An initiative that began at a London, Ont., high school saw one Hail Mary prayed for each Canadian soldier who has died in service since the First World War. 

Published in Canada

The solution to local poverty could be online. London, Ont.’s King’s University College has joined the the London Poverty Research Centre in opening a virtual hub to address and ultimately end poverty in the city.

Published in Canada

The Diocese of Hamilton, Ont., has gifted St. Peter’s Seminary with its largest donation to date.

Published in Canada

LONDON, ONT. - The Michaelite House Retreat Centre is run by the Michaelite Fathers, a religious order with origins in Poland and now spreading its message of Mi-cha-el, that translates to “Who is like God” or “God above all,” around the globe.

Concerns that the establishment of a prayer room, requested by Muslim students, at a London, Ont., Catholic high school will water down the school’s Catholic faith are just plain wrong, says the school board’s education director.

“First of all it’s a prayer room, it’s not named after a particular faith,” said Wilma de Rond, director of education for the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB). “When a request comes from another faith there is no request for us to provide any sort of accommodation for them that in some way impacts our faith.”

Although de Rond dismisses the concern, it has been circulating in the media since news about the second floor prayer room at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School broke earlier this month.

Earlier this year about 25 students at the southwestern Ontario school, with a student body of about 1,400, submitted a request to the principal for a room for Islamic prayer during lunch period on Fridays. This is the first religious accommodation request of its kind for the board, said de Rond.

The Ministry of Education’s Developing and Implementing Equity and Inclusive Education Policies in Ontario Schools requires all publicly funded schools in the province to provide religious accommodations when requested by students or their parents, provided that doing so does not cause excessive grievance to the school. As long as it does not place burdensome costs on the school, interrupt instructional time or directly conflict with existing policies/practices, the school is obliged to do so, as is the case in London.

“We are trying to work  in a way that is respectful for our own faith, our Catholic faith, but also respectful of the fact that these young people have made a request that they want to be able to follow their faith,” said de Rond.

The goal, according to de Rond, is to outfit the room in a way that will satisfy the requirements for the Muslim students while maintaining an atmosphere where other students can use the room. Although no other groups have requested use of the room, it will be available outside the time allocated to the Muslim group.

De Rond sees this as nothing more than a learning experience. She did admit, though, that not everyone views this matter through that lens.
“Unfortunately there have been some concerns expressed in terms of racial comments which again is most unfortunate and is not in keeping with who we are as Catholic in terms of beliefs of our call to love one another,” she said. “There has also been expressions of very positive affirmation of this decision as well.”

The prayer room at Mother Teresa was expected to be completed by the end of September, although de Rond stressed there were still details to be worked out.

“It’s interesting for us to learn about a particular faith so it’s been a good thing for us to be able to have these conversations with the students and their parents and so we are proceeding forward in terms of our understanding of what will occur, how they pray, what they pray for (and) what the words of the prayers will be,” she said. “It’s increasing our own understanding, which is a good thing.”

Other Catholic boards are sure to receive similar requests, and are also seeing this as an opportunity. 

“It’s not an imposition on us at all,” said Michael Way Skinner, co-ordinater of religion, family life and equity at the York Catholic District School Board. “It is an expression of who we are as Catholics. When we as a Catholic community accept that call to be welcoming to people of other faiths we are actually putting into practice what we are trying to teach the kids in the classroom and it’s by what we do, it’s by our fruits that they’ll judge us, not by what we say to them and what we try to teach to them off chalkboards or smartboards.”

Although he supports the idea, Way Skinner did admit his board might not be able to fulfill similar requests. It’s not that the board is unwilling, rather, most York Region schools are already pushing capacity and allocating an entire room for a weekly prayer service would cause excessive grievance.

“It might be a space like in the library or somewhere like that that is a quiet space for the students to gather to pray if they wanted to,” said Way Skinner.

Published in Canada

WINDSOR, ONT. - The diocese of London will conduct a financial audit of the work of a private company that spearheaded a 10-year national fundraising campaign to renovate this city’s historic Our Lady of Assumption Church.

The church dates from 1847 and belongs to the oldest parish in Canada west of Montreal. But severe deterioration required extensive repairs to various structural parts of the church including the roof, walls and electrical system.

Published in Canada

WASHINGTON - More than three dozen U.S. and British faith-based investment firms have banded together to get the Summer Olympics' major sponsors and tourist hotels to sign a pledge saying they will work to stop human trafficking around the Olympic Games.

So far, the campaign has had some success.

Published in Features

LONDON - Visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games might be surprised to discover the extent to which London has been marked by the Catholic faith over the centuries.

Riding the trains of the London Underground they notice stations with names such as Temple, Blackfriars, Charing Cross and Covent Garden. Above ground, the traces of Catholicism are yet more noticeable: Whitefriars, Greyfriars, Ave Maria Lane and Paternoster Square all denote a rich Catholic heritage that precedes the Reformation.

Published in Features

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.

Published in Canada

The London District Catholic School Board will be holding an input session Feb. 29 allowing community members a voice on the values, vision and mission of the Catholic education system.

“We thought the best way to see if we are on track was to go back to our various constituencies and let them tell us how they think we are doing,” said Philip Squire, chair of the London Catholic board. “The challenge will be to talk to people about expectation versus what reality is.”

Published in Education

MANCHESTER, England - British bishops plan to use the 2012 London Olympic Games to renew interest in the Catholic faith, with initiatives ranging from fighting human trafficking and homelessness to promoting youth ministry and ecumenical dialogue.

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is also preparing resources for liturgies and holy hours and will post them on the Internet before the July 27-Aug. 12 games.

Published in International
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