{mosimage}TORONTO - The people who started Ontario’s first free hospitals, ran the orphanages and founded schools that were once a ticket out of poverty are appealing to the government and people of Ontario to take up their fight and get serious about poverty reduction.

Thirty Ontario religious orders, representing hundreds of Sisters, Fathers and Friars, are publishing an open letter to the government and people of Ontario. The letter urges them to set hard targets for poverty reduction and enshrine them in law.

Faith groups backbone of Out of the Cold

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Eighteen Toronto churches and synagogues are now open for meals and temporary shelter as part of the annual Out of the Cold program.

At St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on McCaul Street in downtown Toronto, Fr. Jon Hansen said there were 180 guests for dinner and 70 overnight guests, primarily men, on its first day, Nov. 23. The Out of the Cold program at the parish runs on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. until April 5.

Refugee office launches Jan. 1

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{mosimage}TORONTO - In response to increasing numbers of refugees seeking a home and to centralize the efforts of agencies working to help them, the archdiocese of Toronto will launch the Office for Refugees Jan. 1.

This new pastoral ministry office will be located at Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS), an agency funded by Catholic Charities. CCS has more than 50 years of experience serving immigrants and refugees belonging to a diverse range of religious and cultural backgrounds.

WYD a highlight of Fantino's career

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Ontario’s top policeman has seen a lot in his time, but his most memorable moment was being involved behind the scenes with World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.

Julian Fantino, commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, regaled an audience of Catholic businesspeople Dec. 2 at St. Paul’s Basilica with stories about working on security matters relating to the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canada during that hot week in July when the pope was joined by hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world to pray and celebrate their faith together.

Jesus is the reason for the season

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Don’t forget what Christmas is really about: the birth of Jesus.

That’s the message a Polish Catholic group in Mississauga hopes will resonate during the holidays.

Charities expect an uncertain year

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{mosimage}TORONTO - For charities that rely on big donors, the stock market crash has made uncertainty the first principle of budgeting as they face a new year.

“Obviously Covenant House and every other charity are looking at their plans and how to approach this kind of time,” said Covenant House spokesperson Rose Cino. “Everyone is in the same boat. Would that we all had a crystal ball.”

'Beacon on the Beach' undergoing centennial renewal

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{mosimage}TORONTO - As St. John’s Catholic church in the Beaches celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is also rediscovering its youth.

Where the parish’s Sunday morning catechesis used to see 10-15 children, lifelong parishioner Deacon Gerry Godsoe said there are now more than 45. But as it moves forward in its reinvigorated state, the parish’s dynamic history is not forgotten.

Parliament should repeal hate crimes section in act

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OTTAWA - An independent consultant has recommended Parliament repeal the hate crimes section of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

“The use of censorship should be confined to a narrow category of extreme expression — that which threatens or justifies violence against the members of an identifiable group, even if the violence that is supported or threatened is not imminent,” wrote University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon in a $50,000 report the Canadian Human Rights Commission commissioned five months ago.

Child poverty strategy demanded of government

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - A coalition of anti-poverty groups joined MPs from the opposition parties Nov. 21 in demanding a comprehensive national child poverty strategy.

At a Parliament Hill news conference, Campaign 2000 released its annual report card, showing 760,000 Canadian children — one out of nine — live below the poverty line. The report card coincided with ongoing debate on the Speech from the Throne where the minority Conservative government laid out its agenda for the 40th Parliament.

Archdiocese aids abuse victims

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Male survivors of sexual abuse will be able to receive counselling from the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness (CCAA) thanks in part to the archdiocese of Toronto.

The archdiocese donated $30,000 to the CCAA, based in Newmarket, for its Help and Hope Project which focuses on helping men who were sexually victimized in their childhood.

Laity all have same goal

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{mosimage}TORONTO - In the opening credits of The Simpsons — where Lisa goes off with her saxophone, playing a tune of her own — is not what Catholic lay movements should model in their attempts to effect change, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins told nearly 200 people attending the archdiocese’s annual Catholic Symposium for the Laity.

“That’s the very world we’re fighting against — where ‘I have my little tune to play and so forget about you,’ ” he said.