Carolyn Girard, The Catholic Register

Carolyn Girard, The Catholic Register

{mosimage}TORONTO - There is no doubt that vampires have experienced a renaissance in popular culture, says Jennifer Harris, Christianity and Culture professor at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College. But more interesting, she said, is how the modern vampire takes root in Christian culture.

The Christian elements in vampire stories began with Bram Stoker’s 19th-century novel Dracula, she said. Stoker introduced into romantic literature the religious tools for repelling vampires. He was probably inspired by “scientific” publications such as Benedictine monk Dom Augustine Calmet’s 1746 treatise, in which the monk questioned and explored popular evidence of vampirism.

{mosimage}TORONTO - With no children to turn to, retired priests in Toronto can approach Marisa Rogucki, the co-ordinator of retired diocesan priests in the archdiocese.

She is their go-to person for everything from dental appointments to funerary arrangements. But over the past dozen years, she has also been instrumental in rallying funds for the Shepherd’s Trust, a trust fund supported by an annual collection to raise money to provide for retired priests in years to come.

“We have 84 retired priests now and although we have this collection every year you can imagine this collection isn’t enough to take care of all of them,” she said.

Although priests do receive CPP and old age security, that means practically nothing for many retired priests today.

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Christmas season always brings an upswing in sales for stores specializing in religious items as the public scrambles to buy Christmas cards and wreaths, gifts and Nativity sets for their home.

But for some religious suppliers, this year brought some interesting surprises.

“This year, surprisingly, we’ve been doing really well with Nativity sets. The general public has been buying full Nativity sets, adding pieces to their existing ones and also little baby Jesus’ on their own,” said Sal DiCarlo, head of DiCarlo Religious Supply Centre in Toronto.

{mosimage}TORONTO - A congregation founded 400 years ago received a surprise ending last month to its year-long anniversary celebration.

On Dec. 19, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the “heroic virtues” of Sr. Mary Ward, the English founder of the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary —  also known as the Loretto Sisters — declaring her “venerable.”

{mosimage}LONDON, Ont. - Toronto’s newest bishop from London has been a chemical engineer, a parish pastor, a professor, a seminary rector and now begins his journey as auxiliary bishop.

But to those who know him well, Bishop William McGrattan is a good friend, a systematic teacher and a creative leader who knows how to incorporate the laity into the church.

{mosimage}LONDON, Ont.- It was hard to tell friends, family and supporters apart at Bishop William McGrattan’s Jan. 12 ordination.

Close to 1,000 joyful people, including 150 priests, nearly 35 bishops and archbishops and about 40 relatives, packed St. Peter’s Cathedral in London to give a hug and their congratulations to a long time friend, associate pastor, teacher, seminary leader and now auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Toronto. He is also titular bishop of Furnos Minor.

{mosimage}TORONTO - To Dorothy Pilarski, helping catechize mothers is almost an emergency today. This is one reason why the Toronto-based mother and pioneer of a mothers’ group organized a conference titled “Dynamic Women of Faith” this month.

“Mothers are getting busier and busier, more spiritually exhausted and spiritually depleted,” Pilarski said.

The March 6 event took aim at topics Pilarski said Catholic mothers need to give peace and meaning to their lives.

{mosimage}MONTREAL - Just two days after the announcement of Brother André’s canonization, St. Joseph’s Oratory had no lack of pilgrims filing past his tomb.

One young woman, who would not reveal her name, stopped and prayed at the various stations depicting St. Joseph’s life, leading up to Brother André’s crypt.

“I come often because I’m a believer and it’s renewing,” she said.
{mosimage}TORONTO - When Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 entered her teenage son’s vocabulary this year, Mary hit the panic button. First, she didn’t like that “all his friends” were playing this game with a mature rating, and second, she worried about the impact a controversial terrorist mission within the game might have on his developing mind. The arguments began.

“I didn’t know what to do,” said Mary, who’s name has been changed for this story. “My son is a great kid, he does really well in school and he just wants to play the game to unwind.”

I tend to look back at my childhood summer breaks as a time of genuine relaxation and renewal. When I was an elementary school student, I always looked forward to summer because it meant I would have more time to ride around on my bicycle, soar down our bumpy road with my cousin’s hand-me-down rollerblades, swim and take walks with my siblings or friends or sit outside in the sun to read a book. Because of that joyful time off, I always seemed to have more energy for doing my school work throughout the fall and winter.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that appreciating and enjoying God’s beauty in nature and in the summer weather can be a great prayer of thanksgiving — if we recognize it as such.