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Vancouver – As billions of people around the world prepared to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 5, a pastor in Surrey, B.C., was also taking the opportunity to celebrate another significant milestone for the local Chinese community.

Published in Canada

TORONTO - Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Vatican’s Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will be the keynote speaker at a Jubilee Year of Mercy conference in Toronto on New Year’s weekend.

Published in Canada

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis asked Catholics worldwide to show solidarity through their prayers for Catholics in China and for persecuted Christians over the Pentecost weekend.

The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is observed each year on the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, May 24, which this year falls on Pentecost.

Published in International

MARKHAM, ONT. - Fr. Francis Chong admits he was nervous about asking his parishioners for $490,000. Today he is delighted at how his prayers were answered to the tune of $1.5 million — and counting.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - Once a Liberal bastion thanks to immigrants, ethnic voters in Toronto have given Conservatives the majority they sought.

"The Conservative ethnic ground game paid off in the end," said Jonathan Luk, the graduating president of the University of Toronto Chinese Catholic Community.

Chinese voters in both the 416 and 905 regions responded to values the Conservative Party championed, Luk said. The party took 30 of 44 Greater Toronto Area seats, a key component in gaining a majority government after Stephen Harper presided over two consecutive minority governments.

"When we talk about basic issues — the safety of our society, being tough on crime, respect for tradition and respect for hard work — these are values that Chinese people value," Luk said. "I also see Catholic voters are no different when it comes to those things."

For Tamils, who found themselves featured in an early Conservative attack ad, the community is hoping the new NDP official opposition and the first-ever Tamil Member of Parliament can hold the Conservatives to account for its immigration policies, said Jessica Devi Chandrashekar.

"Those who came out and voted were people who have bared the brunt of the recession and have been unable to reunite with their families because of the Conservative immigration policies," said Chandrashekar. "In Scarborough-Rouge River, a riding comprised mostly of the ethnic vote, (voters) made history in electing Rathika Sitsaiebasan for the NDP. Rathika is the first Sri Lankan Tamil MP elected outside of Sri Lanka. This has enormous significance for Tamil Canadians."

Chandrashekar is one of a new generation of voters, some of whom responded in this election in ways never seen before. Vote mobs organized on Twitter and Facebook swept university campuses, demanding young people seize the power of the ballot.

"I am 27 years old and born in Canada. This was my first time voting," said Chandrashekar. "I am looking forward to becoming more involved in the political process in Canada and the continued changes that the election in 2015 will bring."

The peace vote in Toronto was not overjoyed with the Conservative majority.

"A Conservative majority would be a bad thing for the cause of peace," wrote Deacon Steve Barringer of Pax Christi Toronto in an e-mail as results came in on election night. "They have a poor record of listening to interest groups of any kind."

Pax Christi plans to ramp up its protests in response to Conservative military and foreign policy.

"We will be looking at more aggressive programs, up to and including demonstrations and even civil disobedience against what we believe may be immoral policies," Barringer said.

Barringer puts his hope in a strong opposition from the New Democrats.

"We believe that Mr. Layton will listen," he said.

Catholic eco-theologian and University of Toronto religious studies professor Stephen Bede Sharper is also putting his hope in the NDP opposition, bolstered by the first-ever Green Party seat in Parliament.

"With the NDP's emergence, we now have a solid shot at a party that constitutes a real opposition to the Harper government, with the issues of social justice, workers' rights and the widening gap between rich and poor constituting central, rather than ancillary, political concerns," Sharper wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register.

Published in Canada

TORONTO - In his journey toward the priesthood, Deacon Eric Mah, a lawyer by training, has had to explain to some of his colleagues why becoming a priest is a “rational” decision in a world where making more money and climbing the corporate ladder are prized pursuits.

“You know in your heart that you’re deeply in love with Christ. But to non-Catholics, they see that you’re giving up your life,” the 33-year-old former insurance lawyer told The Catholic Register at a coffee shop near St. Michael’s Cathedral Nov. 5 where he picked up his vestments for his ordination to the diaconate scheduled for the next day.

Published in Faith

HONG KONG - A year after Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to mainland Chinese Catholics, and on the eve of Beijing hosting the Olympic Games, Chinese church leaders said some positive developments have resulted but more work needs to be done to achieve the letter’s objectives.

Published in International
TORONTO - Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church just got a $1-million facelift. In just under one year art restorer Carlos Nunes and his team has restored the downtown Toronto parish to look as it did in 1908, except for a few new additions reflecting the culture of its Chinese congregation.    
Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA