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 - An Iraqi peace campaigner, on tour after receiving a Canadian human rights award, claims Christian Iraqi refugees — most of them stuck in Syria and Jordan — could safely return home to live in peace in Iraq.

“Let’s be honest. To get accepted here as a refugee, I have to talk about violence,” Ibrahim Ismaeel, chair of the board of directors of the Iraqi non-violence network La’Onf , told The Catholic Register.

{mosimage}When the 2010 G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont., morphed into a G20 meeting in Toronto, organizers of the 2010 World Religious Summit were unfazed.

“We saw this coming,” said Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton. “So we took this into consideration in the planning.”

{mosimage}A “diplomatic surge,”  including talks with willing Taliban leaders, should be the next step in Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, the majority of Canadian churches have told Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The governing council of the Canadian Council of Churches sent a letter and detailed brief to the Prime Minister Dec. 10 urging the government to invest heavily in diplomacy before Canada begins withdrawing troops in 2011.

{mosimage}TORONTO - An internal LCBO review of how Mass wine gets from California to your parish’s altar has church suppliers a wee bit nervous, but the provincial wine merchant and regulator is trying to reassure everyone it is not going to reroute the grape vine.

A January freedom of information request by The Canadian Press uncovered internal Liquor Control Board of Ontario memos which decried “general non-compliance with rules and regulations” in the sacramental wine business.

{mosimage}By 5:15 the afternoon of Jan. 14 — a day after a catastrophic earthquake collapsed buildings and killed thousands in Haiti — Catholics had overwhelmed the computer servers and phone systems at the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

The level of generosity "is phenomenal," said Development and Peace spokesperson Jasmine Fortin.

{mosimage}Elections in Iraq that some claim have opened the way for a more peaceful and democratic state haven’t overcome the divisions or the sectarian violence that is generating hundreds of thousands of refugees, said an Iraqi Dominican Sister.

Sr. Aman Miriam of Mosul, Iraq — currently staying with the Adrian Dominican community in Michigan — told The Catholic Register days after 62 per cent of eligible Iraqis voted in national elections March 7 that the thousands of Iraqi Christians living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria can’t return home and fear terrorist attacks and kidnapping if they do return.

Creche ConventionTORONTO - War, history and ecumenism are perhaps not the first associations Christians have with table-top models of baby Jesus nestled in the manger. But the Friends of the Creche intend to take on all three serious subjects at a three-day international convention in Toronto Nov. 10 to 12.

It’s the first time the American branch of the La Universalis Foederatio Praesepistica (known in Canada and the United States as the Friends of the Creche) has held it’s biennial convention in Canada. It’s expected to draw 350 conventioneers, plus hundreds more who will visit a display of rare, historic creches on display at the Royal York Hotel.
Jesuit Fr. Peter LariseyTORONTO - Before he was ordained, the young Jesuit Peter Larisey learned to take no for an answer. Practice makes perfect.

Drawn to art since childhood, Larisey wanted to study art in a serious way. Starting about 1959, each year Larisey would ask Father Provincial of the English Canadian Jesuits if he might be allowed to study art. Each year he was told, “No.”

“One of the good things about Jesuit superiors is that they have terms,” explains the 81-year-old priest, who continues to teach at the Toronto School of Theology and Regis College.

In 1966 Larisey showed the new Father Provincial his scrapbook filled with his published writing about art and the successes of his groundbreaking art exhibitions at Regis College.

“He carried the scrapbook in his hands and said, ‘You take this as far as you can,’ ”  recalls Larisey.
Bed bugsTORONTO - Aaron Lewis loves to see the smile on the faces of people when he’s done steaming and vacuuming their apartments. He knows that what he does helps people sleep a little easier.

“We make their life a bit more joyful,” he said.

Lewis forms part of a Good Shepherd CARES crew that prepares apartments for pesticide treatments that eliminate bed bugs and cockroaches. Without the intense and detailed cleaning they provide — steaming, vacuuming, overturning tables, chairs and beds and sealing up openings around phone jacks, cable and electrical outlets, laundering all the clothes and sheets, etc. — the mere application of chemicals won’t eliminate the pests.

Getting all that cleaning done for somebody who can’t do it by themselves makes Lewis feel proud and satisfied with a job well done.
CaravaggioTORONTO - There is no cause for sainthood for Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The painter who gave birth to baroque art was a scoundrel.  

A brilliant virtuoso with a paintbrush, Caravaggio was dangerous with a sword. He paraded about Rome with his weapon at his side and brawled frequently. In 1606 he killed a man. He was himself dead in 1610 at the age of 38.

But no one can claim to understand Caravaggio without understanding his religious world, the spirituality of his times and theological currents coursing through the Church during the Counter Reformation.

More saintly men have painted much less compelling theology than Caravaggio.