Toronto Catholic District School BoardTORONTO - It's been more than two years of provincial supervision for Canada's largest Catholic school board.

But having Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees back in power is a reality that could be in place by November, after the next trustee elections, according to a recent letter by Ontario
Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky to provincially appointed board supervisor Richard Alway.

In the June 9 letter, Dombrowsky said the board would have to pass an audit of its 2009-2010 financial statements to confirm that it has balanced its budget.

“If those statements confirm that the board has retired its accumulated deficit, I will expeditiously undertake the process to return the board to full local control,” Dombrowsky wrote.

City honours WRP project

WRP Affordable housing projectTORONTO - Forty communities of Catholic nuns were among 21 “Affordable Housing Champions” honoured by the City of Toronto June 3.

The sisters were singled out for their WRP Neighbourhood Housing project, which created 38 units of subsidized housing in southeast Scarborough.

The project began as a millennium jubilee project in 1999.

L'Arche experience leads Jesuit to priesthood

Archbishop Prendergast, Teo Ugaban, John MeehanTORONTO - Living in the L’Arche community in France and meeting Jean Vanier led John Meehan to discover his call to become a priest.

“It changed the way I looked at community, the Church, my faith. I wouldn’t be a Jesuit now if it hadn’t been for L’Arche,” he told The Catholic Register.

Meehan, 42, was ordained June 5, along with Teo Ugaban, at Toronto’s Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, with Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., presiding at the Ordination Mass.

Born in Halifax, Meehan started thinking about the priesthood in his teens. But it was his experience in France that led him to consider the Jesuits. The call came during a European backpacking adventure in 1989 when he decided to volunteer at L’Arche and work with individuals with severe disabilities. His eight months living in community and living “very simply” was what attracted him to the vocation.

Irish cultural centre spreads its wings to Toronto

Sharon DiCeccoTORONTO - The St. Patrick Centre in Northern Ireland aims to not only instill peace at home, but also change the perception of Irish culture abroad, which it will now do in Canada through partners based in Toronto.

“It’s important because there’s a large connection between Northern Ireland and Canada, especially in Ontario,” said Dr. Tim Campbell, the centre’s director in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

Campbell said there are too many pre-conceived notions abroad about Northern Ireland and hopes the centre can help people to understand that Irish culture and St. Patrick’s legacy aren’t about shamrocks and green beer.

Sharon DiCecco, the centre’s Toronto chapter director, discovered the centre online while researching St. Patrick for one of her “Community in Concert” programs on Toronto’s HMWN Radio Maria last year. She started a “Young Friends of St. Patrick” club at Our Lady of Peace parish where  she meets monthly with a group of children ages four-10, teaching them about the different saints and engaging them in charity projects. She also connected 26 children in her parish who were preparing for their First Communion with first communicants in Downpatrick, where she visited in May.

Canadian Council of Churches rejects violence as protest

Canadian Council of ChurchesThe faith leaders meeting to discuss the G8 and G20 agendas are absolutely not going to bomb any banks and have rejected violent protest, said the Canadian Council of Churches in a news release.

On May 18 activists bombed a Royal Bank of Canada branch in Ottawa causing $500,000 damage. A group calling itself FFFC-Ottawa claimed responsibility.

“In light of the recent acts of violence in Ottawa and Toronto by those protesting the upcoming visit of the G8/G20 to Canada, the Canadian Council of Churches, a member of the 2010 InterFaith Partnership, reiterates its belief in the importance of dialogue and conversation and rejects violence as a medium of protest,” said the release sign by CCC general secretary and 2010 InterFaith Partnership chair Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton.

CCRL honours Quebec mother's fight for parental rights

Catholic Civil Rights LeagueTORONTO - When Susan Lavallée found her children would be forced to take Quebec’s controversial ethics and religious culture course, the 45-year-old felt she had to stand up for her religious rights as a Catholic parent.

It’s a fight the Drummondville mother of six is willing to take all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We’re hoping that they will take the case because it’s a very serious case and it’s a case of national interest,” said Lavallée.

Catholic Civil Rights League turns 25

Thomas LanganTORONTO - The same-sex marriage debate. A controversial sex-ed program aimed at elementary students. YouTube videos exposing the desecration of the Eucharist.

These are some of the issues the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) has dealt with in its mission to combat Catholic defamation in the media and public square over the past 25 years.

The league celebrated its silver anniversary at a June 10 gala in Toronto.

Established in 1985, the league is a national lay Catholic organization that works with media to ensure a fair hearing for Catholic positions on issues, lobbies the government and intervenes in court challenges supporting laws and policies that reflect Catholic understanding of the common good and human nature

Register wins 13 awards for excellence

Covers CollageAt a pair of recent galas to recognize excellence in religious media, staff of The Catholic Register took home an impressive 13 prizes, including five first-place awards, covering a wide array of writing and design categories.

Six of the awards came at a gala dinner of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada (CPA) held in New Orleans on June 4. Those awards followed seven honours taken by The Register at the Canadian Church Press (CCP) awards dinner in Toronto on May 28.

Burundi AIDS clinic honours slain Canadian Jesuit

Jesuit Father Martin RoyackersA Canadian Jesuit gunned down in 2001 standing by his rectory door in Jamaica will have his name attached to an AIDS clinic in Burundi.

“The decision to name this clinic after Martin Royackers has been motivated by two things,” said SYM director Jesuit Father Desire Yamuremye in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “The principal one is that the centre is at the service of the poor living with HIV and AIDS. I think Martin Royackers was murdered while he was at the service of poor people. The second reason is that part of the funds came from the Canadian Jesuit province.”

G20 Summit will affect, but not close, Toronto parishes

G20Toronto LogoTORONTO - Catholic parishes in the downtown core plan to keep their doors open during the upcoming G20 summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27.

“We do not anticipate having to cancel any spiritual services," said John McGrath, the archdiocese's chancellor of temporal affairs, in a June 1 letter to all Toronto parishes. "It is important for those parishes in areas impacted by the summit to communicate effectively with parishioners that may be inconvenienced ie. weddings, funerals, etc. held on the weekend of the summit. Reminding all involved to leave ample time for travel, anticipate delays, etc. is an important part of our ongoing communication.”

Sisters find honour in serving God, aiding priesthood

Sr. Mary Emmanuel Escobedo and Sr. Danielle PazTORONTO - Sr. Mary Emmanuel Escobedo and Sr. Danielle Paz carefully measure some polyester fabric for a priest’s cope and humeral veil, worn for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, in their brightly lit work room on a sunny end-of-May day.

A big order, 16 deacon vestments, has just been completed, but the Sisters’ work continues. On this day, they, along with Sr. Mary Immaculate Fournier, are back to work cutting, measuring and sewing priestly garments.

They are three of nine members of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master in Toronto whose apostolate is to serve priests. In Canada, the congregation also works out of Montreal, with about 15 members. The Sisters have houses in 31 countries around the world and their ministry involves service to the Eucharist, the priesthood and the liturgy.