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.

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.

TORONTO - For Gérard Byamungu, the most memorable part of the Third World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students in Rome was meeting the Pope.

“It was a gesture of appreciating what we do as international students,” said Byamungu, an international student studying at Toronto’s Ryerson University on shaking hands with Pope Benedict XVI. “I was very happy that I had the chance to meet him and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

While all delegates had an audience with the Pope, only select participants had the opportunity to shake his hand.

TORONTO - The archdiocese of Toronto has launched an online donation portal that will now give parishioners the opportunity to donate to their parish and Catholic charities with the click of a button.

"It's pretty exciting because a parishioner can go online and make a donation to either their offertory, building fund or capital campaign," said Quentin Schesnuik, manager of planned giving and personal gifts with the archdiocese.

TORONTO - Singers, dancers, musicians and artists lent their talents to raise about $4,000 to support the pro-life charity Aid to Women at a Dec. 8 fundraiser at the El Mocambo nightclub.

The event was held on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“The owner of El Mocambo is a Marian devotee and he loves Mary and so he loves to donate his club on Marian feast days to causes that understand those feast days,” said Elena Repka, event organizer and vice-president of Aid to Women’s volunteer board of directors. She asked that the club owner not be named to respect his privacy.

It’s a good thing the federal government wants to know where millions of dollars given to the Attawapiskat community has gone, Fr. Rodrigue Vézina told The Catholic Register on the phone from the Northern Ontario reserve. Since 2007, the government has given more than $90 million to the struggling community.

“All of us want to check where all of our tax money is going,” said Vézina, an Oblate missionary and pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Attawapiskat, supported by Catholic Missions In Canada.

The small isolated town near the western shore of James Bay received international attention when Chief Theresa Spence declared a state of emergency in October as temperatures began to drop. For at least the past two years, many residents have lived in makeshift tents and shacks without heat, electricity or indoor plumbing.

Contemplating Christian unity could get you an iPad 2 as part of this year’s Friar’s Essay Contest.

Submissions are currently being accepted for the 10th annual contest for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity co-sponsored by The Catholic Register and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor in Toronto.

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “We will all be changed.” Students are asked to submit a 500-word essay answering the question: What must be changed in order to attain Christian unity in the Church?