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.

Pro-life Sisters to open new centre

Sisters of LifeTORONTO - After nearly three years of getting to know Toronto, the Sisters of Life will celebrate their newly opened Sisters of Life Centre with a special Mass and social gathering on June 12.

Visitors to the celebration will get to tour the new centre, formerly the rectory of St. Catherine of Siena parish. Renovations began last fall and the centre contains two parlours on the first floor for meeting with visitors, a kitchen and dining room, and on the second floor a chapel and six offices equipped with phones and computers for the Sisters to connect pregnant women in need with volunteers and important services.

Victims of abuse from years gone by caught in a grey zone

child abuse survivorIn the criminal justice system there are more grey areas than black and white, particularly when it comes to 20- and 30-year-old sex crimes.

When an adult tells church officials that as a child he or she was abused in the church, the internal process these days is pretty clear. But what about the police?

When Fr. George Smith was accused this May of inappropriately touching a young person while working in Deer Lake, Nfld., between 1986 and 1991 he was immediately suspended from his duties as a parish priest in Prince Edward Island. An internal investigation was launched in the diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador. Police, however, were left out of the picture.

Teen pregnancies down by a third, study says

teen motherTORONTO - Increased use of birth control and improved sex education in schools may be keys to a 10-year decline in Canada’s teen birth and abortion rate, according to a new study by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada.

Canada’s teen birth and abortion rate fell by 36.9 per cent from 1996 to 2006, said the study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. The study used Statistics Canada figures. The United States saw a drop of 25 per cent compared to 4.75 for England and Wales and a 19.1-per-cent jump for Sweden, according to the study.