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 - For the first time in 30 years, Bishop-elect Vincent Nguyen will be together with his eight brothers and sisters in one place, but it won't happen until his ordination on Jan. 13.

A last-minute snag delayed the youngest Nguyen brother, Hau. Hau tried to board the first international flight of his life carrying a hand-carved bishop's staff or crosier. It was not deemed appropriate carry-on luggage and by the time everything was sorted out the plane was gone. Arrangements had to be made for him to fly to Canada Jan. 12, when his big brother will be in London for Bishop-elect Bill McGrattan's ordination.

TORONTO - Don't have a ticket for the big ordinations Jan. 12 and 13? Can't drive all the way to London or fight the traffic to St. Michael's Cathedral in downtown Toronto? No worries. You can be there to see Toronto's two new bishops ordained just sitting in front of your computer screen.

Salt + Light TV, the digital television service that broadcasts World Youth Day-inspired Catholic programming in English and French, will be streaming the ordinations live on its web site.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Typhoons, floods, volcanoes — the Philippines has endured all kinds of natural disasters. But that doesn’t faze the Filipino community, said Fred Gamboa.

“We have one characteristic,” said Gamboa. “ We’re very resilient. We just bounce back.”

{mosimage}TORONTO - With an assist from the United Nations, the Archdiocese of Toronto has sprung a 14-year-old refugee from a three-year bureaucratic purgatory of waiting for the government of Canada to act.

Within days of receiving a letter from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian visa post in Accra, Ghana recognized Piratheeprajh SriVijayarajarajan, who had fled the civil war in Sri Lanka, as an urgent case and a week later had him on a plane to join family in Toronto. For four months Citizenship and Immigration officials at the Canadian embassy in Accra had insisted the boy refugee living alone in the West African city did not qualify for special treatment.

TORONTO - With Haiti yet to emerge from the rubble, Christians didn't have to think hard to come up with a reason to pray hard and pray together at the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ecumenical prayer service Jan. 24.

"We're called to reach out to assist those who suffer and to pray together (for the people of Haiti)," declared Archbishop Thomas Collins in his sermon at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, part of the ecumenical grouping of mid-town Toronto churches called the "Churches on the Hill." Along with two Anglican and five Protestant churches, the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood churches include Holy Rosary and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Churches.


{mosimage}TORONTO - A window on the Kingdom of God now hangs in the chapel at the archdiocese of Toronto’s Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Icon painter Janusz Charczuk donated the painting of the archangel Michael to the archdiocese. The icon of the patron saint of the archdiocese of Toronto took three months to paint using traditional materials and techniques, including a base of 16 layers of gesso made from marble dust, and hand-mixed colours in egg tempura.

With only a few, small projects in the Middle East, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is carefully watching the changing political landscape before it makes any changes to its programming in the region.

“Our current program, which is mainly focused on peacebuilding, is quite small and we are not present in any of the countries experiencing protests,” Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico told The Catholic Register.

Most of the $935,000 a year Development and Peace designates for the Middle East is in fact spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where partner agencies receive $385,000 and $120,000 to run programs that help women earn money.
As a new round of negotiations with sex abuse victims continues, following a $1.5-million settlement shared among six victims, Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini has sent Catholics of Yarmouth a letter which includes a blistering assessment of priestly crimes and a bleak warning about future payouts.

“The behaviour of these priests and their failures are criminal, immoral and shameful. There is no excuse for it and there is not much that can be done to change what has happened,” Mancini wrote Jan. 24.

As archbishop of Halifax, Mancini is temporarily responsible for the smaller neighbouring diocese of Yarmouth. Yarmouth has not had a bishop since Bishop James Wingle was appointed to St. Catharines, Ont., in 2001. Wingle has since resigned his position in St. Catharines.
Egypt ProtestTORONTO - As the Muslim Brotherhood spoke directly with Egypt’s government and as Christian leaders and Muslim scholars paraded together through Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Toronto’s tiny Coptic Catholic community prayed for peace and wisdom in Egypt, and for the safety of their relatives back home.

“This is our part, to collect our voice and go to God,” said Magda Megalli after Mass Feb. 6 at Holy Family Coptic Catholic Church in Toronto’s west end.

Most Holy Family parishioners send money monthly back to their families, said parish priest Fr. Bishoi Anis. The protests and street fighting that began in Cairo on Jan. 24 and the apparent end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule have left Toronto Copts feeling stunned and helpless, he said.

“What can you do here, here in Canada?” Anis asked.
Prison graphicBuilding on an October letter from Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Church Council on Justice and Corrections is trying to galvanize opposition to Conservative justice and corrections policies by showing how much it’s going to cost to jail people for longer periods.

The council, which includes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops among 11 national churches, sent its own letter to Harper just before Christmas. It repeats Gordon’s argument against tough-on-crime legislation.

“Your policy is applying a costly prison response to people involved in the courts who are non-violent offenders, or to repeat offenders who are mentally ill and/or addicted, the majority of whom are not classified as high risk. These offenders are disproportionately poor, ill-equipped to learn, from the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups,” said the letter.