When the suitcase from Not Just Tourists arrived in northern Ghana, it was like Christmas for the local clinic doctor.

Published in Call to Service

After being closed for more than a decade, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration north of Toronto has quietly re-opened its doors.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO – Two of the province’s youngest computer programmers have completed a game they hope will make Christianity cool in the eyes of their peers. 

Published in Education

TORONTO - It is most fitting that the Archdiocese of Toronto welcomed its two newest priests during the celebration of the Eucharist, said Cardinal Thomas Collins.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

MARKHAM, ONT. - Fr. Francis Chong admits he was nervous about asking his parishioners for $490,000. Today he is delighted at how his prayers were answered to the tune of $1.5 million — and counting.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

MARKHAM, ONT. - A new youth study group aims to help young Catholics find answers to their questions about faith.

The Salesian Sisters are inviting Toronto-area youth age 15 to 35 to study the youth catechism from October to July. Sr. Corazon Beboso will be running the program at the Don Bosco Centre in Markham.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is more for adults, for bishops, for priests,” said Beboso, who calls it “very theological.” In contrast, the YouCat, or youth catechism, targets youth to deepen their faith.

Pope Benedict XVI presented the YouCat as a gift to World Youth Day 2011 pilgrims in Madrid, Spain.

“The YouCat study group is not a training program. It’s not a prayer group,” she said. “It is a young adult-led discussion sharing session wherein they come, they bring their questions, they bring whatever impact the world has on them... (and) they place it at the table for discussion depending on the topic that we have chosen.”

But Beboso promises prayer will be incorporated.

“There’s a bit of fun too because we have to make use of the things that are happening around, and then afterwards we pray, we stop and say what does the catechism say?” she said.

The study group is an offshoot of a discernment program that started last year. Called Duc in Altum (put out into the deep), the title is based on Luke 5:4-11, which refers to going farther to catch fish.

“So for us the fish that we want to catch with these young adults is know yourself, know your relationship with God, know your faith, know the Church and what the Church expects from you,” Beboso said.

After the discernment program, the participants wanted to know what was next.

“I said why don’t we make this study group as a response to the invitation of the Holy Father to make 2012-2013 the Year of Faith.” And so the YouCat study group was developed.

Beboso hopes the program will help participants figure out “how our quest for the truth is wrapped in the language of young people’s experiences today.”

Registration is $30 for the entire program. The price includes a copy of the YouCat and the balance is a participant’s contribution to the program. But those who come with their own print or e-book copies are asked to make a small donation. Currently, salesiansisterscanada.com lists 19 sessions at about two sessions a month, the first of which was held on Oct. 1.

Beboso believes youth are attracted to this type of group not only because they are looking for precise answers to the questions they have about the faith.

“They’re also attracted because there are other young people who are searching like them,” she said. “They don’t have the language... to express the faith. They know mentally because many of them are cradle Catholics... So they want to study together with others.”

Published in Youth Speak News

MARKHAM, ONT. - Markham's 140-year journey from village to city has taken the Toronto suburb from near perfect uniformity of German Lutheran farmers lured north from Pennsylvania to a religious mosaic that includes a mosque and synagogue that share the same parking lot.

Canada's newest city of more than 300,000 on the northeast shoulder of Toronto celebrated its religious diversity with a visit from Cardinal Thomas Collins July 17.

"We're the most diverse city in Canada," declared Mayor Frank Scarpitti before presenting Collins with a commemorative scroll. Collins also presented Scarpitti with a framed message of encouragement.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

MARKHAM, ONT. - A York Region school will soon have more reason to sing and dance as construction on a new arts building nears completion.  

St. Michael Catholic Academy in Markham, Ont., should be ready for a September opening. St. Michael’s is the only elementary school in York Region with a special focus on the arts: instrumental music, dance, drama and visual arts. Students in Grades 4 to 8 get special instruction on these subjects every day, in addition to the regular academic classes. When students return in September, they will be returning to a building with specialized facilities. Currently they are in a typical school building, without the facilities to cater to an advanced arts program.

Published in Education

Joey Loi is passionate about poverty and education. These issues mattered so much that he started the non-profit organization Turn the Page, which aims to support education initiatives in developing nations.

“I do as much as I can to make a difference in the community because I know I’m a very privileged person,” said Loi, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Vietnam about 20 years ago. “And I see how easily my life could have been different if they didn’t make the sacrifices they did,” said the Grade 12 student at St. Brother André Catholic High School in Markham, Ont.

Published in Youth Speak News