Sheila Dabu Nonato, The Catholic Register

Sheila Dabu Nonato, The Catholic Register

Sheila was a reporter for The Catholic Register from 2008-2011.

A graduate of the University of Toronto's international relations program (M.A.) and Carleton University's School of Journalism (M.J.),  she has worked at The Canadian Press, CBC Ottawa, The Toronto Star, The Jordan Times and IRIN Middle East.

Shane BoscoeBRAMPTON, Ont. - Eight-year-old Ofure Akhigbe stands alongside 18 of her classmates as “Oh Canada” plays over the loudspeaker to calypso-style beats at St. Josephine Bakhita Elementary School.

As the school celebrates Black History Month in February, it also commemorated St. Josephine Bakhita’s feast day on Feb. 8. The school is the first in North America to be named after the first Sudanese saint.

Bahkita was a former slave from Darfur who became a Canossian nun in Italy and lived there for 45 years. She was canonized in 2000.

On St. Josephine Bakhita’s feast day, the school celebrated with a liturgy and the nearby St. Josephine Bahkita parish loaned the saint’s relics to the school. Canossian sisters from the parish also visited the school and shared St. Josephine’s story to the students.

TORONTO - As the world's attention is focused on the unrest in Egypt, Canadians must not forget the political prisoners in Iran, say the supporters of two Toronto residents facing execution.

Saeed Malekpour and Hamid Ghassemi-Shall were convicted without a fair trial and deny the charges against them, according to their Canadian supporters. Malekpour faces execution at any moment, while Ghassemi-Shall's death sentence was commuted to a life sentence last year but is pending confirmation by Iran's Supreme Court.

Some 50 people braved a chilly winter evening for a candlelight vigil outside the University of Toronto's Massey College Feb. 9 to raise awareness of the men's plight. 

Peter Alexander PorTORONTO - A private Toronto art gallery has received thousands of e-mails protesting its controversial exhibit featuring a “bullet-ridden” Pope Benedict XVI.

Bezpala Brown Gallery president Darrell Brown said the gallery received about 8,000 e-mails in one hour from the American Catholic group America Needs Fatima which launched a web campaign against Peter Alexander Por’s exhibit “Persona Non Grata: The Veil of History,” running at the gallery Feb. 5-25.

Brown first promoted the exhibit with a provocative press release called “Pope shot, Obama crucified at the Bezpala Brown Gallery.”

“Pope Benedict XVI’s portrait is riddled with bullet holes, a less than subtle expression of the hurt and anger directed at a pontiff and an institution that has abandoned its flock, choosing to focus on dogma while its subjects suffer and, in many instances, die from its archaic policies,” the release read, referring to the clergy abuse scandal that has rocked the Church.
French schoolsTORONTO - Taking a cue from Pope Benedict XVI about spreading the Gospel through social media, the French Catholic school board serving the Greater Toronto Area is launching a Facebook and Twitter campaign to get the message out about the merits of a French Catholic school education.

Aside from the traditional TV, newspaper and radio ads, the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud is embracing social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Each of its eight high schools has developed a Facebook page and student-directed YouTube videos informing parents and potential students about their school.

“We wanted to reach them where they are,” said Réjean Sirois, director of education for the board.
Richard Alway, who was supervisor of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.TORONTO - After two-and-a-half years of provincial supervision, the Toronto Catholic District School Board has officially regained its local powers.

“All of us share a strong commitment to publicly funded Catholic education, and we collectively have a vision for the Toronto Catholic District School Board that focuses on student achievement, fiscal responsibility and public accountability,” said board chair Ann Andrachuk in a statement after the board officially took charge of its affairs again on Jan. 28.
Haim GutinToronto - Despite the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more than 77,000 Canadian pilgrims and three million people worldwide visited the Holy Land last year.

That is a single-year record, according to the Israeli government, and reflects the success of recent policies to attract more visitors to the birthplace of Christianity.

Increasing tourism is an investment in improving the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians, said Haim Gutin, Israel’s Consul and Commissioner for North and South America. Speaking at a Jan. 18 press conference, Gutin said pilgrims appear to have a heightened understanding that terrorism is a “global problem,” not just an issue for the Holy Land.

“(Terrorism) happens everywhere. It happened last week in Arizona,” he said, referring to the Jan. 8 attempted assassination of American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six people.

“We don’t ignore political issues, but that’s for politicians,” Gutin said.
Schoolboard gayThis revised article clarifies a Jan. 20 version

TORONTO — Facing media scrutiny and lobbying from gay rights' groups, Halton Catholic school trustees have passed a new equity policy that, while not explicitly banning gay-straight alliance clubs, is based on Catholic teaching, says the Halton Catholic board.

The new policy adopts a distinctly Catholic approach to equity within schools that is used in many boards in Ontario and was drafted by a consortium representing several of the boards.  

The Halton board voted 6-2 on Jan. 18 to scrap a two-month old equity policy, implemented by the previous board, that had banned gay-straight alliances, also known as GSAs. That decision sparked a campaign by gay activists who sought to overturn the ban.
Although the Halton board stopped short of explicitly banning GSAs, the Jan. 18 vote does not necessarily mean the board endorses the controversial clubs. The Catholic approach to equity adopted by the board provides for inclusive measures to deal with discrimination, bullying and harassment that are directed at all students, gay or otherwise.
AJAX, Ont.- A crisis response team is helping students at Ajax’s St. Francis de Sales Elementary School cope with the news that one of their teachers has been accused of trying to kill his wife while on a pre-Christmas Jamaican vacation.

Tracy Barrill, superintendent of education for the Durham Catholic District School Board, visited the school Jan. 3, the first day of classes for students returning from the Christmas break, along with the board’s crisis response team led by the board’s chief psychologist, Dr. Ian Brown.

“This is a type of situation that no one can anticipate. We certainly are shocked and saddened by what has occurred and are praying for them, praying for everybody who has been affected,” Barrill said.
Fr Content Fr RousseauTORONTO - Fr.  Sauveur Content remembers the day of Haiti’s devastating earthquake last January. One year later, he says an investment in education will help Haiti rebuild from the tragedy that destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, including a Catholic university in Jacmel serving the “poorest of the poor.”

“Even before the earthquake, the situation in Haiti was terrible. Now, after the earthquake, Haiti is on its knees,” the dean of the University of Notre Dame in Jacmel told The Register through an interpreter during a late December visit to Toronto.

“We realize that if there is something we need in Haiti, we need to focus on education, the education of the youth. They can provide the new generation of leaders in Haiti.”
AJAX, Ont.

A crisis response team helped students at Ajax's St. Francis de Sales Elementary School cope with the news that one of their teachers has been accused of trying to kill his wife while on a pre-Christmas Jamaican vacation.

Tracy Barill, superintendent of education for the Durham Catholic District School Board, visited the school Jan. 3, the first day of classes for students returning from the Christmas break, along with the board's crisis response team led by the board's chief psychologist, Dr. Ian Brown.