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.

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.
Lisa and Roy Fernandes, along with children Chantelle and Mark, picking up the chalice at the start of their week at St. Patrick’s parish in Markham, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Fran and Baby Pulumbarit)MARKHAM, Ont. - The Serra Club of Markham and Scarborough has kicked off a travelling vocations chalice program aiming to shine the light on vocations.

“The one and only mandate is for families to pray for the vocation to the priesthood and religious life,” said Fran Pulumbarit, chairperson of the travelling vocations chalice program and vice-president of vocations of the Serra Club of Markham and Scarborough.

There will be two chalices involved in the program, which will serve as a reminder for families to pray for vocations. The first has been passed among families at St. Patrick’s parish in Markham since April 3.

The second chalice begins circulating at St. Barnabas parish in Scarborough next month.
Sr. Clare Garcillano was in Toronto in early April to tell the story of the Justice and Peace Commission in East Timor. The commission is one of Development and Peace’s international partners. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)TORONTO - By giving a voice to the voiceless, Sr. Clare Garcillano is helping build a culture of peace, gender equality and solidarity in East Timor as acting director of the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC).

On April 4, Garcillano, a missionary sister with the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, told the commission’s story, delivering a talk at the Paulist Centre in Toronto.

Visiting Canada at the invitation of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which has partnered with the JPC, Garcillano has been working and living in East Timor for the last five years. East Timor only gained independence in 2002 after 500 years of colonization and foreign occupation, first by Portugal and then by neighbouring Indonesia. The small island nation is 96.5 per cent Catholic.

The JPC was established in 1995 by Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo in the diocese of Dili with the support of Development and Peace, as a result of a conversation between the bishop and Jess Agustin, regional director of Development and Peace in Asia. It was created solely to promote the rights and dignity of every person and was set up at a time when human rights abuses were rampant as a result of the Indonesian occupation.
The diocese of Peterborough’s seventh annual Way of the Cross will take place on Good Friday. Above, an actor portraying Jesus carries the Cross surrounded by Roman soldiers during a previous walk.Peterborough, Ont. - The faith of Catholic youth in Peterborough, Ont., will be out in the open during Good Friday’s seventh annual Way of the Cross on April 22 with a re-enactment of Christ’s Passion.

“It’s a way of evangelizing in a unique way,” said Mary Helen Moes, program manager for youth for the diocese of Peterborough and director of this year’s re-enactment.

“They’re certainly not pushing their faith on top of anybody. They’re just demonstrating their faith in a very public way and I don’t think there’s many opportunities for that any more.”

Run by the diocese of Peterborough’s Vocations, Evangelization and Youth Office, the Way of the Cross has about 100 youth participating this year, up from the 30 participants of seven years ago when it originated, said Moes.
London Bishop Ronald Fabbro discusses Confession: A Roman Catholic App with Shelley Isabelle. The diocese was to give out 500 copies of the app as part of its April 6 Confession campaign. (Photo by Mark Adkinson)When the diocese of London says their doors are always open, they’re not kidding. At least that was the case on April 6 when more than 120 parishes across Southwestern Ontario participated in the dioceses Confession Campaign.

“It’s an invitation to people that the doors are open for them to come back to the sacrament of Confession,” London Bishop Ronald Fabbro told The Catholic Register.

The campaign was modelled after the “Light is On for You” campaign that originated in the archdiocese of Washington and has since spread across the United States, said Mark Adkinson, director of communications for the London diocese.

The American campaign runs Confessions on a particular day for a couple hours every week throughout Lent.