The Choir Boy connects new, old Toronto

{mosimage}TORONTO - If you’re strolling by the Eaton Centre this Christmas season, you should know there’s a Christmas present waiting for you in one of the store windows.

It’s not a Nintendo Wii, a box of chocolates or anything else you might feel compelled to buy before Dec. 25. It’s just a story about a St. Michael’s Choir School boy, his family and the build-up to Christmas. It’s called The Choir Boy and will be presented in 25 installments in a downtown Sears store window between Nov. 30 and Christmas Eve. It will also be posted online at www.thechoirboy.ca .

Celtic performance celebrates all Irish

{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Nearly 200 people gathered inside St. Marguerite D’Youville parish Dec. 11 to witness and enjoy otherworldly performances by many of Canada’s best musicians and musical directors, including Juno-nominated Loretto Reid.

An ensemble of nine vocalists and six instrumentalists, mostly between the ages of 24-35, mixed traditional Celtic songs with contemporary Christmas carols on this evening, and again at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto Dec. 12.

Dead Sea Scrolls shatter ROM records

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit comes to a close at the Royal Ontario Museum Jan. 3 after six months of unmatched popularity in the museum’s history.

“It’s definitely come down to between this and the Egyptian Art and the Age of the Pyramids which was in 2000,” ROM media spokesperson Marilynne Friedman said before Christmas. “There’s the expectation that 300,000 people will have visited the scrolls by close on Jan. 3.”

Gregorian chant is old school for Luke Togni

{mosimage}HALIFAX - Luke Togni is old school — very old school. Or old schola, if you prefer.

Togni, 22, is passionate about Gregorian chant and refers to himself as “second in command” in a Halifax-based chant group, or schola. Directed by Robert Bruce and together for the past two years, the schola sings monthly at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Halifax, and less frequently at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Halifax.

The refugee rap video funded by Toronto refugee office

{mosimage}TORONTO - When a 14-year-old boy from Sri Lanka arrived on his doorstep in Accra, Ghana, with little ability to communicate in English, 26-year-old Michael Baah saw firsthand just how difficult it can be for refugees to get help.

So he made a music video about it.

The video, “Refugee Appeal,” produced by Martin Mark, director of the Office for Refugees of the archdiocese of Toronto, was posted on YouTube shortly before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees declared Piratheeprajh SriVijayarajarajan a vulnerable, at risk youth in need of expedited processing.

Restoration help St. John's reconnect with its past

{mosimage}TORONTO - St. John’s Church isn’t what it used to be, but to Lynn East it feels like home.

“This is lovely. It’s like coming home again,” said East as she gazed from the back pew up toward the altar.

East was married at St. John’s on Kingston Road in Toronto’s east end in 1969. Shortly after her wedding the church went through major, post-Concilliar surgery. Not only was the communion rail taken down and the altar turned around, but the icons painted on the wall behind the altar were painted over and the grotto-like shrine for Mary filled in, covering up one of the church’s stained glass windows.

Artist Galina Oussatchevafaith enlightened through iconography

{mosimage}TORONTO - There’s an art to looking at eternity, but figuring that out wasn’t easy for 29-year-old Russian-Canadian iconographer Galina Oussatcheva.

Oussatcheva grew up in communist and post-communist Moscow at a time when Russian society was still phobic about religion and as secularized and post-Christian as any capital in Western Europe. She first saw Russian icon painting when she was 10 years old, on a class trip to the Cathedral of the Dormition of Mary in the Kremlin.

Regis College's new homes welcomes its first art show

{mosimage}TORONTO - Artist Catherine Crowe stood quietly, contemplating three of fellow painter Galina Oussatcheva's icons hanging in the lobby of Regis College, and then pronounced, "These are spectacular."

In front of another stretch of wall Jesuit scholastic Trevor Scott was inspecting sculptor Farhad Nargol-O'Neill's 14 compressed and complex stations of the cross, and was very pleased.

Good intentions lost in political correctness

Politically correct booksWhat does Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson and Malcolm X have to do with teaching children about the Catholic faith?

According two new books for Catholic students, teaching kids about Catholic saints and traditions means teaching them about multiculturalism and social justice, while skimming on details about the Catholic Mass.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with introducing children to the hot-button issues of our time like combating racism. In fact, it’s crucial to make the connection between faith and how it is lived out in society.

But in trying to be all things to all people, Jeanne Hunt’s Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children (St. Anthony Messenger Press) and Lisa Freemantle and Les Miller’s Words for the Journey for Kids: Ten-Minute Prayer Services for Schools (Novalis) may be taking kids on a detour that falls short of teaching kids what their faith is really about.

Photographer-priest makes viewer present in Dene land

Way Down NorthWhat makes Fr. René Fumoleau’s photography worth looking at is just where the missionary priest from France took his photos.  

Fumoleau showed up in the Dene lands straddling the Arctic Circle in 1953. He bought his first Pentax 35 mm camera in 1956. Without training or direction, he created a body of images that document the land and its people over 40 critical years of history for the Dene, all captured in a new book.

Jesuit author makes atheist arguments against God look silly

New ProofsNew Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy, by Robert J. Spitzer, (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 319 pages, softcover, $30.99).

Post-Newtonian physics has put philosophy and theology in the curious position of having to turn back to the Middle Ages. Suddenly what the scholastic theologians had to say about metaphysics and ontology is au courant.

When the apple fell on Newton’s head he came up with laws of physics which described a fully functioning closed system. Those laws could keep the whole thing going forever and had no absolute need for God. St. Thomas Aquinas’ “uncaused cause” argument thereby fell into disfavour. Metaphysics lost credence and was replaced at the centre of philosophy by epistemology — the question of how we know what we know. Ontology, the study of being, which had been the main preoccupation of medieval Western metaphysics, was bypassed.