As flames engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral, threatening to destroy a Paris treasure that for 850 years withstood revolutions, wars and natural disasters, dazed crowds formed impromptu vigils on nearby streets. They prayed, they cried, they sang Ave Maria’s.

Published in Editorial

Blending the medieval with the contemporary in the rebuild of Notre-Dame Cathedral will be daunting, said the lead architect on the restoration of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - After the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris April 15, Romans and tourists could not help looking at St. Peter's Basilica and wondering, "what if?"

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - As people in Paris and around the world watched in horror as flames consumed the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, the blaze also stirred genuine emotions that could come only from witnessing the loss of beauty, art historian Elizabeth Lev said.

Published in International

In one of the darkest hours for the “City of Light,” the Catholic Church in Canada has united in prayer and solidarity with Paris as it watched one of its grandest treasures engulfed in a raging inferno.

Published in Canada

Updated 04/15/2019

PARIS - A major blaze engulfed the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral April 15, sending pillars of flame and billowing smoke over the center of the French capital.

Published in International
SOUTH BEND, Ind., – The University of Notre Dame has rescinded the honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree it conferred on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2008, becoming the latest of a growing number of schools who have rescinded honorary degrees from the defrocked former archbishop.
Published in International

PARIS, France – A man was shot after an apparent hammer attack on police officers at Paris police headquarters next to the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Tuesday.

Published in International

MONTREAL - Notre Dame Sister Gilberte Bussiere, 76, was kidnapped in the middle of the night in April 2014, in Tchere, a small hamlet in northern Cameroon.

Published in Canada

HAMILTON, ONT. - At Hamilton’s St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, members of the senior soccer teams are learning more than just tactics, strategy and skills specific to their sport; they’re learning how faith contributes to their game.

Published in Catholic Education

The ranks of the priest-columnists are not few, but we are one fewer with the death of Fr. Richard McBrien on Jan. 26. He had both great longevity — more than four decades of syndicated weekly columns, with his home at the National Catholic Reporter — and great influence. In the 1980s, he was the go-to source for Catholic stories. The chairman of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame, he appeared constantly in the leading American newspapers and on television, an influence that extended into Canada.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza

WASHINGTON - As Notre Dame prepared to play Alabama Jan. 7 in U.S. college football's Bowl Championship Series title game, it seemed like the clash of the titans.

Published in International

TORONTO - When Angela Farrell was unsure about a career change, she turned for guidance to the sisters at the Notre Dame convent in Toronto.

“I think of the convent as the North Star,” she said. “This is the true north and you orient from there.”

So she is saddened now to learn that her North Star will soon be dark. After 60 years, the convent on Kingston Road in Toronto’s east end is closing.

The packing has already begun and the nuns, several in their 80s, are to all be moved by next August, although the date is not set in stone, says Sr. Eileen Power. She is clear the sisters are not leaving Toronto, but will cease to live in community as they move to other locations in the city.

“We have been engaged in a process of long-term planning for some time now in our congregation and in our province and many other communities are doing this too,” said Power, the local house leader. “The location is no longer meeting our housing needs.”

The convent and property will be sold but Power said she has no idea who the buyer will be.

“Only God knows that right now,” she said.

The convent has housed up to 20 people but is currently home to just 11 sisters, some of whom have lived there more than 40 years. The youngest is in her early 40s but most are retired. There are about two dozen Notre Dame sisters living in Toronto, said Power.

“The sisters here are looking to the future with hope and courage and they are hearing God’s call in this,” she said.

When Farrell was growing up in the neighbourhood, the convent was a much busier place. The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame provided teachers for many east-end Catholic schools and, in 1941, founded Notre Dame High School, which still operates nearby the convent. Farrell almost always lived close to the sisters. A graduate of Notre Dame, she has taught religion and belonged to the chaplaincy team at the school the past 12 years.

“My whole growing up was shaped by the presence of the sisters and there was always a sense of structure and security in knowing they were there,” she said.

The order has been in Toronto for 80 years. The first nuns arrived in 1932 at the invitation of Archbishop Neil McNeil to bolster Toronto’s Catholic teaching community, originally settling in a convent near St. Brigid’s Church. Over the years, the sisters taught in more than 20 elementary schools and several high schools. They’ve also been active in parishes through outreach to the poor, catechetics, retreats and social justice initiatives.

As their numbers increased, and after Notre Dame High School was built, the sisters obtained a plot of land near the school for a convent. It has been occupied since 1952 but, with vocations in dramatic decline, some difficult decisions were required.

“I think most families experience this,” Power said. “The kids grow up and move away and three or four bedrooms are empty and the parents say, ‘We need to do something now.’ We don’t have a lot of younger people at the moment here in Toronto.”

Power said it is important that the order prudently manage its resources.

“We pool our resources as sisters and then we support people who are doing other ministries,” she said, highlighting activities for social justice in Central America, Africa, Japan, France, the United States, as well as across Canada.

Nancy Devitt-Tremblay, a Notre Dame graduate (class of 1974), says the sisters gave the incredible gift of education to her mother’s generation.

“My mother grew up in an inner-city parish at a time when her brothers didn’t go to high school,” said Devitt-Tremblay, a teacher at Senator O’Connor College School. “If Notre Dame hadn’t opened, she probably wouldn’t have had a high school education.”

Ursula Thomson was a part of that generation. One of 16 members of the first graduating class in 1944, she keeps in touch with Notre Dame nuns almost 70 years later. She is grateful for the kindness, intelligence and devotion of the sisters.

The relocation process for the 11 nuns still in the convent will be co-ordinated between the leadership and administrative team in Halifax, Power said.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA