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 - 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.

TORONTO - With Haiti yet to emerge from the rubble, Christians didn't have to think hard to come up with a reason to pray hard and pray together at the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ecumenical prayer service Jan. 24.

"We're called to reach out to assist those who suffer and to pray together (for the people of Haiti)," declared Archbishop Thomas Collins in his sermon at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, part of the ecumenical grouping of mid-town Toronto churches called the "Churches on the Hill." Along with two Anglican and five Protestant churches, the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood churches include Holy Rosary and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Churches.

 

{mosimage}TORONTO - A window on the Kingdom of God now hangs in the chapel at the archdiocese of Toronto’s Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Icon painter Janusz Charczuk donated the painting of the archangel Michael to the archdiocese. The icon of the patron saint of the archdiocese of Toronto took three months to paint using traditional materials and techniques, including a base of 16 layers of gesso made from marble dust, and hand-mixed colours in egg tempura.

With only a few, small projects in the Middle East, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is carefully watching the changing political landscape before it makes any changes to its programming in the region.

“Our current program, which is mainly focused on peacebuilding, is quite small and we are not present in any of the countries experiencing protests,” Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico told The Catholic Register.

Most of the $935,000 a year Development and Peace designates for the Middle East is in fact spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where partner agencies receive $385,000 and $120,000 to run programs that help women earn money.
As a new round of negotiations with sex abuse victims continues, following a $1.5-million settlement shared among six victims, Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini has sent Catholics of Yarmouth a letter which includes a blistering assessment of priestly crimes and a bleak warning about future payouts.

“The behaviour of these priests and their failures are criminal, immoral and shameful. There is no excuse for it and there is not much that can be done to change what has happened,” Mancini wrote Jan. 24.

As archbishop of Halifax, Mancini is temporarily responsible for the smaller neighbouring diocese of Yarmouth. Yarmouth has not had a bishop since Bishop James Wingle was appointed to St. Catharines, Ont., in 2001. Wingle has since resigned his position in St. Catharines.
Egypt ProtestTORONTO - As the Muslim Brotherhood spoke directly with Egypt’s government and as Christian leaders and Muslim scholars paraded together through Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Toronto’s tiny Coptic Catholic community prayed for peace and wisdom in Egypt, and for the safety of their relatives back home.

“This is our part, to collect our voice and go to God,” said Magda Megalli after Mass Feb. 6 at Holy Family Coptic Catholic Church in Toronto’s west end.

Most Holy Family parishioners send money monthly back to their families, said parish priest Fr. Bishoi Anis. The protests and street fighting that began in Cairo on Jan. 24 and the apparent end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule have left Toronto Copts feeling stunned and helpless, he said.

“What can you do here, here in Canada?” Anis asked.
Prison graphicBuilding on an October letter from Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Church Council on Justice and Corrections is trying to galvanize opposition to Conservative justice and corrections policies by showing how much it’s going to cost to jail people for longer periods.

The council, which includes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops among 11 national churches, sent its own letter to Harper just before Christmas. It repeats Gordon’s argument against tough-on-crime legislation.

“Your policy is applying a costly prison response to people involved in the courts who are non-violent offenders, or to repeat offenders who are mentally ill and/or addicted, the majority of whom are not classified as high risk. These offenders are disproportionately poor, ill-equipped to learn, from the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups,” said the letter.
Rose of Sharon TORONTO - When Ontario Finance Minster Dwight Duncan receives the pre-budget submission from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto, he’s not going to be surprised by the spending priorities of the 28 agencies Catholic Charities funds. But Catholic Charities hopes to catch Duncan’s attention with their reasons for increased social spending.

Catholic Charities agencies serve Toronto communities by supporting teenaged mothers, helping the deaf, caring for young people with developmental disabilities, providing day care and counselling couples and families in crisis. They want Duncan to put money in service of the poor. They’re asking for:

  •  a $100 a month healthy food supplement to welfare payments to try to reduce reliance on food banks for 375,000 people every month who visit an Ontario food bank;

  •  raising the Ontario Child Benefit for low-income families to $1,500 by 2013. The $1,100 OCB is scheduled to rise to $1,310 by 2013;
As mud and water claim lives and homes around the world, Catholics in Canada are exploring ways they might help.

Floods have claimed 680 lives in Brazil and left 21,500 homeless in the worst natural disaster to hit South America’s largest country in 40 years. In Australia floods have killed 30 people, 20,000 have been forced out of their homes and 60 towns submerged in the western state of Queensland. Colombia was hit with mudslides just before Christmas that killed 301 people, injured 292, destroyed more than 5,000 homes, damaged over 300,000 homes and flooded 1.32 million hectares of farm land.