Ruane Remy, The Catholic Register

Ruane Remy, The Catholic Register

Ruane is a former Youth Editor at The Catholic Register. She attended Ryerson University's Master of Journalism program and studied Professional Writing with a Biology minor at York University. Follow her on Twitter @RuaneRemy.

TORONTO - Theology should be at the heart of Catholic universities, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller told a Toronto audience Nov. 28.

In the face of an impending lawsuit, the student union at Langley, B.C.'s Kwantlen Polytechnic University has relented and will confer club status on a campus pro-life group.

TORONTO - It was five minutes before Mass, and I could feel my iPhone vibrating through my purse. I gave a quick look around St. Michael’s Cathedral before guiltily checking my text messages.

Updated 03/12/12

Toronto - Shattered plexiglass and tape is now what stands between the Nativity scene in front of Toronto's Old City Hall and the elements.

TORONTO - Toronto’s Arab Knights of Columbus are calling on Catholics to help support Christian students in Jerusalem today to ensure the future of Christianity in the Middle East for years to come.

From forests of walnut, oak and pine on their land near Dubuque, Iowa, often comes the wood that Trappist monks at the New Melleray Abbey hand carve into funeral caskets.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is reaching out to Ontario’s Catholic youth with the launch of the Year of the Young Vincentian.

The campaign begins Dec. 1 with the goal of encouraging those under age 35 to join the society and to start their own projects to help those in need.

“We’re getting older and if we don’t start attracting younger people, we’re not going to be able to continue what we do,” said Jim Paddon, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ontario Regional Council.

The society is a global organization dedicated to helping the less fortunate. It was founded by a 20- year-old French student, Frederic Ozanam, and a group of his friends who sought to be better Catholics by emulating Jesus and aiding the poor. According to Paddon, they had the dual mission of deepening their faith while helping people living in poverty.

“Next year, 2013 is very appropriate,” he said on the timing of the campaign. “It’ll mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederic Ozanam.”

Paddon also notes that 2013 is significant for other reasons. Some of the society’s younger members will attend World Youth Day in Brazil. And Paddon hopes Ozanam will be canonized, some 15 years since his beatification.

“Those factors certainly for me makes it the right time to... make contacts with areas and organizations like Catholic school boards, high schools, elementary schools,” Paddon said.

The Ontario council’s goal of developing and implementing a program that will educate students about the society is meant to attract youth.

“How do we attract them?” Paddon asks. “We provide them the opportunity to be part of a worldwide organization whose goal is to live the faith in service to Christ as we find Him in the poor.”

This includes focusing on local communities and addressing the root cause of poverty.

“Education we feel is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” Paddon said, adding the Ontario council is running an Ozanam Education Fund to provide students with $2,000-$3,000 towards tuition or other needs, and to stay in contact and work with the family in the long run.

Another program assists youth through a Registered Education Savings Plan project. With the Canada Learning Bond, the federal government will match up to a certain amount of the money parents place into an RESP for their child.

“So we’re starting the project down in the Burlington-Oakville area where we’re going to families we know from assistance that we’ve given them and encouraging them to open such an account,” said Paddon, so that the society will match (up to a certain amount) what the parents provide, and in turn the government will match those combined funds.

As for youth participation, the society is planning a video contest for school-age kids to talk about the society’s work or an SSVP-related topic like Ozanam. It will also host a Giant Sleep Out on May 24 to raise awareness of and funds to alleviate poverty.

TORONTO - Irish singing sensations The Priests will headline the Venite Adoremus 2012 Christmas Concert to celebrate 10 years of media ministry by Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation.

The Priests became global stars after their debut album in 2008 became the fastest selling classical debut of all time.

“As we enter our 10th year, I could think of no better way to celebrate this milestone than with a musical concert that features The Priests of Ireland,” said Fr. Tom Rosica, Salt + Light CEO.

“Several years ago, when we were asked at Salt + Light to promote (The Priests) in Canada, I gladly accepted and got to know the three men well. They are living examples of the New Evangelization and their message and music fit in very well with our mission at Salt and Light.”

According to Daniel Torchia, Salt + Light’s director of partnerships, “We’ve held two concerts with them (The Priests) at St. Paul’s Basilica in the past, which would be considered almost a warm up to this event.”

He describes these past performances as “smaller” and “more brief.” But the Dec. 6 concert at Toronto’s Koerner Hall “is really a full-fledged concert for classical music lovers, as well as the Catholic community.”

Rosanna Riverso and The Amabile Youth Singers, a group of about 40 girls ages 12 to 18 from London, Ont., will also be performing.

“It has been in incredible period of hard work, growth, evangelization, creativity and hope for the Church in Canada and far beyond,” Rosica said reflecting on Salt + Light’s first decade. “I would have never believed 10 years ago all that the Lord has been able to do through us this past decade.”

For tickets and information see

PICKERING, ONT. - The youth of Holy Redeemer parish believe Christ is what Christmas is about, and it showed at Pickering’s Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 10.

The parish’s youth group entered its Keeping Christ in Christmas float in the annual parade this year.

The 23-metre-long float carried about 50 volunteers and included three key scenes. The choir of volunteers and the CFC-Youth For Family and Life GTA Music Ministry band were the angels of heaven, singing praise through traditional Christmas songs and upbeat Christian music. A traditional creche with the baby Jesus made up the second scene. And the third, a fireside family scene — Christmas tree included — had a mother and father telling the true story of Christmas to their kids.

The float, which was created as a witness to the Year of Faith, was the idea of Caroline Dupuis, who pitched it to her 16-year-old daughter Emma, Emma’s friends and parishioners.

Emma helped her mother oversee the entire project.

“I think especially in our society, Christmas has lost its true meaning,” Emma said,adding Christ has been lost in the secularization of the season.

“Without Jesus, nothing else really matters,” said Emma. “He came and it’s time to celebrate Him.”

Spreading the Catholic faith, encouraging community involvement and being a witness to others were some of the reasons for creating the float.

When she suggested the float’s theme, “Some people thought, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re crazy,’ ” said Emma.

Holy Redeemer pastor Fr. Morosco Lett and others in the parish community weren’t among those, and were very supportive of the youth group’s effort. The parish donated about $750 while the trailer was donated by a parishioner.

“A lot of the big things are being donated to us by generous people. So that’s helped immensely or we wouldn’t have funds to put something like this together,” she said.

Another parishioner built baby Jesus’ stable free of charge, and a construction team of volunteers put the rest of the float together.

“They’re all big strong men who are getting up at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday to help put all of the pieces together and to nail down the stable and everything,” said Emma.

With volunteers of varying age, the youngest being age five, Emma hoped kids watching the parade would see the float and think that “kids like me and kids my age or even older get excited about this kind of stuff.”

In turn, Emma would like this to inspire more youth to be involved and to know that “It’s not about Santa Claus and the presents,” but about Jesus too.

TORONTO - In Mervi Junkkonen’s After Life: Four Stories of Torture, we are told the plight of four survivors seeking refuge in Finland but never finding complete peace of spirit.

Their story is one of 12 “inspiring and heartbreaking” films playing this month at the seventh Amnesty International Reel Awareness Human Rights Film Festival, running at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema Nov. 15-18.

“Each film was chosen because they focus on a specific Amnesty International concern or priority campaign,” said festival co-ordinator Elena Dumitru.

Amnesty International is a global movement to protect and promote human rights.

The festival kicks off with A Whisper to a Roar, a film shot over three years about democracy activists in five countries — Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

“It’s a positive film, it’s uplifting,” said Dumitru.

Festival organizers say they always try to begin with a film that is not well-known.

“It’s a film that looks at activists, at people who are doing the work our volunteers do every day,” she said. “So we hope it will be an inspiration to our own members and to the public to take action on human rights issues, get involved, do more.”

The festival’s two main goals are awareness and engagement. So at the Carlton Cinema there will also be an action centre where festival-goers can find out how to become involved with Amnesty International.

“We still find that people are surprised when they come and see a film and they find out about the specific human-rights violation,” said Dumitru. “Many times the reaction is ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know that this was happening.’ ”

But films like After Life demonstrate how it is possible for suffering to go unnoticed and ignored by many.

Loneliness, isolation, depression, anger and helplessness are all expressed in the steady voices of the men featured.

There is Kebi, who is fighting deportation; Serge, whose will to live hinges on seeing his three surviving children again; Musa, who spends less time at home because he fears being rough with his two kids; and Hector, the artist who found it difficult at first to paint anything beautiful.

“Problems are not like clothes that you can take off and wash,” says Musa.

Their faces are never fully visible, at times blurred, with the only exception being the elderly Hector who has had 40 years to settle in the country.

The film is intentionally often out of focus. It’s as if the lives the men are living now are mere dreams, as if they are really still imprisoned in their home countries, as if the world around them is in focus while they are not.

As the men speak about the real life nightmares they suffered and the memories that still haunt them at night, the moviegoer will see extreme close ups of eyes, lips and hands. These images make the men’s existence seem concrete and yet still keeps their identities anonymous. They each could be almost any immigrant walking the cold streets of Finland.

“This is an outstanding lineup of films that... show deeply compelling personal struggles against difficult odds,” said Dumitru in a press release.

Each man’s deep, contemplative thoughts and reflections, the real draw of After Life, can be seen on Nov. 18.

For more on the festival, see