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.

University of St. Michael's CollegeTORONTO - Twenty theology professors and librarians at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College have won a slam-dunk ruling from the Ontario Labour Relations Board unionizing the faculty and obliging the college to negotiate a first contract.

The ruling not only recognized the St. Michael’s College profs as unionized workers seeking a contract, but ruled that all 2,600-plus faculty at the University of Toronto are in fact union members.

Before the March 17 ruling, the University of Toronto Faculty Association wasn’t formally a union, even though it negotiated minimum work conditions for university teachers and librarians, including pay, academic freedom, research and study leaves, workload, etc.

“What the board is really saying is that the nature of the relationship between the parties has the essential characteristics of a relationship between an employer and a union,” said Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk.
Patrizia De Libero Brown says Ornit-organized tours will allow pilgrims to meet with the local Church. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - If Catholics are ever going to feel at home in a global Church and a globalized world, they had better get out there, far from home, said Fr. Caesar Atuire, CEO of the Vatican’s service to pilgrims.

Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi has forged a North American partnership to offer travel services for Canadian pilgrims. Ornit, official distributor of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi services in North America, will offer pilgrimage packages to Rome, Lourdes, Israel and Palestine, walking pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, social justice tours of Nepal and event packages for World Youth Day and the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Working with Opera Romana, Ornit’s tours assure a faith focus for all their pilgrimages, including daily Mass.
Atlantic School of TheologyAs the legal strike deadline looms at 12:01 a.m. March 18, negotiators for the Atlantic School of Theology and its Faculty Association hope a March 21 meeting will put them on a path to a first contract between unionized librarians and professors and the school.

The big issue is money.

"The Atlantic School of Theology faculty is probably the most poorly paid faculty in Canada," said James Turk, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director. "What they're being offered by the school is very, very little."

Salaries for academic staff with PhDs range from $41,000 to $103,470 for a full professor. The president of the university makes just over $100,000, plus taxable benefits of $26,606.
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.