If God truly has a sense of humour, He would probably enjoy reading the Tomics Collection book by Tom Gould.

Tomics are weekly “religious funnies” published by The Catholic Fellows, a lay ministry that fosters men’s spiritual fellowship. Every Friday, their website features a new comic strip inspired by Scripture readings, lives of the saints or Catholic teaching.

Published in Book News

TORONTO - Fr. Michael Doyle, a Spiritan priest who served around the world but called Toronto home, has died. He was 82.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Swimming is fun. So why not do it 22 to 26 hours in 16-to-20-degree water with jellyfish, possible high winds and ocean tides pulling you in various directions? Not every 58-year-old psychiatrist is crazy enough to try it.

Published in Canada

TORONTO - The Street Patrol ministry not only feeds the homeless, it feeds the souls of those in service.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

“What are you doing in this bad part of the city?”

I looked around and saw a young man bent over and out of breath, his rollerblade wheels still spinning in the dark of the evening.

He had seen my clerical collar.  The “bad part of the city” he referred to is a Toronto neighbourhood known as “the track,” where prostitution is open and drugs are barely concealed.

Published in Guest Columns

WASHINGTON - Arriving in the Philippines from Ireland in 1969 as a young missionary priest, Columban Father Shay Cullen hardly expected he'd end up fighting a burgeoning sex industry.

Published in International

In Sr. Anna Chan’s earlier career in retail management, she sought happiness through a love of fine clothes, shoes and bags.

“I was looking for happiness,” said Chan, “but I was looking in the wrong place.”

Published in Call to Service

ATHLONE, Ireland - The Catholic Church is "no longer a safe haven for child abusers," said a top priest psychologist who advises the U.S. bishops on child sexual abuse.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - The leaders of the world's bishops' conferences and religious orders must ensure they are doing everything possible to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse and are offering appropriate care for victims and their families, Pope Francis said.

Published in Vatican

Msgr. Sam Bianco — born as the Great Depression ended and his father went off to war, raised in the postwar boom, ordained in that first decade after the Second Vatican Council — had a 45-year career in ministry. 

Published in Estate Planning

College students in Toronto are turning to local universities for what’s lacking on their own school campuses — Catholic chaplaincies. 

Published in Youth Speak News

Women at Carmelina Home find joy in the 
experience

Every Wednesday night, Deacon Philip Allard drives through rush-hour traffic across Toronto to Carmelina Home, a long-term care residential program run by the Passionist Sisters for women recovering from addiction, substance abuse and emotional issues.

Allard takes with him his guitar.

A social worker by trade and a folk musician by hobby, Allard joined the diaconate 12 years ago and has held a ministry position at Carmelina Home for seven years, playing his guitar and leading a sing-song with the women who live there.
Before that, he dabbled in ministry work at a hospital and at Providence Centre, but found those placements to be too similar to his profession.

“I was looking for a unique and different experience,” Allard said.

Allard admits he didn’t know what a deacon was before he looked into becoming one himself. He did, however, feel compelled to do more.

And his ministry at Carmelina Home has turned out to be the perfect fit for Allard, who on top of playing the guitar has performed in community theatre, even playing lead roles in several Gilbert and Sullivan musicals.

“I didn’t go there with any specific agenda,” Allard said of how his ministry at Carmelina Home came to be one of music.

“I thought music would be nice, (and) they really took to (it). I’m building my repertoire and having a lot of fun.”

Carmelina Home boasts a strict and intensive two-year program, so Allard tries to keep Wednesday evenings light and enjoyable. The songs are not strictly religious, though Allard said he tries to pick ones with uplifting and positive spiritual messages.

One crowd favourite is “Lean on Me.”

“It’s not a religious song, but it’s very inspiring and encouraging.”

But he said the most encouraging songs of all are ones that involve everyone.

“Musically, it’s always nice when you’re including other people,” Allard said. “Some of the women really like to sing so it gives me an opportunity to throw in a couple harmonies.”

For Allard, one of his best experiences at Carmelina Home is singing with the women for their annual gala several years ago.

“All the women there really wanted an opportunity to sing, with me leading the song,” Allard said. “Just the excitement in the home the weeks leading up to that, that’s probably the most memorable.

“It seemed to be a very happy time for the women, to share joy in that experience.”

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Published in Music News

FORISTELL, Mo. - Deacon Richard Seveska hears all kinds of stories at his local truck stop, but he fondly remembers one particularly appreciative driver.

“I had a trucker one night say, ‘Rich, this is not a meeting of two people,” Seveska said. “It’s a meeting of two souls.’ ” 

Seveska’s passion the last dozen years has been his truck-stop ministry. The deacon spends evenings saying hello to truckers, identifying himself as a chaplain and looking for people who may want to talk.

Published in Vatican

Markham, Ont. - One teenager doesn’t attend Mass regularly because he finds it boring. Another prefers sleeping in on Sunday. Whatever the excuse for skipping Mass, we’ve heard it before. But some parishes in Toronto are offering a solution: youth Masses.

Grade 12 student Isaac Peiris attends youth mass because it speak to issues he’s experiencing while avoiding the generation gap sometimes found at traditional Masses.

Published in Youth Speak News
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