OTTAWA - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is urging the federal government to make families, compassion and charities priorities in its upcoming 2012 budget.

Though the national association for Evangelical Christians does not usually engage in pre-budget consultations, it stressed that “a budget is fundamentally a moral document.” In a budget, political leaders “decide what is ‘right and wrong’ for public expenditure, and as such biblical principles are relevant to the budgeting process.”

The budget should shore up the key building blocks of Canada, it said.

MPs vote unanimously to fulfill Shannen’s dream


OTTAWA - Shannen Koostachin had a dream for “safe and comfy” culturally sensitive schools for First Nations children like herself.

On Feb. 27, a vote in the House of Commons brought that dream closer to reality.

The House of Commons voted unanimously to “adopt Shannen’s Dream” by declaring First Nations children’s “equal right to high-quality, culturally relevant education” and to provide the necessary policy changes, consultation and funding support to make a First Nations’ education system “at a minimum” equal in quality to provincial systems.

Parents fight to save Kingston school


After educating Catholic youth for 60 years in the Strathcona Park community in Kingston, Ont., the doors to St. Paul Catholic Elementary School, among others, may permanently close following the local school board’s accommodation review process.

But there is a voice to St. Paul which is not letting the school be put to rest quietly. Shortly after word filtered out in 2011 that St. Paul could be among the schools targetted for closure by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, Sarah Mignault and several other concerned community members began the Save St. Paul Action Committee.

Hamilton fundraiser a success


About 900 guests filled all four halls inside Hamilton’s Carmen’s Banquet Centre Feb. 25 to sip cocktails, enjoy a four-course meal and bust a move at the Bishop’s Charities Dinner Dance.

The annual event with Bishop Douglas Crosby helps raise money for a number of charities.

Organized by the Knights of Columbus’ Fred Miscio, with help from fellow members, this year marked the 27th anniversary of the annual event which Miscio coined successful as always.

London diocese severs ties with Assumption fundraising company


WINDSOR, Ont. - The diocese of London has fired the company charged with raising funds for an extensive restoration and expansion of Windsor’s oldest and most historic church, Our Lady of Assumption.

In a statement posted on the diocese’s web site Feb. 22, the diocese and Assumption Church stated they were “not satisfied with the results achieved so far and have decided to end our relationship with” Philanthropic Management Consultants Inc. (PMC) to manage a $9.8-million campaign to pay for the restoration.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission seeks more government co-operation


Churches need to define how they're going to help repair the damage residential schools did to aboriginal culture in Canada and the federal government must cough up the millions of documents that future historians will need to tell the story of Canada's effort to assimilate First Nations' people, says the interim report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The report marks the halfway point of the five-year mandate of the commission. It warns that government reluctance to provide full and meaningful access to Library and Archives Canada records threatens the mandate of the commission. The TRC intends to go to court to force greater government co-operation.

Windsor abuse victims launch suit against abuser, diocese, Basilians


WINDSOR, Ont. - Four former Windsor students of Fr. William ”Hod” Hodgson Marshall are suing the priest, the Congregation of St. Basil and the diocese of London for claims arising from sexual abuse for which the now 89-year-old priest has been convicted.

Marshall was sentenced last June to two years in jail after pleading guilty to 17 counts of indecent assault between 1962 and 1985 for cases that arose in Windsor, Toronto and Sudbury. Marshall was a teacher, coach and principal at schools in those cities.

Multi-party support for anti-suicide bill


OTTAWA - A bill to create a national suicide-prevention strategy received overwhelming multi-party support Feb. 15, sailing through a second reading vote 285-3 in the House of Commons.

Bill C-300: An Act Respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, now goes to committee for further study.

A national suicide prevention strategy was among the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care that the bill’s sponsor, Conservative MP Harold Albrecht, chaired with NDP MP Joe Comartin.

Investigation targets Antigonish priest Fr. Paul Abbass


ANTIGONISH, N.S. - An Antigonish, N.S., priest who served as spokesman for the diocese in the wake of child pornography charges against then Bishop Raymond Lahey is under investigation by the addictions treatment centre where he has been executive director for the last 17 years.

Fr. Paul Abbass has stepped down from his duties at Talbot House just outside Sydney, N.S., and suspended his work as a parish priest and as episcopal vicar and director of pastoral services for the diocese of Antigonish.

KAIROS chooses new leader


TORONTO - As she takes over as executive director of KAIROS, Jennifer Henry’s priority is keeping the ecumenical social justice organization close to its roots in Canada’s churches.

“My commitment is to preserve the ecumenical character of this organization and I think that’s also the commitment of people around the board table,” Henry told The Catholic Register.

Fr. Andrew Britz, editor of The Prairie Messenger, dies aged 71


SASKATOON - Fr. Andrew Britz, OSB, longtime editor of The Prairie Messenger, died Feb. 14 at the age of 71 years.

The Benedictine monk and priest, who edited The Prairie Messenger from 1983 to 2004, was known for his strong editorial voice in the Catholic weekly newspaper published by St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Sask.