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.

Karlee SapoznikTORONTO - Modern-day slavery is the most under-publicized human rights crisis of our time, said Karlee Sapoznik, a PhD student in history at York University. So Sapoznik, along with three others with ties to York, decided to take action.

They created the non-governmental organization Alliance Against Modern Slavery which launched with a fundraising concert and anti-slavery art auction on Jan. 28 followed by an inaugural conference on Jan. 29 at Toronto’s York University.

“Our vision is to combat modern slavery by collecting resources, building programs and creating alliances among a network of local and global partners so that every person has the opportunity for sustainable freedom,” said Sapoznik.
Knights of ColumbusMarkham, Ont. - The Knights of Columbus has more than 14,000 councils around the world but none quite like the one opened recently in a small Toronto-area parish.

The council that opened last May at Jesus Melkite Catholic Church in Markham, Ont., is, according to Grand Knight Hisham Marrow, the world’s first and only Christian Arab council in the 129-year history of the Knights. 

“Our mission is to help rebuild the churches in the Holy Land,” said Marrow, adding the council also helps the Christian Arab community and churches in Canada.

The council has 40 members, all parishioners. But Marrow hopes to extend membership to other Christian Arab parishes.

Along with collecting donations to rebuild churches in the Holy Land, the council will be raising money by selling homemade rosaries, said Marrow.
TORONTO - From stem cell research and cloning to physician-assisted suicide and terminal sedation, Catholics seeking to better understand emerging issues in bioethics  should mark their calendars.

For People in the Pews, an “everyday bioethics” lecture series run by the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI), seeks to help Catholics better understand the Church’s position on various issues. Starting on Feb. 3, the series will run weekly for a month at St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland parish in Toronto. Now in its fifth year, this is the first time the series is coming to the parish.
Iraqi sponsorshipTORONTO - The process is underway for the archdiocese of Toronto to sponsor the Hermez family, Iraqi Christians currently residing in Lebanon, Fr. Edward Curtis told a group of about 30 people at the Catholic Pastoral Centre on Jan. 10.

“The archbishop is the one who is technically sponsoring them,” said Curtis. “He’s signed the papers himself. It’s all been sent to begin the process but no individual can sponsor a family, it always has to be done by a group according to immigration laws.”
Emeka BrianTORONTO - Spiritual leaders, agency directors, government officials, community leaders, educators and corporations will be some of the groups gathering together for the Jan. 12 launch of the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice.

Spearheaded by the theology and spirituality of St. Augustine and sponsored by the Order of St. Augustine, the goal of the centre is to open up dialogue between community groups and leaders to make social justice a reality, said Brian Dwyer, director of the centre and a parishioner at St. Brigid’s parish in Toronto.

“We believe that through partnerships and collaboration between groups in the community and the decision makers that a dialogue and agreement (on social justice issues) could occur,” said Dwyer.

The launch is an effort to get the dialogue started and establish partnerships with community leaders. In addition, the centre wants to get community groups that are interested in similar social justice issues working together to approach decision makers.
Christina PanziniTORONTO - This Christmas, Christina Panzini is going to be making Christmas gifts for her grandparents using the nicest beads she can find. But she won’t be making bracelets or necklaces. This year, Panzini will be making homemade rosaries.

“I never know what to buy my grandparents and I want to give them things that are sentimental,” she said. “Something they’ll use and appreciate.”

Panzini, a third-year geography student at York University, said it’s easy to make beautiful rosaries at reasonable prices. She buys all materials at art supply stores, like Michaels, which stock all the required parts.
athiest posterTORONTO - The new ad campaign from the atheist group behind last year’s “there’s probably no God” campaign suggests that Christ and Allah have the same amount of credibility as UFOs, Big Foot, psychics, Zeus and homeopathy.

“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence” reads the new campaign poster set to run on TTC vehicles in Toronto. While the ads are still pending approval, they are expected to make their debut on streetcars in January, said Justin Trottier, national executive director of the Centre for Inquiry, the group behind the campaign. If all goes according to plan, Trottier said the ads will then run in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.

“Broadening our focus from just God, we’ll now call for skepticism and rational inquiry into any conceivable extraordinary claim,” said Trottier.
flynn familyThe Flynn family needed help. They were paying $1,000 every month for bariatric diapers for their daughter Jennifer who has a rare chromosome disorder, making her one of 40 such cases in the world. So Julie Flynn, Jennifer’s mother, asked for help — and she received.

“My husband has had to give up his job to take care of her,” said Flynn, who lives in Orangeville, Ont. “We’re a one-income family and we’re paying $1,000 every month for diapers. And we were thinking and in desperation I wrote to every service club in the Orangeville area. The Knights of Columbus responded and it just went from there.”
St. Francis TableTORONTO - At the sound of the doorbell, Br. John Frampton swings open the door at St. Francis Table restaurant to welcome more diners.

“Hi, Brother John,” says a man, obviously a regular. He takes a seat and is served a meal by volunteers in aprons. Frampton, in his robes, bustles from table to table speaking with patrons enjoying a meal of soup, meatloaf, peas and fries.
 The Man Who Hid Anne FrankTORONTO - While the harrowing story of Anne Frank and her family’s struggle for survival against the Nazis during the Second World War is a well-known one, it’s safe to assume that few people know the story of Victor Kugler.

But it’s because of Kugler that we know the story of Anne Frank, the German-born, Netherlands-raised young Jewish girl who died at the hands of the Nazis, author Rick Kardonne told an audience of about 50 people Nov. 9 at a talk about his book, Victor Kugler: The Man Who Hid Anne Frank.