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.

Heading to St. Patrick’s Catholic Street Patrol, I was apprehensive.  

The premise of the weekly event is to hand out sandwiches, drinks and snacks to the homeless on the streets of downtown Toronto during the hot summer months.

But the idea isn’t to give some food and move on. It’s to engage the homeless and to offer friendship to those on the outskirts of society.

With whole wheat turkey and mozzarella sandwiches in tow, I joined the group walking to Nathan Phillips Square. Just before reaching our destination, our group leader spotted two men she thought might want a sandwich.

I hung back at first, then joined the group.

A friend and I chatted with Bill for about 10 minutes. He talked about how he worked on the Rogers Centre when it was built (called the SkyDome back then) and how his father just had a big operation.

He told us he’d be going in to the hospital for surgery soon, but he was nervous because he didn’t want to be worked on by the med students.

Bill didn’t want a sandwich, he had just come from the Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program at Osgoode Hall.

As the organizers had told us, many people on the street just want some company. It’s still nourishment, just a different type.

As we entered the main area at Nathan Phillips Square, we encountered a group of about 10 homeless people gathered close together, made up of both men and women.

After giving out one sandwich, others started approaching me asking if they could have one, too. I asked others in the group if they wanted one as well and ran out of sandwiches.

I thought it was going to be an uncomfortable experience, but it wasn’t.

It was just people interacting with other people. I think that’s the best lesson of all. We’re all just fellow members of humanity and regardless of the amount of money to our name, both giving and receiving dignity and respect are priceless. Sure, recipients of Street Patrol gain. But, whether they realize it or not, so do the participants.

Going home that night, I opened the fridge to make a sandwich.

Seeing a variety of cold cuts to choose from, it felt like absolute abundance.

Fittingly enough, my father shared a page from a book he tore out while doing some stonework on an old factory earlier that day. It was a list titled, “Rules for Being Human.”

Bullet two resonated with me: “You are enrolled in full-time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant.”

The last statement read, “You will forget this.”

I’ll try my best not to forget what I learned at Street Patrol. And if I do, I can always go back next week.

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — During Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick's July 25 ordination, significant figures in his life raced through his mind.

"I was thinking of my parents," he told The Catholic Register, after becoming the newest auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Toronto. "I was thinking of Bishop Thomas Fulton who ordained me."

He was also thinking about the years he spent at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria in St. Catharines, where the ordination took place.

"I've been here for 14 years altogether and I was ordained here."

Kirkpatrick said his new ministry is going to be a greater responsibility.

"Definitely in the laying on of hands, I could feel that responsibility coming upon me."

Born in St. Catharines on June 5, 1957, Kirkpatrick studied at St. Jerome's College at the University of Waterloo, earning a bachelor of arts in philosophy before entering St. Augustine's Seminary in 1980 where he completed a masters of divinity before being ordained to the priesthood in 1984. He also studied at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, where he earned a Licentiate (masters) of canon law in 1990.

The move to the archdiocese of Toronto is going to be difficult, Kirkpatrick acknowledged.

"It's always difficult to uproot but I think life is a series of uprootings," said Kirkpatrick. "This is a big one but certainly one that with the prayers and support of the people of St. Catharines and Toronto, I'll be able to make that."

As auxiliary bishop, Kirkpatrick will oversee care of the pastoral needs of the northern pastoral region of the archdiocese of Toronto. He has also been appointed as episcopal vicar for religious institutes of men and women in the archdiocese and episcopal vicar for the francophone community. As well, he is now titular bishop of Aradi.

St. Catharines' Bishop Gerard Bergie called the ceremony both beautiful and moving.

"I can't help but feel pride, not a sinful pride, but pride in that the diocese has provided a wonderful ceremony and provided a wonderful priest to the archdiocese of Toronto," said Bergie.

Kirkpatrick will be greatly missed, said Bergie, who has worked with the new bishop since arriving in the diocese in November 2010.

"We started in the seminary together so I've known him for many years. When I was new to the diocese, he was a great help to me and always there for me, very supportive, very knowledgable, so I'll always be indebted.

"Truly, Toronto's gain is our loss," he added.

Laurier LePage, a senior server at the Cathedral for the past 28 years, grew up in the same area in St. Catharines as Kirkpatrick and the two were schoolmates.

"As he became a priest in St. Catharines, I started to see him again… I was glad to see him come back. It was great. It was like old times together again."

Deborah LePage, Laurier's wife, lived two houses down from the Kirkpatricks.

"From seeing him play cowboys and Indians in the backyard, then to a priest, then to a monsignor and now, this is unreal. It's really unreal.

"It just makes my heart throb," she said. "I was in tears."

Thomas Brown, 40, a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, has known Kirkpatrick for about 15 years.

"I'm just so happy for him to become a bishop," he said, adding that he'll miss him very much.

During the homily, Cardinal Thomas Collins said people's lives are touched by the ministry of an apostle of the Lord.

"As bishops, we need to work hard to be spiritually fruitful," he told the packed cathedral.

Mentioning courageous saints such as Francis de Sales, Charles Borromeo and John Fisher, Collins described various challenges they faced such as evangelizing a society that had fallen away from the faith.

"The challenge is great but we have mighty heroes," he said.

The episcopal motto chosen by Kirkpatrick is "Abide in me," said Collins.

"And these words guide all of us as disciples," he said.

After the ordination, Kirkpatrick was absorbing the events of the day, which took place on the feast of St. James.

"I'm the kind of person that reflects upon all that's taken place so as the day wears on and tomorrow I'll be thinking more about what's taken place."


Investiture with ring, miter and pastoral staff

The Ring

The first insignia to be received by the bishop during the rites of ordination is the ring. Upon handing over to the newly ordained bishop the ring, the principal ordaining bishop says, "Take this ring, the seal of your fidelity. With faith and love, protect the bride of God, His holy Church." The ring symbolizes discretion, since rings were used to seal private documents and the ring represents the symbolic marriage between the bishop and the Church.

The Miter

The next insignia which is given to the newly ordained bishop during the rites of ordination is the miter. The miter is a headdress which points upwards towards heaven. It is a mark of the bishops' office and a symbol of their authority.

The Crozier (also called the pastoral staff)

The last symbol given to the newly ordained bishop is the crozier. The principal ordaining bishop says, "Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office: Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God." Each bishop is a symbol of Christ the Good Shepherd. The crozier also symbolizes the responsibility that the bishop has in leading all to Christ.

TORONTO - Lorraine McCallum was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, just days after the birth of her third daughter in 2009.

A stem cell recipient, McCallum shared the story of using her own stem cells for treatment at the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research's Café Scientifique, exploring the realities and ethical questions raised by stem cell research. The event was sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

"I'm not entirely sure why it works, but it does," she told the audience of about 100 gathered at Toronto's Fox and Fiddle pub July 3. "With multiple myeloma, they don't really know where it starts in the body or what triggers it but stem cell transplants are standard  treatment… and it is effective at least for a while in holding the cancer at bay."

TORONTO - When injustice becomes visible, it becomes intolerable, pro-life activist Jonathon Van Muren told an audience of about 150 spectators at the New Abortion Caravan's Toronto stop June 28.

"Great injustices have been conquered before," Van Muren told the crowd gathered at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Toronto's west end. He compared the fight to end abortion to the battles against slavery, child labour and segregation.

The People’s Summit in Rio de Janeiro provided a space for people from all over the world to exchange ideas, tell their stories, form alliances and share their hopes for the future, including nine women representing the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

From June 15-23, the young women — all under 30 — from the D&P delegation brought the Canadian voice to the ecologically themed workshops and presentations.

TORONTO - In building upon the good work that past directors of the Office of Catholic Youth have accomplished, two new positions will be added to the archdiocese of Toronto’s youth office, said director Fr. Frank Portelli.

He’s currently on the hunt for a new associate director for youth and an associate director for young adults. The roles will target youth in Grades 6 to 12 and those aged 18 to 35, respectively.

TORONTO - More low-income people are using parts of the health care system that are under the most stress, including the emergency departments and mental health services, a recent study from Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital has found.

“Mental health is very common in our society and we have very little outpatient care and very little community care relative to what’s actually needed for the population,” said Dr. Rick Glazier, one of the lead authors of the study. 

For Fr. Robert Galea, music is the language of the heart.

“And what better way to preach the Gospel than through the language of the heart?” asks the 30-year-old Maltese singer, songwriter and priest serving in Shepparton, Australia.

Sponsored by Salt + Light Television in collaboration with dioceses across Canada, Galea will be on tour in Canada in early July with stops planned in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Specific dates were not yet confirmed by press time.

TORONTO - Liezl Mejia believes everything happens for a reason. She feels it’s important to have faith and always believe God is there for you. And this is the message Mejia, who plays the main character Mary in St. Joseph Secondary School’s musical Waiting for God, hopes audiences will walk away with.

“I’m blessed to have this opportunity because it made me feel that I was a living testimony to God’s existence,” says Mejia, whose character is literally waiting for God to show up at a bus stop after her fiancé dies of cancer. During her wait, she encounters a variety of characters.

As the New Abortion Caravan makes its way across Canada, it has drawn a variety of reactions.

One of the most aggressive shows of disapproval came when a pregnant team member was egged, said Stephanie Gray. And in Winnipeg, a group of about 30 protesters gathered outside Living Christ Community Church, where the members were presenting, beating on pots and pans.