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.

Students from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts hold their pirate ship made from plastic water bottles during a rally held on Bottled Water-Free Day at the Catholic Education Centre in March. From left to right, Ann Blennerhassett, Clare Wheeler and Madeline Della Mora. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)TORONTO - A motion to make the Toronto Catholic District School Board a “bottled water-free zone” by September 2012 has passed unanimously.

The board will “work towards phasing out and eliminating bottled water in all schools, cafeterias, vending machines, school and board functions and all school board property,” read the motion presented at the April 20 board meeting.

The objective is to have all schools in the TCDSB become bottled water-free zones, said trustee Maria Rizzo, who said she put the motion forward on behalf of all the board’s students. Full implementation will depend on contracts the board has signed with vending machine operators.

“But we might have contracts right now with vending machine companies so we can’t end those until the contract ends,” she said. “I don’t know how long our vending machine contracts go for. They might go until September 2013 but what that means is those contracts will not be renewed.”

Coming on the heels of Mother’s Day, Deborah Morlani believes the timing couldn’t be more right for the National March for Life.

"It’s perfect timing for women to be showing that they’re proud to be mothers and that motherhood is a blessing," Morlani, a pro-life speaker and Catholic writer, told The Catholic Register.

The annual National March for Life takes place in Ottawa May 11 through 13, mere days after Mother’s Day. This year’s theme is "Abortion kills a human being." The aim of the march is to promote respect for life at all stages, from conception to natural death.

Morlani, along with taking part in the march, will be among the guest speakers at the march’s youth conference on May 13.

"I was conceived in rape when my mother was raped when she was 16, so I’ll be sharing my testimonial with youth," she said. The title of her talk is "Every human being deserves a chance at life: no exceptions."

At Our Lady of the Rosary Shrine in Merlin, Ont., you’ll find trails dedicated to the rosary, saints, approved apparitions and the Stations of the Cross. And helping you through these trails, you’ll also find three monks from Sri Lanka — the very first of their order to come to Canada.

Since last July, Fr. Francis Jeyaseelan, Shrine director, and two other monks from Sri Lanka, Frs. Arulthas Mariyanayagam and Anthony Kamalathasan, have been living in a monastery on the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary Shrine. Members of the Rosarian Order, a contemplative order, this is their first foundation outside of India and Sri Lanka. The order was founded by Fr. Bastiampillai Anthony Thomas in 1928 in Sri Lanka.

“The Congregation of the Rosarians in their General Chapter in 2006 decided to extend their monastic and prayer apostolate to other parts of the world in order to give a witnessing life of prayer and penance,” Jeyaseelan told The Catholic Register.

The Rosarians also strive to do reparation for the sins of the world by praying before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, he said.

Father Edward (Ted) ColletonTORONTO - A hero to many in Canada's pro-life movement, Spiritan Father Edward (Ted) Colleton leaves behind a legacy of life, said Fr. Bob Cobourne, provincial superior of the Spiritans.

At 97 years old, Fr. Colleton passed away peacefully April 26 at La Salle Manor in Scarborough, Ont., where he had lived since 2007.

“He worked tirelessly for the unborn, for the pro-life movement and worked to ensure that the unborn would be protected and that life from the moment of conception to death would be sacred,” Cobourne told The Catholic Register.

Although Fr. Colleton spent the first 30 years of his priesthood as a missionary in Kenya, the most important work he did was in Canada for the rights of the unborn, said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.
TORONTO - Proposed changes to Ontario’s adoption laws will make more children in care eligible for adoption, said Dina MacPhail of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS).

“I think it can only benefit the children who are crown wards and in our care,” said MacPhail, speaking of the Building Families and Supporting Youth to be Successful Act 2011.

The changes to the Child and Family Services Act, brought forth in mid-April by Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten and still to be voted upon, include removing access orders that prevent 75 per cent of children and youth in children’s aid care from being eligible for adoption.

“You might have a child who is in a group home or a foster home and his adoption is blocked because he sees his birth parents once every year,” said MacPhail, a child protection worker in the adoption department at CCAS. “We cannot do an adoption for a child that has an access order.”
Anna Pavan, executive director of Rose of Sharon, says the ShareLife money it receives goes directly into aiding the young mothers and their children that Rose of Sharon serves. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - All the money that Rose of Sharon sees through the generosity of donors to ShareLife goes a long way in supporting young mothers and their children in York Region, said executive director Anna Pavan.

“We provide services to pre-natal and parenting teens,” Pavan, the executive director of the not-for-profit charitable organization, told The Catholic Register. “So it’s allowing us to have five counsellors, to be able to provide parenting programs to our young mothers and a child development centre where babies are cared for while the mothers are attending school or parenting programs.”

Rose of Sharon is one of the more than 30 agencies supported by ShareLife, the charitable fundraising arm of the archdiocese of Toronto.

As part of its parish campaign — with a goal of $12.3 million this year — the first ShareLife Sunday took place on April 3. The reported results added up to $4.16 million, an increase of about 10 per cent over the same reporting time last year, according to Bill Steinburg, communications manager at ShareLife.
Youth Speak News writers Annette Gagliano, left, and her sister Sarah, check out “It’s Your Vote,” a web site which gives youth all the information they need to make an informed decision on May 2.  (Photo courtesy of Annette and Sarah Gagliano)While overall voter turnout among youth may be low, that won’t be the case with The Register’s Youth Speak News team. Those who are eligible to vote plan on hitting the polls on May 2 — and with a wide array of issues guiding their votes.

When Sarah Gagliano goes to the polls on election day, her choice will be guided by her faith.

“I try to see all of the issues through a faith lens,” said Gagliano, a third-year life sciences student at the University of Toronto. “Faith should be lived out and help form our outlook on the world. Being critical of the platforms involves testing these proposals against ideas in the faith.”

Preferential option for the poor, the common good, justice, dignity and peace are some aspects of Catholic social teaching that she keeps in mind when looking at the issues that matter to her: education, health care, the environment and the economy.

For Greg Van Dyk, a second-year humanities student at the University of Victoria, job creation and a strong economy matter most to him, as he’ll be entering the work force in a few years.
In this Register file photo, Teresa Berezowski, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, stands beside the Pope John Paul II statue on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)TORONTO - From prayer vigils and film viewings to special devotions and Mass, communities — Polish and others — across the Greater Toronto Area are joining the celebration of Pope John Paul II’s May 1 beatification.

St. Maximilian Kolbe parish in Mississauga, Ont., will be holding a prayer vigil for Pope John Paul II from 8 p.m. to midnight on April 30, said Fr. Pawel Nyrek.

“We’ll finish it with Holy Mass at midnight in thanksgiving for the beatification of Pope John Paul II,” said Nyrek.

Then, on May 2, the parish will be holding another thanksgiving Mass at 6 p.m. The Polish ambassador to Canada, the consul general of Toronto and representatives of the Canadian Polish Congress will be among those in attendance. Even Stephen Harper was expected to attend, before it conflicted with election day, Nyrek said.
About 300 people wound their way through downtown Toronto April 16 in a Palm Sunday procession. (Photo by Bill Wittman) TORONTO - Barbara Kowalski usually walks through the streets of Toronto without showing outward signs of faith. But that changed on Palm Sunday.

Walking in a procession from St. Paul’s Basilica to St. Michael’s Cathedral as part of the Office of Catholic Youth’s World Youth Day Palm Sunday event on April 16, she helped to carry the World Youth Day commemorative cross down Queen Street.

“It was nice to show others that this is my religion,” said Kowalski, 23, a legal communications clerk at a law firm in Toronto.

Palm Sunday is recognized internationally as the World Day of Youth.
Elena Orrico poses with her statue of St. Rita of Cascia at her home in northwest Toronto. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)TORONTO - In 1986, Elena Orrico was asked to organize and prepare the first feast day celebrations in honour of St. Rita, the patron saint of impossible causes, at Marylake Shrine. Twenty-five years later, what she made possible is still going strong.

Devoted to St. Rita of Cascia from a young age, Orrico said she was thrilled when Augustinian Father Cyril Smetana, prior at Marylake Augustinian Monastery in King City, Ont., at the time, asked her to take on this task.

“When I read the letter, I was so happy to hear I could help to keep the St. Rita tradition here in Canada,” Orrico told The Catholic Register. “I worked with all my heart for St. Rita.”

St. Rita’s feast day is celebrated on May 22.