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.

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.

Suzanne Fowler wants people to fill the hole in their hearts with God, not with food.

That’s the premise of Fowler’s Light Weigh program for weight loss, which she created to solve her own struggles with eating.

“People are not going to food because they’re physically hungry when they’re overeating,” Fowler told The Catholic Register. “They’re going to food because of a spiritual hunger. It’s emotional. It’s taking place in the heart.”

Creating a sculpture is like playing a game of chess, said sculptor Tim Schmalz of his expanding clay Nativity scene. 

"Your opponent does one move and that will determine your move," said Schmalz. "And with doing a multi-figured sculptural scene like this, I have to react with the central piece… I have to monitor what person plays what role within this drama."

Schmalz worked on his sculpture of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the sixth annual Friends of the Crèche International Convention in November and is currently working on adding the three wise men, shepherds, an angel and animals to the scene. He hopes to have the sculpture completed by Christmas.

TORONTO - Pro-life activist Linda Gibbons will be spending her Christmas season in jail, having been arrested Dec. 16 for violating an injunction that barred her protests in front of Toronto abortion clinics.

The arrest comes just two days removed from Gibbons’ appearance before the Supreme Court of Canada as she tried to have the injunction barring her pro-life protests quashed. This injunction has led to some 20 arrests over the years and nine years of incarceration.

Gibbons began her latest protest around 9 a.m. at the Morgentaler Clinic near Bayview and Eglinton Avenues. Toronto Police arrested her about two hours later.

North Bay’s Knights of Columbus are distributing 1,200 pins to parishioners this Advent to make sure they remember the reason for the season.

“They’re about an inch-and-a-half in diameter and it has ‘Christmas’ at the top and ‘birth of Christ’ at the bottom and a picture of the Holy Family,” said Donald Halsall, financial secretary of the North Bay Council 1007, which was chartered in 1905.

“It’s to remind our Christians what the real meaning of Christmas is. We get wrapped up in gifts… but we should be remembering the purpose of Christmas is the birth of Christ,” said Halsall.

TORONTO - For the 19th year running, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is offering “room at the inn” for out-of-town families visiting hospitalized relatives at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, Casey House Hospice and Hospice Toronto.

The Room at the Inn program offers families up to 10 guest rooms for a maximum of seven nights free of charge.

“It relieves some financial burden especially at this most difficult time of year for them,” said Eduarda Costa, administrative secretary for the social work office at St. Michael’s Hospital. “It allows families to be at the patients’ bedside offering support for a longer period of time.”

TORONTO - Pro-life activist Linda Gibbons, just two days removed from appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada, was arrested again Dec. 16 outside a Toronto abortion clinic.

Gibbons began her protest around 9 a.m. at the Morgentaler Clinic near Bayview and Eglinton Avenues. Toronto Police arrested her about two hours later.

Gibbons has been arrested multiple times for violating a temporary injunction issued in 1994 that prevents her from protesting within 150 metres of Toronto abortion clinics. Since then, she has served more than nine years in prison for her protests, with judges refusing to grant her bail unless she promises not to continue her protests. She refuses to abide by these conditions.

William Zlepnig was flabbergasted when he saw a stamp exhibit dedicated to Blessed John Paul II on display in Ottawa last April. He liked it so much he decided to sponsor the creation of a DVD that would keep the exhibit alive forever while at the same time helping to raise money for the restoration at St. Patrick’s Basilica.

“The basilica did a whole restoration outside and it’s (cost) up in the millions of dollars,” Zlepnig, a member of the St. Patrick’s Basilica Knights of Columbus, told The Catholic Register.

Titled A Stamp Tribute to John Paul II, about $4 or $5 of every DVD sold will go towards the restoration fund, he said.

December 13, 2011

A Filipino Christmas wish

TORONTO - This Christmas season, a group of Toronto Catholic students will be living Jesus’ Gospel of love and caring for others by helping to build homes in the Philippines.

From Dec. 27 to Jan. 10, 18 students will take part in the Philippines Study and Leadership Experience. The trip is being run by Adventure Learning Experiences in partnership with the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School, Loretto Abbey, Cardinal Carter and St. Michael’s Choir School are some of the eight  schools taking part. One student from the York Catholic District School Board will also be going.