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 - John Marcus “Tomi” Asenuga believes the talents we have should be used to spread goodwill amongst our neighbours — and help the Church.

TORONTO - Can a wound be beautiful? According to the late priest and Catholic writer Henri Nouwen, it can.

TORONTO - Former priest Peter Doherty is happy a fellow Argentine was elevated to the papacy. But he’s even happier knowing the Church is in the good hands of the man who ordained him.

BRAMPTON, ONT. - The two men who will be ordained priests in the archdiocese of Toronto this spring were honoured at the annual Ordinandi Dinner March 5 at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, where they shared the stories of how they were called to the priesthood.

TORONTO - Dr. Stephen Hwang has been appointed the first endowed Chair of Homelessness, Housing and Health at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Each year thousands of high school students seek the next step in their educational journey — and there are plenty of options.

TORONTO - In the campus ministry context, every year is the Year of Faith, said Josh Canning.

MARKHAM, ONT. - The newly formed Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada are moving forward with a direction statement reflecting the unified congregation.

TORONTO - Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholic community may be modest in size but its members are reacting with immense pride to the elevation of its first cardinal.

Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was to be among eight prelates elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict on Nov. 24. He is the first cardinal ever selected from the India-based Syro-Malankara Church.

For the 250-member Syro- Malankara congregation of Toronto, the unexpected honour is cause for celebration.

“I’m really, really thrilled for this recognition because the universal Church is recognizing our Church as a deeper part of communion,” said Sebin Alexander, 24, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Mission in Toronto.

The elevation of the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church puts the entire world congregation of approximately 500,000 members into the limelight, said Fr. John Kuriakose, pastor at St. Mary’s.

“Hopefully, since he received this elevation, it will put (the new cardinal) in a better position to work towards the unification of the Church,” Kuriakose said.

A handful of parishioners from St. Mary’s went to Rome for the elevation ceremony, where they expected to meet up with about 80 members of the faith from across North America. There is a second Canadian mission in Edmonton and approximately 10 congregations scattered across the United States, Kuriakose said.

The Syro-Malankara Church was founded in India by St. Thomas the Apostle in AD 52. In its long history it has experienced schisms and a break with Rome. Full communion for the Syro- Malankara Church with Rome was re-established in 1930.

Church members are hopeful that Thottunkal’s elevation to cardinal will help bring unification to the many branches of India’s Christian churches.

“Since this happened, it is with great hope we can extend our hands to our brothers in the Orthodox community, in the Jacobite community,” Alexander said, referring to the many splits in the Indian Church. “We can have more of an ecumenical movement to bring them back to the Church.

“It’s also a reminder of my responsibility as a youth to really understand the call of the evangelization in this culture and to have a greater dedication to the Church.”

Francis Thazhamon was to join the pilgrims in Rome.

“This is something he (Thottunkal) deserves and the universal Church is moving in the right direction realizing the need of the Church at this time,” said Thazhamon.

Thottunkal, 53, is one of six new cardinals being created by the Pope. They hail from six different countries and, in a rare twist, none are European. They are U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, 63, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, 72, Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68, Colombian

Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70, and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55.

MARKHAM, ONT. - After a four-year process, and the amalgamation of four congregations, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada have emerged.

“We have shifted in our identity from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton, London, Peterborough and Pembroke and now we are the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada,” said Sr. Margo Ritchie, speaking via telephone from the order’s chapter in Markham, Ont., which ran from Nov. 18-24.

“Together, we feel that we can engage the crucial issues in a way that transforms us and the systems in our world and we could perhaps have a larger voice.”

The move actually brings the Sisters of St. Joseph closer to their origins, when there was only one congregation.

“So it’s a natural impulse for becoming one again. But there was an emerging energy in all of us to do something new and we felt we could be that better together.”

Ritchie believes the change will expand the sisters’ consciousness of who they are.

“And some of us may make choices to move if there is a particular job opening in another neighbourhood.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and of Sault Ste. Marie were also a part of the four-year process but decided it was best for them to not take part in the amalgamation at this time.

That said, “All the congregations will continue to work together,” said Ritchie.

With approximately 300 sisters in the newly formed congregation, 137 sisters were in attendance at the chapter.

“People were very eager to be part of this new moment.”

At press time, the chapter had only undergone its initial two days which began exploring the direction the unified sisters will head in for the next four years. The “coalescing of various voices” discussed ecological justice, the growing disparity between the rich and the poor and indigenous rights, said Ritchie.

Sr. Sue Wilson said the conversation focused on the interconnected nature of the sisters’ lives.

“No matter what issue we try to take hold of — whether it’s poverty or environmental damage — you start to see how the issue is connected with our social systems, our economic systems, our political systems and environmental systems,” said Wilson. “So given the interconnected nature, we really see a lot of value in contemplative practice to get at that level of interconnection.”

Through this, the sisters will be better able to see root causes of injustice and how to bring about systemic change, she added.

Sr. Joyce Murray said the discussion tried to better understand what the needs of today mean for the ministry and mission of the sisters.

“We have always tried to respond to the needs around us at the moment and have always been conscious of currents in our world,” said Murray.

One of the objectives of the chapter is to formulate a new direction statement, said Ritchie.

“We’re really clear we don’t want a nice statement that gets framed and put on a wall,” she said. “We want to challenge ourselves.”

Ritchie, who held the position of congregational leader for the Sisters of St. Joseph of London as of press time, said the congregational leadership circle of five women was to be elected during the chapter, after The Register’s press time.