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 - Becoming a deacon is more than a way station on the road to priesthood for Vijai Amirtharaj and Jinto Mathew.

“It’s an important stage of our formation and our lives so far. It’s a stage when we are integrated into church ministry,” Amirtharaj said. “It’s part of the whole journey. It’s mystery.”

“It’s not my mission, but it’s the mission of the church,” adds Mathew.

{mosimage}TORONTO - There have been protests with thousands of Tamils out on the streets, but on June 11 the young Tamil activists organized a different sort of gathering in a basement classroom on the campus of the University of Toronto.

A student-organized Tamil multi-faith prayer service featured prayers from Sikhs, Christians, Hindus and Muslims and testimonials from young Tamils whose families have been devastated by the war in Sri Lanka.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Ordinary holiness is the gift of Opus Dei to the church, Archbishop Thomas Collins told an overflowing assembly at Our Lady of Sorrows on the feast of Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva.

"It is in that sublime simplicity of ordinary life, in the business of our world, that we are called to holiness," said Collins in his June 26 homily at the west end Toronto parish.

{mosimage}WOODBRODGE, Ont. - Tornados ripped through houses, tore chunks of roof off St. Peter's Catholic Elementary School, heaved the school's air conditioning unit into a ravine, tossed a Chevy up against an electrical transformer in front of the school, spread roofing nails and glass over streets like confetti — but the crazy storm of Aug. 20 hasn't harmed the spirit of St. Peter's parish in Woodbridge.

It's not that St. Peter's isn't hard at work cleaning up the mess. Thirty-six of the most severely damaged homes plus the school are within parish boundaries. Twenty-six of those wrecked houses are the homes of registered St. Peter's parishioners.
{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been 25 years since Pope John Paul II lit the eternal flame in Toronto’s Peace Garden, and every year the city’s Hiroshima Day Coalition magnifies that flame of hope and memory with an Aug. 6 commemoration of the first atom bomb used in war.

This year’s ceremony featured a Japanese lantern ceremony, which floated dozens of paper lanterns — each containing a single tea light lit from the eternal flame — across the water of the reflecting pool at Nathan Phillips Square.

{mosimage}TORONTO - In 1999, when the nuns and religious sisters of Toronto decided to build some affordable housing in their city to celebrate the millennium Jubilee along with Pope John Paul II they thought they were addressing an urgent local problem.

Ten years on, as people finally move into their homes in southeast Scarborough, Mughtar Yarow has news for them. (See photos of project homes here .)

{mosimage}TORONTO - In an age when medicine and religion seem to frequently collide, the three Abrahamic faiths and medical science have found common ground on organ donations.

On Sept. 20, the archdiocese of Toronto will distribute 200,000 brochures to parishes explaining the theology, science and morality of organ donation. But they won't be alone.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Praying for the homeless on Thanksgiving Monday morning at Toronto’s Peace Garden, Ambrose declared himself God’s comedian.

The grey, five-degree morning was already cold enough to make a soul wince for those who slept outside the night before. Prayers were offered for Toronto’s street population and the homeless throughout the world. Ambrose joined the circle after having spent the previous night in front of the Thomson Building on Queen Street West, across the street from City Hall.

{mosimage}TORONTO - If Christians and Muslims are going to talk, Christians are going to have to unlearn what they think they know about Muslims, particularly Muslim women, according to a Wilfred Laurier University professor of religion and culture.

From the images of protesting women in burkas to the idea Western armies can liberate women in Afghanistan, cliches and gross simplifications are overwhelming conversation, Meena Sharify-Funk told about three dozen students along with church and mosque representatives at the annual dinner of the National Muslim Christian Liason Committee held in the University of Toronto’s Multifaith Centre Oct. 1.

{mosimage}TORONTO - There are 17,000 people living in 19 high-rise buildings crammed into just two city blocks in St. James Town — Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhood. Two of those 17,000 chose St. Jamestown over an historic, six-bedroom brick home in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood near High Park.

Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Jim Webb, and his right hand man, or socius, Fr. Peter Bisson have been living in a three-bedroom apartment in one of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods for 10 months.
Webb believes the Jesuit vow of poverty has to be more than a theory.

“If you say that material things are not important but then there’s no sign of it, it lacks credibility,” he said.