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.

creche vandalizedTORONTO - For the sixth year in a row, vandals have taken a shot at the Christmas creche in front of Old City Hall in downtown Toronto.

Passersby noticed the plexiglass window which encases the statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus had been smashed on Dec. 5. Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Coalition's Catholic wing was preparing to replace the broken pane on Dec. 8.
Toronto Archbishop Thomas CollinsTORONTO - Spurred by the exodus of Iraqi Christians, the archdiocese of Toronto doubled the number of Iraqi refugee families it sponsored in 2010 to 190.

The boom in Iraqi refugee sponsorships was fueled by 40 new refugee sponsorship committees or initiatives aimed at rescuing Iraqi refugees. The Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto is currently handling sponsorship files for  approximately 250 refugees from around the world.
Rabbi SchildTORONTO - Christian-Jewish dialogue isn’t just about Christians and Jews. It’s about how human beings should conduct themselves, how we secure a future of peace, how we know God and how we repair the world, said one of the pioneers of religious dialogue in Canada.

Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Toronto, along with the Canadian Jewish Congress, put on a gala dinner to honour Rabbi Erwin Schild and his wife Laura Schild at the Liberty Grand banquet hall in Toronto Nov. 24. Bishops, rabbis, reverend doctors and theologians were among those gathered to honour him
Fr. Henri NouwenRICHMOND HILL, ONT. - World famous Catholic author Fr. Henri Nouwen has a new resting place, in an Anglican cemetery.

In July Nouwen’s remains were moved from the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in King City north of Toronto to St. John’s Anglican Cemetery in Richmond Hill. The author of The Wounded Healer, The Inner Voice and The Return of the Prodigal Son had been buried at Sacred Heart in 1996 after his sudden death while visiting his native Holland.

CFSTO logoTORONTO - With a Nov. 3 Mass at St. Paul’s Basilica, Catholic Family Services of Toronto launched a program to heal the wounds of abusive marriages with equal doses of friendship and hope. The raw material will be supplied by women who have themselves survived abusive husbands.

Women Helping Women will start off modestly with seven survivors learning how to become mentors to women still trying to find their feet in the aftermath of their ordeals. The volunteer mentors won’t take the place of trained counsellors, psychologists or therapists. Their training through the month of December will teach them how to sip coffee and listen, how to be available to women who have been isolated and frightened for too long.

 Simon Appolloni and Stephen ScharperTORONTO - Nobody is in favour of torture, unjust imprisonment, secret trials, pre-emptive war or judicial murder. However, despite our best intentions, we live in a world of death penalties, wars and occupations.

For Stephen Scharper and Simon Appolloni, a University of Toronto religious studies professor and the PhD student he supervises, knowing we are not innocent requires a Christian response, one of discernment, reflection and prayer. That’s why they’ve launched an English Canadian chapter of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT).
Father Carl MatthewsJesuit Father Carl Matthews disbelieves his own birth certificate. In February he will be 80.

“So I’m way past my due date, I think,” Matthews told The Catholic Register. “I can’t get over looking at a birth certificate that I am the age that I am.”

Parishioners at St. John the Evangelist in Waubaushene, on Georgian Bay in the northern reaches of the archdiocese of Toronto, said a fond farewell to their energetic pastor of the past 16 years on Oct. 23. Matthews will take up duties as chaplain for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. He will be replaced in Waubaushene by Jesuit Father Stephen LeBlanc.

The former chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, former editor and publisher of The Catholic Register, former teacher and former campaigner for full funding of Catholic high schools never expected to spend much time as a parish pastor.
mcqueen cloughTORONTO - Leaning on the expertise of six lay people, including three women, the archdiocese of Toronto has declared redress, accountability and pastoral care aren’t just words or theories but concrete realities in cases of sexual abuse.

Members of the committee that worked on revising the Toronto Church’s 20-year-old sexual abuse policies told The Catholic Register the new norms represent incremental rather than radical change, and that new Church law won’t by itself make the problem go away.

“I would like to say that we think the problem is solved,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Philip Dodgson of the Southdown Institute. “I’m afraid that it’s something that is part of society, not just the Church. The protocol that we’ve written up will need to be reviewed and updated as new knowledge and better procedures are acquired.”
St. Anthony’s parishToronto - The very first sermon ever preached at St. Anthony’s on Bloor Street West was about social justice.

“The dedicatory ritual completed, Mass was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Coyle of the Church of the Holy Family. Rev. Fr. Roach preached the sermon, pointing out the relationship of the Roman Catholic Church to the social and economic problems of the day,” wrote the Empire and Mail on Sept. 25, 1922.
Dion MacArthurTORONTO - Veterans Affairs has come to The Good Shepherd mission in downtown Toronto looking for vets. And they’re finding them.

In her first two weeks as the Veterans Affairs case worker at The Good Shepherd, Dion MacArthur had already identified 15 homeless vets ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-80s, having served Canada in missions from Afghanistan to the Second World War.