Carolyn Girard, The Catholic Register

Carolyn Girard, The Catholic Register

{mosimage}WOODBRIDGE, Ont. - Vita Nova is one addictions rehabilitation centre that isn’t shy about its Catholic colours. On the staircase wall of the building’s main entrance hangs a large painting of a young woman, head in hands, with a statue of Mary in the background facing away.

Franca Carella, the centre’s founder, explains that the painting, the handiwork of a former client at the Woodbridge centre, expressed the artist’s struggle with faith while battling addiction — in her case, the belief that Mary had turned her back on her.
{mosimage}TORONTO - For many people suffering from addiction, the belief in a higher power, or the belief that such a higher power actually cares for them, is often a difficult concept to grasp, addictions counsellors say.

Feelings of shame and guilt because of the hurtful things they have done or said during their addiction can make it difficult for recovering addicts to forgive themselves. The concept of a Creator who loves them and wants to help them seems very unlikely.
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Notre Dame Cathedral parish in Ottawa may have 460 volunteers, young and old, but that doesn’t mean there is never a void to fill.

Alannah Lennon has been volunteering at the cathedral with her husband Stan for about 12 years now. As retirees, they find it’s easier to be involved in parish life, from attending daily Mass to helping out, because their time is more flexible.
{mosimage}TORONTO - With Christmas approaching, it’s important not to lose sight of the preparation that should come beforehand — and this doesn’t just mean picking out the right presents and decorations.

Fr. Vito Marziliano, pastor at All Saints parish in Toronto’s west end, has tried to make the Advent season really one of spiritual preparation for his parishioners by offering workshops to help them prepare their spiritual “inn” for Christ.
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary , commonly known as the Loretto Sisters, continues to serve the needy in a variety of ministries as the worldwide order celebrates its 400th anniversary this year.

While the order’s early years during the Protestant Reformation were rough at best, its introduction to Canada nearly 250 years later also met with some dramatic obstacles. Five sisters, sent to Toronto from Ireland in 1847 to teach Irish immigrants, landed in the midst of a deadly typhus outbreak which took the life of Toronto’s Bishop Michael Power just weeks after their arrival. Within the year, a few of the sisters had passed away themselves, unprepared for the harsh Canadian winter. However, the survivors were later joined by more sisters from Ireland, and today the order here still counts as many as 100 religious sisters, mostly based in Toronto and Guelph, but also present in Saskatchewan, who strive to emulate the charisms of their foundress, Mary Ward.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Like incense, the white smoke of smouldering sweetgrass, cedar, sage and tobacco rises from a seashell as a small group of church-goers pray in the four cardinal directions, giving thanks to the Creator. As Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. , celebrates Mass, he does so in front of a wall papered with the view of a forest. 

This scene — where aboriginal Catholics in Ottawa welcomed Prendergast to celebrate Mass at the Kateri Native Ministry office — was certainly not the first time Catholicism and native spirituality have intertwined. But it is a growing reality in cities like Ottawa and Toronto where the population of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people is growing.

{mosimage}TORONTO - The world’s economic crisis hasn’t caught Catholic hospitals in Toronto unawares.

Although all Ontario hospitals are more than likely to encounter financial struggles this year, health care rationing and budget adjustments are all too familiar to Catholic institutions, said Hazel Markwell, executive director of the Centre for Clinical Ethics in Toronto.

{mosimage}During the past 15 years that he spent searching through boxes and files in a basement room at Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ont., volunteer archivist Steve Catlin has come across many surprises.

One day he found a box marked “director’s box.” Inside, among what seemed to just be odds and ends, he found two pieces of burnt wood. Research revealed that these were remains of two posts excavated from St. Ignace II, the place where Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were martyred.

{mosimage}When Pope John Paul II made his Canada-wide visit 25 years ago, people feasted their eyes on the largest event the country had ever known.

After having landed in Quebec City Sept. 9, 1984, the pontiff crisscrossed his way across Canada in a monumental 12-day trip that took him to every province except Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, drawing tens of thousands at every site.

{mosimage}Fr. Damien de Veuster, canonized Oct. 11, understood Christ’s message of caring for others — something we can all learn from, and should. Also worth noting is the impact his canonization has had and will have on the tiny island of Molokai where he ministered to victims of leprosy, now known as Hansen’s Disease.

When I flew out to Hawaii two years ago, I had the surprise of my life. Not only was Molokai Island the home to cowboys, spear-fishers and, believe it or not, thousands of goats living in the mountains, it was also home to a vibrant and rather large Catholic community. Their enthusiasm first hit when when I attended Sunday Mass — I was greeted at the door with a lei made of small seashells and, along with other first-timers, was asked to stand up before Mass so that I could be introduced, by name, to the congregation.