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 - 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.

{mosimage}TORONTO - “Peace is hard,” Justin Trudeau told more than 4,000 Catholic students gathered in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Peace Garden Sept. 29.
Nobody disagreed with him.

“We need your ideas, we need your vision, we need your dreams,” the Liberal Member of Parliament and ex-teacher declared.

Twenty-five years after his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, turned the sod on Toronto’s Peace Garden, his son was entrusting the ideals of peace and social justice to teenagers struggling with homework and hormones.

{mosimage}TORONTO - With Filipinos still digging their homes out of the mud, and many more with no homes to return to after Typhoon Ketsana swept through the region just north of Manila Sept. 26, Canadians continue to add to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s relief fund.

Following an initial $50,000 contribution, Development and Peace has raised a further $108,000 to help Caritas in the Philippines. That total does not include $70,000 sent in so far by Toronto parishes to ShareLife.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Msgr. Thomas Barrett Armstrong, a priest who knew the inner workings of beauty and shared the gift of music with hundreds of students, his city and his church, passed away peacefully at the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence Nov. 14, just days before his 80th birthday.

Ripples from the former director of music at St. Michael’s Choir School  lifetime of teaching and conducting are preserved everywhere in the musical life of Toronto and Canada, said Lydia Adams, conductor of the Elmer Iseler Singers. 

TORONTO - Canada's first non-white bishop along with a man who has spent 20 years forming young priests are ready to share in the leadership of Canada's biggest, richest and most diverse diocese.

Fr. Vincent Nguyen (Nguyen Manh Hieu), who came to Canada as a teenaged refugee in 1984 and is a great-grandson of one of 117 Vietnamese Martyrs canonized in 1988, will make the transition from chancellor of spiritual affairs and moderator of the curia to auxiliary bishop with a Toronto ordination likely some time in January

{mosimage}TORONTO - June Dickenson knows exactly what ails her and precisely what keeps her life on track.

“Alzheimer’s. I’ve had it for some time,” she told a visitor. “I couldn’t do without this guy.”

Dickenson’s guy is Norm, her husband of 56 years.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Mary Hatch is comfortably retired from a career in banking that saw her take on various managerial roles. Her kids are in university and starting careers. She lives in one of Toronto’s leafy old neighbourhoods where the houses sell for un-godly sums.

In the normal course of her day, or her year, Hatch’s life would never intersect with the life of a single mother who can’t afford a bath mat or towels or a microwave. In Hatch’s parish and neighbourhood mothers don’t fear Christmas because they have no chance of fulfilling Christmas wishes. In Hatch’s world standardized sheets for a crib,  a winter coat from Wal-Mart or winter boots are basics, not Christmas gifts.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Activists with Campaign Life Coalition were shocked to find themselves accused of playing pro-life politics with Christmas. All they wanted to do was honour an aging, beloved priest, said the head of Campaign Life’s Gethsemene Ministries.

“I was quite surprised,” Suresh Dominic told The Catholic Register.

After written complaints reached Mayor David Miller’s office, city officials asked Dominic to remove a sign from the back of the creche display in front of Old City Hall. The sign on a laminated 8X11 sheet of paper said the statues in the scene had been anonymously donated in honour of “pro-life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.”