The Priests to play St. Paul's Basilica

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Priests, the singing clergymen from Northern Ireland, will return to Toronto for a concert at St. Paul’s Basilica Dec. 4.

They’ll be here in support of their second CD, Harmony, which will be released Nov. 23. The event will assist the St. Paul’s Christmas Family program, feeding local families in need over the Christmas season.

The Priests used music during the Irish Troubles as a unifying force

{mosimage}TORONTO - When Fr. Eugene O’Hagen was a student at St. MacNissi’s College in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, one of his school friends used to dress up in an IRA uniform for parties and sing The Men Behind the Wire.

“It was his party piece,” O’Hagen explained on a recent visit to Toronto to promote The Priests’ latest CD, Harmony. The song begins:

Oberammergau carries a passion for the greatest story ever told

{mosimage}It’s a testament to human tenacity and faith that the people of a tiny Bavarian village, keeping a promise made four centuries ago, will again hold performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play next year.

Following the deaths of 80 townspeople in 1633 from a plague that swept Europe during the Thirty Years War, the people of Oberammergau promised to perform a play depicting the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ every 10 years if they could be spared further deaths. Miraculously, the epidemic ended and the following year the first presentation took place. Since then, with only a few exceptions when world events intervened, the people of Oberammergau have kept their pledge.

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.