{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Catholic Health Association of Canada (CHAC) is strengthening its team to address looming ethical and policy challenges.

The CHAC has appointed medical ethics educator Sr. Nuala Kenny as an ethics and policy advisor for 2009.

Economic stress taking toll on mental health

{mosimage}TORONTO  - The country's economic woes are causing more Canadians to seek counselling in recent months, says the Canadian Mental Health Association .

Catholic Family Services of Toronto — one of several agencies across the country at the frontlines in helping people cope with individual or family breakdowns during the economic crisis — has seen the number of people seeking counselling increase, especially as people are faced with holiday and post-holiday stress.

Helping women move out of shelters

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been three years since Lynne Fisher moved out of a shelter and into her own apartment.

The 49-year-old marital abuse survivor was on the brink of homelessness and credits the Independent Living Account program for helping her regain her independence.

The Social and Enterprise Development Innovations , or SEDI, started the $146,000 financial literacy program in 2005. It currently teaches shelter residents how to save money, pay bills and prepare to move out on their own. The program also offers a matched saving incentive of $3 for every $1 deposited into a savings account with TD Bank Financial Group. TD and the National Club of Toronto are donating the matched funds for the 61 residents in the program, each of whom can save a maximum of $400 and have those savings matched up to $1,200.

Spiritan seeks aid for Malawi seminary

{mosimage}TORONTO - Missionary work seldom evokes the thought of spiritual direction at a seminary, yet that is exactly what Fr. Locky Flanagan is preparing to do in Malawi in the new year.

The Spiritan priest from Ireland has served two stints as a missionary in the southern African country, both in the early 1980s and then again in 2000 — a total of 10 years. When he wasn’t serving in Malawi, Flanagan was based here in Toronto. But his recent decision to spend at least the next six months again in Malawi to spiritually guide the seminarians has also extended to a desire to help out financially.

An angel still looks over them

{mosimage}TORONTO - He may not be the Christmas angel but St. Michael has spent many Christmases with patients’ loved ones during the holidays at St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto.

The full-sized marble statue of the angel has been sitting in the hospital’s Victoria Street entrance since 1997. Before that it quietly guarded the older Bond Street entrance after its rescue from a second-hand store on Queen Street some time in the late 1890s by members of the hospital’s founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph.

CCCB Christmas message: Be aware of the shepherds in our midst

{mosimage}Material, economic poverty is certainly not a blessing. Yet it is often those who are poor economically who are more trusting in God, more generous in sharing with others and more hopeful in the future. Although material riches are meant to help us, so often they burden us with false hopes, turning our eyes away from the needs of others and making us less confident in the power and graciousness of God. Even worse, material riches can blind us from seeing how the worst forms of poverty are not lack of wealth or possessions, but lack of dignity, acceptance and love.

Nuns inducted into Order of Canada

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Two nuns, the founder of the Reform Party and the first Reform Party MP were inducted into the Order of Canada at a Rideau Hall ceremony Dec. 12.

They chose to receive Canada’s highest civilian honour, despite the controversy over abortionist Henry Morgentaler’s appointment last July 1 that has led about a dozen Canadians, including Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte , to return their awards. Earlier this month  the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate — Assumption Province returned the Order of Canada honouring two of its deceased members.

Report calls for increase in welfare rates

{mosimage}TORONTO  - One way to stimulate the economy, according to some poverty advocacy groups, would be to increase welfare rates.

Clarence Lochhead, executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family , said as politicians and economists consider ways of dealing with the economic crisis, they should take a look at increasing social assistance payments.

Rwandan genocide survivor's speaking tour threatened

{mosimage}TORONTO - A Rwandan genocide survivor who has been denied entry into Canada is launching a final appeal so that she will be able to speak about reconciliation at aboriginal reserves in Manitoba and Ontario.

Having exhausted all of her options for a visitor's visa, Patricie Mukundiyukuri, 24, has now applied for a minister's permit, also known as a temporary resident permit.

Marian shrine attracts devoted following

{mosimage}TORONTO - Some call it a place of miracles. For Ukrainian Catholic priest Fr. Basil Cembalista, OSBM, the Marian Monument of Gratitude is also a place of prayer and thanksgiving.

Little known outside its circle of devoted visitors, the Marian shrine which Cembalista built has steadily drawn crowds and interest from many Roman Catholic groups.

Peaceful unity in captive's book

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been three years since Jim Loney narrowly escaped from Baghdad with his life. He marked the occasion with a book launch Nov. 26 which gathered dozens of people who had prayed and worked for his release.

Kidnappers held Loney and three other members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams captive four months, until an international military operation sprang them March 23, 2006. By then one of the four captives, American Tom Fox, had been killed by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, a previously unknown group.