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.

OSHAWA, Ont. - While some youth raise funds at their parish by having bake sales or car washes, the youth in St. Gertrude’s Life Teen Band decided to do something a little different: they recorded a CD.

And on June 4, the band celebrated the launch of Sing with a Joyful Heart with a concert at St. Gertrude’s parish in Oshawa. All funds raised from the concert and CD sales will support the parish’s new Edge and Life Teen programs, parish-based youth ministry programs designed to help youth learn more about their Catholic faith and develop a deeper relationship with God.

“We hope this CD stays with the band members as they leave high school, get further education  and eventually enter the work force, get married or enter religious life,” said Eamonn Doyle, band leader. “And hopefully the CD will act as a reminder of how their faith grew during the process of making this.”

The CD is made up of 14 songs — with half sung by the entire group and the other half sung by soloists.

TORONTO - The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars is seeking scholarly papers to be discussed for its annual conference this October.

Six of the scholastic works will be chosen for discussion at the conference to be held in Toronto. The theme for the Oct. 15 conference is “The Catholic Mind and the Prophetic Voice of the Arts.” The scholars’ group is looking for papers that delve into topics such as the vocation of the artist, the relation between imagination and artistic production, culture as a part of evangelization and esthetic pleasure.

“Generally speaking, it’s a critical engagement and dialogue with society, in this case, with respect to the arts,” said Andrew Fuyarchuk, a member of the fellowship’s executive.

Fr. Giorgio Di Cicco, former Poet Laureate of the City of Toronto, will be keynote speaker.Already, the conference has a good slate of speakers, but more submissions are needed. Proposals will be accepted until the end of June. And you don’t have to be a member of the fellowship to submit a paper.

TORONTO - Tiffany Harrington spearheaded a school initiative to send sleeping mats made out of plastic milk bags to orphans in Haiti. Her efforts saw 12,000 milk bags — and counting — collected, which are then crocheted into the mats.

This community spirit helped Harrington, a Grade 12 student at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in Oshawa, Ont., win one of 20 TD Bank Scholarships for Community Leadership. Harrington, Miranda Dela Cruz, a Grade 12 student at Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, and Wei-En Wong, a Grade 12 student from St. Robert Catholic High School in Thornhill, are the only winners from Toronto-area Catholic schools.  

Each of the 20 scholarships is valued at up to $70,000, which includes up to $10,000 per year for tuition to a post-secondary institute in Canada and up to $7,500 for living expenses and books. In addition, winners are also offered guaranteed summer employment with TD over their four years of school.

The diocese of Peterborough and Trent University have signed a memorandum of understanding to help further discussions and set guidelines in establishing the future Sacred Heart College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Peterborough.

"It's important that now after a couple of years of discussion with Trent that we've entered into an understanding whereby both the future Sacred Heart College and Trent University are going to co-operate on establishing a relationship that will allow us to grant credit for courses," said Fr. Joseph Devereaux, chancellor of the Peterborough diocese, of the future university college which will be located in the basement of Sacred Heart parish.

The memorandum says that the college and Trent agree to "work together to explore the potential for delivery of distinctive and complementary educational opportunities," such as transfer credit recognition and degree completion pathways.

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.