’s book on Year A.

Mary Jo Leddy shows us the face of the stranger


TORONTO - Mary Jo Leddy, co-founder of Toronto's Romero House, has discovered a school for Christian living. She has learned to live a Christian life by spending her days and nights among people who have been cut adrift by the violent politics and harsh economics we are usually sheltered from in Canada.

Leddy launched her new book The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home [click here to buy] at Regis College Oct. 20. The book is a spiritual guide to the practical, legal and bureaucratic process of settling refugees in this country. She has spent more than 20 years struggling against what she calls the bureaucratic absurdities and moral blindness of Canada's refugee system.

"Systems supposedly designed to do good develop routines of indifference, procedures for acceptable cruelty," she writes in the 150-page Novalis book.

New magazine brings faith to public square


More than two years in the making, Canada has a new magazine that intends to inject the voice of faith into public debates.

Convivium, which published its preview issue Oct. 18, is modelled on the influential American publication First Things. And just as First Things has been praised as an important vehicle to explore the delicate relationship between religion and society, Convivium publisher Peter Stockland hopes to engage religious-minded Canadians in public debates about the serious moral and cultural issues of our times.

Oratorio rises out of composer’s Holocaust obsession


TORONTO - Composer Zane Zalis has a story to tell. Give him 90 minutes, 200 singers and a huge orchestra and Zalis will lead you through an emotional tale of the Holocaust.

I Believe is a 12-part oratorio that marshals enormous, complex orchestral forces but tells its story with popular, musical theatre singers. The work will get its Toronto premiere at Roy Thomson Hall Oct. 25 as a kind of lead-in to the 31st annual Holocaust Education Week, Nov. 1-9.

Zalis, who grew up Ukrainian Catholic but later slid his family over to the Roman rite, intended his oratorio to be educational and accessible to young listeners.

Nuit Blanche project highlights Sisters of St. Joseph’s


TORONTO - The Sisters of St. Joseph are lighting up Nuit Blanche. They are featured in Cloister, a multimedia art installation spotlighting the Sisters’ nearly 160 years of service in Toronto.

“We want to emphasize their amazing contributions to the city. They are amazing leaders and an inspiration to young girls,” said Judy Pregelj, teacher-librarian at St. Joseph’s College School.

“They have a long tradition of helping the poor,” she said, referring to the Sisters of St. Joseph’s outreach to the poor through numerous operations, including the Furniture Bank and Mustard Seed ministry.

Forgotten Rembrandt sparks Christ art exhibit


TORONTO - For many years, a painting of Christ that sat in storage at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was believed to be a Rembrandt copy.

But there was something about the painting that piqued the curiosity of Canadian art expert Lloyd DeWitt, then the associate curator of the museum’s John G. Johnson Collection. DeWitt since June has been the curator of European art at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto 

Typical of the period, the painting was done on oak. That allowed DeWitt to initiate analysis of the painting using a process called dendrochronology, or “tree ring dating.” He made a remarkable discovery.