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.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is looking for a new school building at Dante Alighieri Academy as opposed to the addition the province wants to fund to alleviate overcrowding at the Toronto high school.

The board will be making a business case to the Ontario Ministry of Education this month for additional funding for a new building for students at the current site near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West, said local trustee Maria Rizzo.

The TCDSB is seeking at least $12 million on top of the $16.4 million allocated by the province for an addition so that Dante Alighieri will be able to accommodate all of its 1,300 students at a single site. For years, Rizzo said students have been dispersed over three locations, with the board renting space at Bathurst Heights Secondary School, Sir Sanford Fleming Academy and the Columbus Centre.

TORONTO - Alan Yoshioka chose God over his homosexual inclinations.

Before his conversion to the Catholic Church, Yoshioka says he lived an “out and proud gay lifestyle.” The 48-year-old Toronto-based freelance editor says after many years of rejecting the Church’s views on homosexuality, he experienced a spiritual conversion leading him to “interior freedom” when he embraced a life of chastity.

“(I am) so grateful for having discovered what it is like to live a life of chastity because there is an interior freedom that I never knew during all my years seeking liberation, seeking freedom in a worldly sense,” he told The Catholic Register.

His blog, “The Sheepcat,” is “a Catholic commentary by a former gay activist and his wife” where Yoshioka writes of his spiritual and personal conversion.

TORONTO - Toronto Catholic parishioners will be getting a sneak peek at the new Roman Missal in their parishes as early as this summer.

A number of parishes will be preparing their flocks for the third edition of the Roman Missal which is set to launch in Canada on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.  

Msgr. Brad Massman, pastor of St. Paul’s Basilica, said the parish’s musicians are already taking courses in preparation for the new Missal. And parishioners will receive more information this summer through parish announcements.

“We’re going to talk to people about the new Missal. It’s a good time to refresh all of us as far as the Mass is concerned,” said Massman.

According to the new Missal, the structure and order of the Mass will not change, but there will be new texts for prayers and new observances for saints in the Church calendar. Other additions include a Mass in thanksgiving for the gift of human life and an extended vigil for Pentecost.

TORONTO - Dating is the farthest thing from nine-year-old Aramayah Ocol’s mind. She prefers walking to the ice cream store with her dad. No one matches up to “Daddy.”

That’s just how Noel Ocol hopes it will be, that is until Aramayah is old enough to be courted by potential suitors.

Ocol, a 39-year-old parishioner at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Toronto, started a blog “Like Father, Like Daughters” for Our Kids Media, an online magazine for private schools.

“So how can I as a dad be proactive against a world where modern pop-culture causes girls to see themselves as a sexual objects and packages love as something from a vending machine where you put your money in, get what you want and throw the rest out?” he asks in his blog.

TORONTO - About 80 young Catholics attending this year’s Teopoli Summer Experience will be doing more than outdoor sports, making new friends and the usual summer camp fare.

They’ll also be introduced to Sr. Carmelina Tarantino of the Cross, the late Passionist Sister of St. Paul whose cause for sainthood is underway.

At the Teopoli camp in Gravenhurst, Ont., students will learn about Sr. Tarantino’s story “in a gentle way” and how she was able to endure her trials through her faith in God, says Luca Mirenzi, a Teopoli youth minister. Sr. Tarantino suffered unexplained illness but maintained a devout life of prayer through it all. For 24 years, she was bed-ridden at Toronto’s Riverdale Hospital (now known as Bridgepoint Health) and was visited by thousands of people seeking spiritual direction. She died in 1992 at the age of 55. The official inquiry into her cause for sainthood began two years ago.

Youth will also visit the memorial at the camp built in Sr. Tarantino’s honour, said Mirenzi.

TORONTO - Long-time pro-life activist Linda Gibbons called for Canadians to stand up against abortion and protest the curtailing of pro-lifers’ freedom of expression on abortion at the June 25 Toronto Pro-life Forum hosted by Campaign Life Coalition.

Gibbons said a “critical indignation” was needed to protest Canada’s abortion laws that are “promoting crimes against humanity.”

She also slammed the 1994 Ontario Supreme Court injunction barring pro-life activists from picketing, sidewalk counselling and interfering with access to abortion services or the “economic interests” of downtown Toronto clinics, a law that has led to her being arrested 20 times and imprisoned for 10 of the past 17 years.

“They are interfering with my freedom and I am offended by that,” she told the crowd of 185 participants at the Hotel Novotel who attended the two-day conference.

“In a free society, freedom of speech is a critical element. Why are we arrested for words when acts of murder are committed there?”

TORONTO - The Catholic Civil Rights League is standing by the human rights appeal of Damian Goddard, a sports anchor fired for his Catholic views on traditional marriage.

Goddard, a former host of Connected on Rogers Sportsnet, plans to file a human rights complaint against his former employer, Rogers Communication Inc.

“Mr. Goddard’s case typifies a theme we hear all too often in other, lower-profile cases of workplace discrimination against people who do not support same-sex marriage on religious grounds,” said Joanne McGarry, league executive director. “We hope Damian’s case will establish that freedom of religion and conscience, protected by the Civil Marriage Act of 2005, were meant to be given a robust interpretation.”

Goddard posted comments in early May on his Twitter account supporting Burlington, Ont., hockey agent Todd Reynolds for criticizing the New York Rangers' Sean Avery who appeared in a TV ad for Human Right's Campaign's "New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign" in support of same-sex marriage. (New York legalized same-sex marriage on June 24.)

TORONTO - Beloved mother, friend and “passionate advocate for Catholic education,” Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesperson Mary Jo Deighan died peacefully with her family by her side at Mississauga's Trillium Health Centre on June 17. Mrs. Deighan, 54, battled cancer on and off for the last two years.

Neil MacCarthy, spokesperson for the archdiocese of Toronto, said in an online post that he admired Mrs. Deighan's courage in battling cancer. This came at a challenging time for her and the board. As spokesperson, she fielded tough calls after the board was taken over by the province in 2008.

“During difficult days for the TCDSB, Mary Jo battled not only complex communication issues but her own personal health challenges yet always had time for colleagues and maintained a watching brief on issues as long as was possible,” wrote MacCarthy.

“I can still recall with embarrassment reaching her by cellphone on an 'urgent' matter only to learn that she was in the midst of a chemotherapy treatment, IV in arm and cheerfully reassuring me that it was no problem to call as her treatments went on for the better part of the day and it was an opportunity to catch up on phone calls and e-mails,” McCarthy recalled.

He said Mrs. Deighan approached her role as a ministry.

TORONTO - Toronto Catholic school trustee Frank D'Amico has apologized for "insensitive" remarks he made concerning a family of undocumented immigrants trying to enroll a child in a Catholic school, and assured people that the Toronto Catholic District School Board does not turn away students because of their parents' immigration status.

The embattled trustee made the remark in response to calls from immigrant advocacy groups to make him an "example" of a "zero-tolerance policy (against) racism'" at the TCDSB during a June 23 special board meeting.

"I sincerely regret the recent statements that have been reported in the media. They were insensitive and the comments reported do not reflect the Toronto Catholic District School Board policies on the admission of students," D'Amico told the audience in a prepared statement.

Social Planning Toronto raised its concerns at the meeting regarding an e-mail D'Amico wrote about undocumented students. Social Planning Toronto is a non-profit advocacy and research group of 150 community organizations and includes Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

Toronto Catholic student trustees are calling for the establishment of gay-straight alliances and “anti-homophobia education” in Catholic schools.

In a report tabled at the June 16 meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, student trustee Natalie Rizzo  recommended implementation of an “inclusion and belonging week” in September. Rizzo said anti-homophobia education “is not sex education” and recommended it for all religion classes in elementary and high school.

The report, prepared by the TCDSB Catholic Student Leadership Impact Team, said that anti-homophobia education is in keeping with a mandate in Catholic education “to promote equality, democracy, solidarity, for a just, peaceful and compassionate society.” It also said anti-homophobia education would create a safe learning environment for all students.

In May the TCDSB passed an equity and inclusive education policy that included provisions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and said all types of social or cultural discrimination was unacceptable in its schools. Amendments have been proposed to that policy that would place even greater emphasis on the right of Catholic schools to operate according to Catholic religious beliefs.