{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been 25 years since Pope John Paul II lit the eternal flame in Toronto’s Peace Garden, and every year the city’s Hiroshima Day Coalition magnifies that flame of hope and memory with an Aug. 6 commemoration of the first atom bomb used in war.

This year’s ceremony featured a Japanese lantern ceremony, which floated dozens of paper lanterns — each containing a single tea light lit from the eternal flame — across the water of the reflecting pool at Nathan Phillips Square.

Toronto couple's missionary experience cut short by Honduran coup

{mosimage}TORONTO - It was just after Sunday Mass when missionaries-in-training Maggie and Mark Banga learned about the military coup in Honduras.

Although it was an abrupt ending to their mission work, the Bangas say this experience has taught them invaluable lessons about missionary life.

The 30-year-old couple, parishioners at Toronto’s Newman Centre, had been volunteering with Mission Honduras International, a U.S.-based Catholic Franciscan charity in Comayagua, northwest of Honduras’ capital Tegucigalpa since April. The Bangas were teaching kids English and about computers at a local school. Maggie was also working with single mothers who were learning how to make and sell rosary bracelets The couple was scheduled to finish the placement in mid-July when the coup happened.

Department of Peace initiative launched

{mosimage}A private members’ bill to establish a Canadian Department of Peace will soon be before Parliament, perhaps as early as the fall.

British Columbia MP Bill Siksay jumped on board the six-year-old campaign advocating for a Department of Peace just a few years ago, and recently volunteered to write the legislation for the private members’ bill he hopes to table in September.

Development and Peace works on protocols for distribution of funds 

{mosimage}TORONTO - Getting individual bishops or bishops' conferences to sign off on more than $16 million worth of projects is complicated, but Canada's Catholic development agency is willing to get those signatures and reassure the bishops it's working with the church when it chooses partners.

"The good news is that we're dialoguing on this," said Michael Casey, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. "They've expressed their support for Development and Peace."

Newspaper apologizes for story that sparked Harper Communion controversy

{mosimage}OTTAWA  - A New Brunswick newspaper has apologized for a July 8 story that wrongly accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of pocketing Communion at a Catholic funeral.

The story also said a senior Roman Catholic priest had demanded the prime minister explain what happened to the Host.

Prayer walk connects faith with daily life

{mosimage}TORONTO - Qiuhua Chen had never seen a homelessness memorial before.

The 27-year-old came to Canada last October, having converted to Catholicism more than a year ago. She said there aren’t similar memorials in her hometown of Fujin City, northeast of Beijing, China.

Providence Healthcare newsletter helps seniors connect

{mosimage}TORONTO - At 82, Bernard Scanlan has a new job. Known as “roving editor” of Around the Houses, the Providence Healthcare resident newsletter, Scanlan can be seen roaming the hallways of the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence, on the lookout for a good story.

On this day Scanlan is all smiles, with black notebook and gold pen in hand, looking eager to get started on the next article.

“I love doing it,” said Scanlan. “I never turn down a good story.”

Encyclical a boost for Development and Peace

{mosimage}Caritas in Veritate represents something old and something new for Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace members, but it also represents a papal vote of confidence in their work and spirituality, volunteers with the social justice organization told The Catholic Register.

“Reading the encyclical made me more enthusiastic again about Development and Peace,” said Gwen Stang of Macklin, Sask., a member for 20 years.

Bishops encourage Catholics to engage in battle against euthanasia

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s bishops are urging Catholics to prepare for the upcoming battle against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the antithesis to what should be at the heart of human civilization — trust, respect, concern and solidarity, based on reverence for all human life,” Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop James Weisgerber wrote in a July 17 letter to fellow bishops across Canada.

New visa rules affect Mexican Canadian parishes

{mosimage}TORONTO - It was supposed to be a summer reunion for Rosa Flores and five of her friends from Mexico.

But the St. Anthony’s Church parishioner says Canada’s new visa rules mean her friends won’t be coming to visit her in Toronto this August.

On July 14, the Canadian government imposed new visa requirements for Mexican and Czech citizens to deal with a heavy caseload of refugee claims by visitors from the two countries. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said imposing these new rules is necessary to guard against fraudulent immigration claims.

Archdiocese of Toronto puts leash on Development and Peace funding

{mosimage}TORONTO - In response to controversy over the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace partners in Mexico, the archdiocese of Toronto is putting D&P on a funding leash and calling for a comprehensive review of the Catholic aid organization.

Archbishop Thomas Collins announced in a July 23 statement that the archdiocese will “set aside” $1.125 million this year from ShareLife to be available to D&P on a case-by-case basis solely for projects run by organizations that are endorsed by local bishops. That is the same amount as 2008, but last year’s funds were allocated directly to D&P’s general revenues to be dispersed as they saw fit.