Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael is Associate Editor of The Catholic Register.

He is an award-winning writer and photographer and holds a Master of Arts degree from New York University.

Follow him on Twitter @MmmSwan, or click here to email him.

{mosimage}TORONTO - With Filipinos still digging their homes out of the mud, and many more with no homes to return to after Typhoon Ketsana swept through the region just north of Manila Sept. 26, Canadians continue to add to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s relief fund.

Following an initial $50,000 contribution, Development and Peace has raised a further $108,000 to help Caritas in the Philippines. That total does not include $70,000 sent in so far by Toronto parishes to ShareLife.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Msgr. Thomas Barrett Armstrong, a priest who knew the inner workings of beauty and shared the gift of music with hundreds of students, his city and his church, passed away peacefully at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence Nov. 14, just days before his 80th birthday.

Ripples from the former director of music at St. Michael’s Choir School  lifetime of teaching and conducting are preserved everywhere in the musical life of Toronto and Canada, said Lydia Adams, conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers. 

TORONTO - Canada's first non-white bishop along with a man who has spent 20 years forming young priests are ready to share in the leadership of Canada's biggest, richest and most diverse diocese.

Fr. Vincent Nguyen (Nguyen Manh Hieu), who came to Canada as a teenaged refugee in 1984 and is a great-grandson of one of 117 Vietnamese Martyrs canonized in 1988, will make the transition from chancellor of spiritual affairs and moderator of the curia to auxiliary bishop with a Toronto ordination likely some time in January

{mosimage}TORONTO - June Dickenson knows exactly what ails her and precisely what keeps her life on track.

“Alzheimer’s. I’ve had it for some time,” she told a visitor. “I couldn’t do without this guy.”

Dickenson’s guy is Norm, her husband of 56 years.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Mary Hatch is comfortably retired from a career in banking that saw her take on various managerial roles. Her kids are in university and starting careers. She lives in one of Toronto’s leafy old neighbourhoods where the houses sell for un-godly sums.

In the normal course of her day, or her year, Hatch’s life would never intersect with the life of a single mother who can’t afford a bath mat or towels or a microwave. In Hatch’s parish and neighbourhood mothers don’t fear Christmas because they have no chance of fulfilling Christmas wishes. In Hatch’s world standardized sheets for a crib,  a winter coat from Wal-Mart or winter boots are basics, not Christmas gifts.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Activists with Campaign Life Coalition were shocked to find themselves accused of playing pro-life politics with Christmas. All they wanted to do was honour an aging, beloved priest, said the head of Campaign Life’s Gethsemene Ministries.

“I was quite surprised,” Suresh Dominic told The Catholic Register.

After written complaints reached Mayor David Miller’s office, city officials asked Dominic to remove a sign from the back of the creche display in front of Old City Hall. The sign on a laminated 8X11 sheet of paper said the statues in the scene had been anonymously donated in honour of “pro-life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.”

{mosimage}TORONTO - For the first time in 30 years, Bishop-elect Vincent Nguyen will be together with his eight brothers and sisters in one place, but it won't happen until his ordination on Jan. 13.

A last-minute snag delayed the youngest Nguyen brother, Hau. Hau tried to board the first international flight of his life carrying a hand-carved bishop's staff or crosier. It was not deemed appropriate carry-on luggage and by the time everything was sorted out the plane was gone. Arrangements had to be made for him to fly to Canada Jan. 12, when his big brother will be in London for Bishop-elect Bill McGrattan's ordination.

TORONTO - Don't have a ticket for the big ordinations Jan. 12 and 13? Can't drive all the way to London or fight the traffic to St. Michael's Cathedral in downtown Toronto? No worries. You can be there to see Toronto's two new bishops ordained just sitting in front of your computer screen.

Salt + Light TV, the digital television service that broadcasts World Youth Day-inspired Catholic programming in English and French, will be streaming the ordinations live on its web site.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Typhoons, floods, volcanoes — the Philippines has endured all kinds of natural disasters. But that doesn’t faze the Filipino community, said Fred Gamboa.

“We have one characteristic,” said Gamboa. “ We’re very resilient. We just bounce back.”

{mosimage}TORONTO - With an assist from the United Nations, the Archdiocese of Toronto has sprung a 14-year-old refugee from a three-year bureaucratic purgatory of waiting for the government of Canada to act.

Within days of receiving a letter from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian visa post in Accra, Ghana recognized Piratheeprajh SriVijayarajarajan, who had fled the civil war in Sri Lanka, as an urgent case and a week later had him on a plane to join family in Toronto. For four months Citizenship and Immigration officials at the Canadian embassy in Accra had insisted the boy refugee living alone in the West African city did not qualify for special treatment.