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.

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MPP Dave Levac with his Ukrainian Order of Merit. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Not many people have been knighted for an act of remembering. Ontario Liberal MPP Dave Levac is one of the few, recently made a Chevalier of the Ukrainian Order of Merit for his efforts to have the genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s officially recognized in Ontario.

In 2009 Levac pushed through the Holodomor Memorial Day Act, recognizing the fourth Saturday of each November as Holodomor Memorial Day. A Soviet government-engineered famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, the Holodomor killed up to 10 million Ukrainians, as many as 25,000 a day at its peak in 1933.

Levac was presented with his Order of Merit medal at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brantford, Ont., Jan. 21. It’s the highest honour awarded by the Ukrainian government.

“It humbles me,” said Levac.
A Christian cleric clasps hands with a Muslim sheik during a rally to demonstrate unity between Muslims and Christians in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, March 11. The rally took place after recent sectarian clashes left 13 people dead. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany, Reuters)Despite a church-burning and Muslim-Christian rioting that killed 13 and wounded 140 in a Christian neighbourhood in Cairo March 8, Egyptian Christians don’t believe their country is headed for a spiral of Iraq-style religious violence.

“Egypt won’t become Iraq because the nature of the Egyptian person throughout history is that he loves to live in peace,” Catholic student Fady Bushra told The Catholic Register in an e-mail from Cairo.

“We are all angry. It has nothing to do with being Christian or being Muslim. We are all Egyptians,” said Egyptian-born Germaine Raie of Holy Family Coptic Catholic Church in Toronto.

But even as they express confidence that Egyptians don’t want communal violence, Raie and Bushra are worried there could be more incidents.
Small farmers must be given the land, water and technology to be successful, says Development and Peace. (CNS photo/Imelda Medina, Reuters)Money that the Catholic agency Chalice used to spend helping kids go to school, helping adults acquire basic literacy, helping communities organize around income-producing projects is now going to feed people who can no longer afford rice and beans.

Commodity food prices, particularly for wheat and rice, have risen to their highest levels since 2008. The World Bank’s food price index shot up 15 per cent between October and January. The bank estimates price increases have driven another 44 million into extreme poverty.

“The impact in the beginning was initially a reduction in the quantity of food being served (at parish-run feeding programs). Now it’s transitioned into a change in diet,” said Suzanne Johnson, Chalice’s international manager for Africa, Haiti and Ukraine. “With rice being so expensive and wheat, they’re now pretty much based on cassava and maize... Our feeding programs are trying to deal with the same amount of money, but the dollar is not buying as much.”

Members of Toronto's Japanese Catholic Community pray for victims of the earthquake that has ravaged their home country. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Toronto's Japanese Catholic Community was relieved and consoled by the opportunity to pray together for their families, their country of birth and for Fr. André Lachapelle, the first Canadian victim of the 9.0 earthquake in their home country.

"I wanted to pray with other people," said Yoko Takino, who has been in Canada just five months. "I prayed alone in my house, but it's more important with my friends."

Takino received an e-mail via cellphone within a day of the March 11 quake telling her that her most immediate family is well. But the pictures of devastation in Japan, the rising death toll — officially more than 1,800 as of March 14, but expected to rise — and the worsening situation at various nuclear power plants has made it a difficult time, she said.

Protesters are demanding a $100 food supplement in the upcoming provincial budget. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Standing in the rain outside Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's office with about 100 church-based protesters demanding a $100 food supplement in the up-coming provincial budget, Redemptorist Father Paul Hansen said he was there for the sake of the Eucharist.

"The Eucharist is first a verb before it's a noun," he said.

Appealing to the most ancient Catholic belief in the corpus mysticum Christi, that the people of God are the body of Christ, Hansen said we can't ignore the hunger and poverty of parts of the body of Christ.