{mosimage}TORONTO - The first Mass in St. Gregory’s history was a far cry from the lavish affair that marked the central Etobicoke parish’s 50th anniversary Sept. 13.

For two years before their church at the corner of Kipling Avenue and Rathburn Road was finished in 1959, parishioners trudged to the local public school and sat cramped in hard-backed chairs while Fr. Henry Clarkson stood in front of a makeshift altar on the auditorium stage.

Justin Trudeau to speak at Toronto Peace Garden anniversary

{mosimage}TORONTO - Twenty-five years after Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau turned the sod to launch the Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, his son Justin Trudeau will deliver a keynote address on Sept. 29 to more than 6,000 Catholic students as part of silver anniversary celebrations.

Trudeau’s presentation —  “Peace and Harmony in our Communities and the World” — will highlight a day dedicated to peace, race relations and multiculturalism that has been organized by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Archbishop Thomas Collins, Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor David Miller will also speak. A special address will be given by Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow.

Tamil refugee boy in immigration limbo

{mosimage}TORONTO - Since July 31 Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been unable to decide whether a 14-year-old refugee abandoned and alone in an African city of three million is an urgent case.

The Tamil boy is a refugee from Sri Lanka’s bitter ethnic war. He doesn’t know whether his family is alive in Sri Lanka’s monsoon-soaked camps or dead. Nobody has heard from them since April and a Red Cross search has so far turned up nothing. Alone in Accra, Ghana, the boy can’t speak English, is frequently bullied and depressed.

Catholic support for Liberals fading

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Could the Catholic vote play a key role in the next federal election?

It did in the 2000 election when it helped Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien win his third majority.

But Catholic support has plummeted by “a massive 24 per cent,” a study by McGill political scientists shows. Catholic voters, who have traditionally voted Liberal, contributed to the Conservative minority government victories in 2006 and 2008.

LifeSite accused of fuelling web war on Salt+Light


TORONTO - Salt+Light Television CEO Fr. Tom Rosica has reacted to daily threats against his life, reputation and ministry, blaming LifeSiteNews for stirring up “division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence.”

Since controversy erupted over Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral in Boston, e-mails and blog postings directed at Rosica have included: “Your grave is dug”; “We will bring down your network”; “We will force you to resign”; and  “We will get the Vatican to rescind your appointment.”

Brampton's St. Mary's a people's parish for 100 years

{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Whether it was rewarding altar servers with wrestling tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens, covering unpaid heating bills for a struggling family or offering a sympathetic ear to someone whose marriage was breaking down, parishioners at the historic St. Mary’s Church in Brampton, Ont., say it’s stories like these which highlight the spirit of friendship and stewardship between its pastors and the community for a century.

The parish will mark its 100th anniversary Sept. 19 with a Mass and reception. Pastor Fr. James Cherickal will be joined by nine other priests to concelebrate the anniversary Mass with Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins.

Freedomsite.org wins free speech case

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Catholics who fight for freedom of speech and of religion are applauding a tribunal decision that declared the Canadian Human Rights Act censorship provision unconstitutional.

On Sept. 2, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member Athanasios Hadjis concluded Section 13(1) and some other portions of the act are “inconsistent with s. 2(b) of the charter, which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” Section 13(1) says that material “likely to expose” various enumerated groups to hatred and contempt contravenes the act. There is no defense for truth or intent since the act merely looks at the effects on vulnerable minorities, even if there is no proof any damage has occurred.

Canadian Jesuit named expert for African Synod

{mosimage}A Canadian Jesuit based in Nairobi, Kenya, has been appointed one of about 30 experts who will assist bishops at Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican Oct. 4-25.

Fr. Michael Czerny founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network in 2002 as a way to help Jesuits in Africa work on the problem of AIDS. His appointment as “adiutor secretarii specialis” to the second Synod of Bishops on Africa will require him to step away from running AJAN at least temporarily.

Canadian Council of Churches wades into U.S. health care debate

{mosimage}The Canadian Council of Churches launched a letter into the shark tank of American debate over health care and saw some surprising ripples on the surface.

The Aug. 10 letter to the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals became the starting point for journalist David Waters' Aug. 29 "Under God" column in The Washington Post.

Sisters of St. Joseph welcome first new Sister in 12 years

{mosimage}TORONTO - It was the most unexpected place to find God’s love. But newly professed Sr. Nida Fe Chavez, CSJ, says her ministry at a women’s maximum security prison helped affirm her call to religious life.

“Some of them said they found God in prison, through the people who talked to them, listened to them and brought God’s word to them,” she told The Catholic Register.

Chavez, 49, was a novice at that time with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and had been volunteering at a prison in Framingham, Mass.

Toronto bids farewell to Charlottetown-bound Grecco

{mosimage}TORONTO - Auxiliary Bishop Richard Grecco said his final goodbyes to the archdiocese of Toronto at a  Sept. 1 Mass as he prepares to accept his new appointment as bishop of Charlottetown.

His fellow bishops, parishioners, more than a hundred priests and deacons from across the diocese and staff from archdiocesan offices packed St. Paul’s Basilica to hear his homily of thanksgiving for time spent in Toronto, which centred on St. Paul’s message in the reading about encouragement.