Plans to put an outdoor, industrial recycling facility next door to the Martyrs' Shrine have shocked the Jesuits and galvanized a campaign to protect the environmentally sensitive Wye Marsh.

The Jesuits are asking Midland, Ont.'s town councillors to reverse their decision to rezone a site to allow Recycling Specialties Inc. to bring in truckloads of metal, paper, cardboard, wood, plastic and other material for sorting and processing.

Neither the Jesuits who run Martyrs' Shrine nor Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons — a provincial park built around a recreation of the first Christian settlement in Ontario and the graves of St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lallemant — were notified before the zoning change on April 26.  Previously zoned highway commercial, the land directly across from the front steps of the shrine is now zoned industrial. The direct neighbours of the site fell outside of the Ontario Planning Act's mandatory 120-metre notification zone and on the other side of the town's border with the Township of Tay.

Parliamentary committee calls for palliative care strategy


OTTAWA - An all-party Parliamentary committee has named effective palliative care, suicide prevention and elder abuse intervention as the three pillars of care for vulnerable Canadians.

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care report entitled “Not to be forgotten” stresses the need for pro-active measures to make end-of-life care available across Canada.

At a news conference releasing the report Nov. 17, committee co-chair and NDP MP Joe Comartin said only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians have any access to palliative care. 

North Bay parishioners sue bishop over closed churches


Former parishioners at two North Bay, Ont., churches have taken their bishop to court in Rome in an attempt to force him to reopen their already closed, deconsecrated and sold churches.

The groups of former parishioners from St. Rita's and Corpus Christi have submitted long-form appeals to the Congregation for the Clergy asking that the churches be reopened for Catholic worship of some kind. The groups argue that their churches were not closed for a valid and grave reason, as required under canon law.

Leader of the Corpus Christi appeal, Phillip Penna, believes they can persuade Rome to rule in their favour because their case is exactly parallel to that of three parishes in Springfield, Mass. In early November the Apostolic Signatura (Rome's highest court) ordered that the three Spingfield churches must remain open for worship.

Housing sale threatens St. Vincent de Paul's recovery programs


TORONTO - The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is concerned its VincenPaul Community Homes program will be lost if the proposed sale of 706 stand-alone housing units by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) board goes ahead.

St. Vincent de Paul leases 11 of the houses TCHC is proposing to sell, said Louise Coutu, executive director of the society’s central council in Toronto. These residences act as peer-monitored recovery programs. The society owns an additional three homes. Out of its 86 beds, 66 of those will be affected, Coutu said.

Motherhood, politics on Olympian Alexa Loo’s horizon


VANCOUVER - Alexa Loo’s snowboard is in safe storage, likely for the season, as the Olympic snowboarder pursues a new chapter in her life as a mother.

“She or he will be born right when the slopes open for the winter, so I might not go snowboarding this year,” said Loo with a laugh. 

The eight-time Canadian snowboarding champion and three-time World Cup medalist, who placed 12th at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, is not only embracing impending motherhood, she has also thrown her helmet in the ring for a seat on Richmond City Council.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide battle before Canada's courts


OTTAWA - Canadian pro-life forces are prepared for battle as the latest attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide makes it way through the courts.

On Nov. 14 in Vancouver, the B.C. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in Carter vs. Attorney General of Canada, that challenges Canada’s laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Carter case, brought by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on behalf of Lee Carter and four others, seeks to have assisted suicide treated as a medical instead of criminal issue.

Previous attempts to legalize euthanasia through Canada’s Parliament have failed.

Superior General offers encouragement in spreading Christian Brothers’ mission


TORONTO - Br. Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria came to Toronto in mid-November to encourage the work done by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools as they continue along their path, sharing their work with their lay brothers and sisters.

The goal of the Superior General’s visit was “to encourage the brothers (by) visiting different communities and apostolates to have a better reading of each institution and to encourage the Lasallian mission, especially at this moment of our history where we are sharing our charism with lay people,” he told The Catholic Register.

Miller urges Catholics to be alert in protecting their religious freedom


OTTAWA - Though Canada has traditionally had a healthy relationship between Church and state, Catholics need to remain alert to protect religious freedom, says Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

There is a secularist agenda that “basically wants to privatize religion and leave it restricted to the private sphere,” Miller said from Vancouver Nov. 10.

Pressures to compress religious freedom into private belief and private worship are not what is intended in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the universal human rights documents, he said.

Edmonton sister named a ‘Woman of Vision’


EDMONTON - Sr. Annata Brockman, while on a retreat many years ago with other sisters, was asked to explain her motivating force in daily living.

Brockman responded with a statement by which she has lived her whole life. She even keeps that response typed on a slip of paper.

“The entire universe is God’s family and I am part of that family,” she said. “My parents emphasized the fact that every man, woman and child is my brother and sister, and I should treat them as I would the Lord.”

ISARC to gauge poverty views, one MPP at a time


TORONTO - One MPP at a time, face-to-face, ISARC wants every one of Ontario’s 107 newly elected or re-elected legislators to answer a few questions.

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition is forming interfaith committees across the province, arming them with studies and statistics and sending them into MPP’s offices to get clear answers on poverty. They want to know about each MPP’s commitment to the 2009 Poverty Reduction Act, welfare rates, minimum wage, affordable housing and support for community agencies.

The riding level lobbying blitz will take the place of the usual fall meeting of religious leaders at Queen’s Park.

Quebec churches in line for restoration funding


QUEBEC CITY - Historic churches in Quebec will receive almost $14 million from the provincial government to help with nearly $20 million in restoration and repair work.

Funding from the Ministry of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women will flow to 83 projects through Quebec’s council of religious heritage — a joint government and Church body.

Just under $13 million will go to structural repairs to roofs, windows, brickwork, etc. Another $665,560 will be spent on organs, works of art and furniture.