The Good Thief's tale of redemption

{mosimage}When Jesus welcomes the good thief into paradise, St. Dismas has clearly had no opportunity to make amends for his deeds, reform his way of life or even say he is sorry to his victims.

When Australian actor Allan Girod presents the Canadian premier of Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief at Toronto’s Fringe Festival , audiences will have an opportunity to ask themselves whether they could follow Jesus’ example and welcome a dangerous, violent man into their society.

Linden MacIntyre's Christian soldier slogs on

{mosimage}The priest as a hardworking assassin just doing his job, eliminating child abusers and perverts from the priestly ranks, is not a very likely starting point for a serious novel about a man in middle age struggling with meaning in his life. Award-winning CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre makes it work in The Bishop’s Man .

It’s been 21 years since the Mount Cashel Orphanage scandal erupted — the first of a long series of awful stories about sexual and physical abuse of minors by Catholic priests and vowed religious. While David Harris’s Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel did the journalistic job back in 1991, it has taken this long to get a thoughtful treatment of the post-scandal church in a novel.

Toronto artist, Farhad Nargol-O’Neill, aims for 2011 Venice Biennale

{mosimage}TORONTO - For some artists the idea of devotional art may be laughable — an obscure subspecies of Hallmark greeting card imagery with no purpose other than to excite shallow sentiment. But for Toronto sculptor and painter Farhad Nargol-O’Neill there’s no such thing as meaningful art without devotion.

“Creation of art is an act of devotion,” Nargol-O’Neill told The Catholic Register on a recent visit to his studio.

Ellen Gable Hrkach's success proves romance novels need not be smutty

{mosimage}In the beginning, she just wanted to tell her story. But now, writing has become something of a vocation for Ellen Gable Hrkach — secondary to her marriage and motherhood of course — as she weaves fictional romance with church teachings on sexuality.

“Fiction is a wonderful way to evangelize and I don’t think it’s used enough,” Hrkach said.

The Ottawa Valley mother of five boys first set out with the mindset that if she touched one person’s life, that would be enough. But more than one person has been moved by Emily’s Hope, published in 2006, and have gone on to devour her second novel, In Name Only, released this year. The self-published author has sold 1,700 copies of her first book and continues to get a passionate response from readers.

A creative city is a spiritual city

{mosimage}TORONTO - During his five years as Toronto’s poet laureate, Fr. Pier Giorgio Di Cicco says what’s surprised him the most is the “unspoken need for spirituality” in Canada’s largest and most prosperous city.

Di Cicco told The Register in an e-mail interview that there has been a surprisingly “deep civic hunger” in the city. He said his presentations, talks and city-building initiatives to different community groups echoed “a call to a common spiritual language.”

Capturing Mother Teresa's beauty on canvas

{mosimage}TORONTO - Dissipating fear, a beacon of hope, the wanderer, the desert breeze, showing the Messiah to the world — these are just some of the descriptions Albanian artist Ilir Fico gives to Mother Teresa, the subject of 50 of his paintings, 23 of which will be on display at St. Paul’s Basilica Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

It has been a decade since Fico has shared so many of his works on Mother Teresa in Canada. The last big exhibit was a collection of about 40 paintings at a library in Belleville, Ont. But after being invited to display them at the Vatican embassy in Washington in November last year for the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, and again at Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, he felt a renewed call to share Mother Teresa through his abstract creations with a wider audience. And so he began approaching churches in Toronto.

Ten Commandments on display at ROM

{mosimage}TORONTO - As the Royal Ontario Museum unveiled the second half of its six-month exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Words That Changed The World, the exhibit had already welcomed more than 160,000 people — about 50,000 more than museum officials had anticipated for the July to October period.

Kicking off the second three-month installment was a rare fragment of the largest and best preserved parchment of the Ten Commandments, on display for just 80 hours between Oct. 10 and 18.

Jesuit archives 'very precious' to Canada

{mosimage}Three linear kilometres of books, documents and artifacts await scholars in the new home of the Canadian Jesuit archives in Montreal.

With material dating back from five centuries, the recently opened joint archive of Canada’s two Jesuit provinces, English and French, includes more than 300 items from New France in the 1600s, 18,000 books, 1,500 rare books and the memoirs and official records of generations of Jesuits who have been more than priests. Doctors, scientists, theologians, academics, social workers, community leaders and activists have been Canadian Jesuits over the centuries.

Relating church architecture to faith

{mosimage}TORONTO - Since Vatican II, many churches have dropped their bells, changed their seating arrangements, moved the tabernacle off to the side and more.

But modern building codes and technology aren’t the only culprits in the deviation from traditional romanesque and gothic structures — the change also reflects an individualized approach to theology, said Michael Nicholas-Schmidt, whose recent Masters of architecture thesis focused on sacred space.

An untold tale on the path to Polish freedom

{mosimage}TORONTO - The latest Polish film sensation has made its appearance in Canada, telling the gripping tale of a hero priest and martyr who risked his life to oppose Poland’s oppressive government.

Popieluszko: Freedom Is Within Us made its North American premiere with a pair of screenings Oct. 31 at the Imax Theatre at Ontario Place, with the story of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, a young and charismatic priest who spoke out against social injustice in communist Poland in the early 1980s and was later murdered by the Polish secret service.

The film is in Polish with English subtitles. It is playing at Empire Theatres in Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre from Nov. 6-12.

Christine Granger spreads the Virgin's wonder through iconography

{mosimage}TORONTO - Painting is to Christine Granger as singing is to the choir. Granger, an accomplished iconographer, has spent the past 30 years capturing the divine on canvas, mostly producing icons of the Virgin Mary and child.

“I can’t sing so I have to paint and I do it in colour and I do the same thing as the Gospel songs, I hope,” Granger said. “I praise and I thank and I say through my art Christianity is a wonder and a joy and I feel in spite of everything we have something so special in being Christian. We have this joy that can never leave us.”