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.

Rwandan Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga saw 80 family members and 45,000 of his parishioners killed in the Rwandan genocide, but has been able to forgive the perpetrators. (Photo by Katsey Long)During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga lost 80 members of his family and 45,000 members of his parish. He later found the people who murdered his family and despite the pain they inflicted on him, Rugirangoga was able to forgive them for their crimes.

And then he went one step further — he paid for the education of the daughter of the man who murdered his mother. Otherwise, the girl would have had no opportunity of going to school.

Rugirangoga said he has discovered the secret of peace is through forgiveness.

And so, he set about creating the Centre for the Secret of Peace in Rwanda as part of his vocation to bring peace, reconciliation and forgiveness to the Rwandan people.

“I want to build a centre of peace because I am engaged in the peace process after the genocide in Rwanda,” Rugirangoga told The Catholic Register.

When he arrived from Germany in 1951, the then 20-year-old Heribert Michel planned to stay in Canada for three years. He wanted to get work experience as an organist and choir director and learn a new language after graduating at the top of his class from Germany’s prestigious Regensburg Academy of Church Music. His uncle, a priest, expected him back in Germany to be the new organist and choir director when reconstruction of their parish, destroyed during the Second World War, was complete.

So much for those plans. Sixty years later, Michel remains in Canada. After meeting his wife, Suzanne, he chose to stay, settling in Peterborough, Ont., where the couple raised four children and now have 10 grandchildren.

The diocese of Peterborough is celebrating Michel’s six decades of service through his music ministry. On May 21, an anniversary Mass was to be held at St. Peter-in-Chains Cathedral, officiated by Bishop Nicola De Angelis, with a reception to follow. Among the special guests expected are MP Dean Del Mastro, MPP Jeff Leal, papal knights and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus.

TORONTO - Coinciding with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the downtown Toronto chapter of the Serra Club will be holding its fifth annual vocations fair May 14-15.

“It’s an opportunity to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life and to affirm those who have responded to this call,” said Zinnia Milburn, the club’s vice-president of vocations and vocations fair co-ordinator.

Different religious orders such as the Loretto Sisters and the Capuchin Friars will have booths set up to talk about the good work they do. As well, various Catholic lay organizations such as the Focolare and World Marriage Encounter will also be participating.

Taking place at St. Augustine of Canterbury parish in Toronto, this year’s theme is “Bring the light that shines to the world.”

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.