{mosimage}TORONTO - Saving the priesthood in the era of sex scandals, skepticism about church authority and a disengaged laity is going to depend on hope, according to the author of a new book about the spirituality of parish priests.

More famous for his writing on Catholic education, Msgr. Dennis Murphy has just launched A View From The Trenches: Ups And Downs Of Today’s Parish Priest — a 140-page examination of how priests are coping.

{mosimage}What’s a fast for? As Muslims make their way through the month of Ramadan and Jews get ready for Yom Kippur, that simple question can prompt many answers — depending on your point of view.

“People do stuff like not eat in a very scrupulous way in order to avoid having to go to the trouble of being good people,” said Dan Merkur, psychoanalyst and University of Toronto lecturer in comparative religious studies.

{mosimage}TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. - Some 80 pilgrims blended their voices in hymns to the Blessed Virgin as they wound their way through 100-km of Quebec’s countryside over the Labour Day weekend.

This was part of the Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage , which has taken place every Labour Day weekend for seven years. Pilgrims from Ontario and Quebec gathered in St-Joseph-de-Lanoraie to walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape, just outside Trois-Rivières. They came to gain graces, to do penance, to turn to God and to grow in faith.

St. Anne de Beaupre set to greet more than 1.5-million visitors

{mosimage}ST. ANNE DE BEAUPRE, Que. - Last year marked a resurgence of religious consciousness in Quebec City. Not only did the International Eucharistic Congress take place during that UNESCO World Heritage City’s celebration of its 400th anniversary. It was also the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Canada’s celebrated pilgrimage site, St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine.

This year the Shrine, which is only 35 kms. northeast of Quebec City, anticipates more than its usual 1.5 million pilgrims as a result of the 2008 celebrations. In particular during the annual novena  July 17-26 (celebrating the feast day of St. Anne) the faithful will flock to ask the intercession of the grandmother of Jesus and mother of the Blessed Virgin.

Catholic values help grocer's business survive

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s the grocery store equivalent of “the little engine that could,” with a Catholic twist.

Domenico Cozzi has been running his St. Clair Avenue West neighbourhood store with his wife, Rosa, for the past 43 years.

As other grocery stores supersize and the economy dips, the Cozzis’ corner store is a survivor. In this case, the classic “David vs. Goliath” story has a happy ending.

Fasting gives Jesuit spiritual strength

{mosimage}Toward the end of 44 days of fasting (see Jesuit's fast shows care for creation ) — living on nothing but juice and water throughout Lent — Jesuit Father John McCarthy found he didn't have the energy to exercise any more.

He also found the cross-country flight he had to take from Deer Lake, Nfld., to Vancouver during the last week of Lent a bit trying.

For the first few days following the end of Lent on Holy Thursday, McCarthy's stomach was feeling a touch delicate. And he did lose some weight. He estimates he's down about 15 kilos or 35 lbs.

The St. Andrew School of Evangelization from Mexico to expand into English Canada

{mosimage}The cross of St. Andrew, the Saltire, has been a symbol of the apostle’s martyrdom, a symbol of Roman imperial power, the flag of Scotland, the flag of Jamaica and the ensign of the Russian navy.

Now the ancient Christian standard is on its way to Canada from Mexico, where a group of Mexican lay evangelists have pointed out that it looks a lot like a multiplication sign.

The St. Andrew School of Evangelization based in Guadalajara, Mexico, wants to multiply the experience of Christ by forming new evangelists for the 21st century. The 25-year-old group has established national offices in Mexico, Colombia, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, the United States and Quebec. It is setting the stage for a push into English Canada with courses offered at Belleville’s St. Michael’s parish.

Spiritual tourism on rise despite tough times


{mosimage}"Christopher Cross has his bags packed for the Holy Land for the 50th time."

The 60-year-old retired Vietnam veteran has been organizing pilgrimages to Israel for close to three decades. For most of those years, he was running the tour on the side — what he considered a ministry of sharing the story of the Holy Land with other Catholics — while working full-time in his insurance business.

During this economic downturn, Cross says there is a surprising demand for his tours.

“We’ve seen a change in spirituality because of everything happening in the world,” he told The Register from New York.

Manresa retreats open prayer life to deeper faith

{mosimage}PICKERING, Ont. - You can’t keep your faith if you don’t deepen it. A paper-thin faith just gets thinner, until there’s nothing left to hold onto. So Alice Quigley has been diligently deepening her faith with annual retreats at Manresa Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering for the last 36 years.

When the 75-year-old Quigley made her first retreat in 1973 she was a woman just beginning to catch her breath at the tail end of more than 20 years of full-bore motherhood — four girls and a boy. Her oldest was just about to get married. She still had three teenagers and one pre-teen at home, but she was beginning to feel a little freedom coming on.

National Catholic Mission to air on Vision TV

{mosimage}TORONTO - A little prayer, a little penitence and a little preparation are all on their way to tens of thousands of Canadian living rooms.

The National Catholic Broadcasting Council will again present the annual National Catholic Mission on Vision TV April 6 and 7. Check local listings for times in your area.

Jesuit's fast shows care for creation

{mosimage}Eleven days into a 48-day fast, Jesuit Father John McCarthy was feeling pretty good.

“I haven’t noticed anything yet, other than a bit of weight loss,” McCarthy told The Catholic Register from Corner Brook, Nfld. “But in terms of energy level and everything else — well, it’s only 11 days.”

That is 11 days living on nothing but water and juice. McCarthy never liked V8 juice, but he’s acquiring a taste for the low-sodium variety. The most substantial thing he drinks is Sunkist strawberry and banana smoothies. He’s going through a fair amount of cranberry juice. He doesn’t have a blender.

Taizé spirituality brings calm in chaotic world

{mosimage}{mosimage}TORONTO - Finding peace amid the stress of a big city is not always easy. Cars honk and screech in rush-hour traffic, subways rumble beneath concrete sidewalks, cellphones ring with increasing regularity and the to-do list never ends.

“It’s a crazy and chaotic world,” said Lindsay Moore.

Moore, a youth minister at Toronto’s Holy Rosary parish, is the lead organizer of an event, however, which she believes will help people escape the chaos of urban life, if only for a few hours.

Music ministry all in the family

TORONTO - Between “rock concerts for God” and their work in integrating special needs kids with their peers, the members of the Blue Veil ministry have had a busy life the past two years, catching the attention of students and faculty at Ontario Catholic schools from London to Oshawa.

Blue Veil is a non-profit, non-denominational, Toronto-based charity — the creation of executive director Cris Smith and half of her eight children: Jeff, 28, Phill, 26, Donny, 24 and now David, 20.