Vanessa Santilli-Raimondo, The Catholic Register

Vanessa Santilli-Raimondo, The Catholic Register

Vanessa is a communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations and Communications for the Archdiocese of Toronto and former reporter and youth editor for The Catholic Register. 

You can follow her on twitter @V_Santilli.

VICTORIA, B.C. - As it celebrates its first anniversary since formation on Feb. 13, 2011, the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) chapter at the University of Victoria (UVic) is young in more ways than one. 

The second university-based CWL chapter in Canada, all the members of the UVic CWL are under the age of 30.

“We’re really excited to have women establishing CWLs on university campuses,” said Velma Harasen, the CWL’s national president. “Their youth voice brings a whole new perspective to the League.”

TORONTO - Spiritan Father Edward Graham, who taught for many years in Spiritan schools, passed away Jan. 26 at the age of 88. He was in his 62nd year of the priesthood with the Spiritans.

“He was a brilliant person,” said Fr. Paul McAuley, a fellow Spiritan who had known him for about 30 years. “He was very kind and lived very simply.”

TORONTO - Everything Jim Gregory has in life is a result of his association with Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School, he said.

Serving the NHL today as senior vice president of hockey operations, Gregory is one of six alumni being inducted into the Order of St. Michael this year, the highest honour St. Michael’s College School can bestow on a member of its community.

“I look up to the people who they have in the Order of St. Michael and never dreamt I’d be considered for it,” said Gregory, 76. “So when I was called, it was an unbelievable surprise.”

TORONTO - With the busy schedule of a university student, Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt was finding it difficult to fit prayer into her regular routine during her school years.

To remedy this, her spiritual director suggested she get creative, recommending a variety of different prayer styles.

“She said Jesus is not expecting the friendship to look any one way,” said Nicholas-Schmidt, program director at Faith Connections, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto’s youth ministry. “How can we talk to Jesus in a way that fits in with our lives no matter where we are on the journey?”

TORONTO - Natalie Wong is the first-place winner of the Friar’s Essay Contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

High school students between the ages of 14 and 18 were asked to submit an essay no longer than 500 words answering the question: “What must be changed in order to attain Christian unity in the Church?”

Students were asked to reflect on the Scripture passage of 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, given the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25: “We will all be changed.”

TORONTO - Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird met with a group of religious leaders in Toronto Jan. 18 to continue discussions on the soon-to-launch Office of Religious Freedom.

“The only thing the minister said is that this office is for religious minorities abroad — not at home — and it has a budget of $5 million,” said Imam Abdul Hai Patel, who was in attendance at the consultation.

But there was not a clear answer as to how this is going to be enforced, he said.

TORONTO - More than 20,000 pamphlets were dropped in mailboxes at homes across Ontario as part of the “De-Fund Abortion Pamphleting Blitz” on Jan. 14.

The aim was to raise awareness among taxpayers that their tax dollars are providing abortion services in the province.

“It works at the grassroots level to spread awareness about… abortion funding to motivate and activate the everyday person to contact their MPP,” said Alissa Golob, youth co-ordinator at Campaign Life Coalition, who ran the event.

TORONTO - Timothy Keslick has had a spiritual director for the past three years — and he nows sees his faith as a joy, something to be embraced. 

“It’s good to freshen and strengthen your spiritual life and make sure you’re on the right track… It’s just getting into the habit of being more open to whatever God has in store,” said Keslick, a second-year history and linguistics student at Toronto’s York University.

While spiritual direction is commonly associated with adults, there are many young adults who seek it too, said Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt, director of Faith Connections, the young adult ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Faith Connections connects young adults with spiritual directors. 

TORONTO - Musician Susan HooKong-Taylor is doing everything she can in her music ministry to build up the body of Christ.

One way is through a Catholic arts initiative called The Beads.

“The Beads is an initiative that allows people to connect and then to express, to experience and to share a culture of life through the arts,” HooKong-Taylor told The Catholic Register.

TORONTO - The City of Toronto is conducting an online survey to determine if the public wants retail stores to open on holidays such as Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

This retail holiday shopping consultation is the result of a May 2010 report recommending that City Council allow all retail stores to remain open or closed at the discretion of the store owner or manager. 

“We’ve had a number of residents, retailers and businesses who have said in certain areas of the city… the holiday shopping is allowed and what they have indicated to the city is they don’t think it’s fair that in certain areas of the city the city allows it, but not in other areas,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee.