Get Flash to see
Children are an important part of the Church family. The basis for having separate ministry programs for children is that they have specific needs. Kids learn differently than adults and typically have shorter attention spans. Therefore, priests, pastoral associates and teachers across the Edmonton Archdiocese turn to Sunday school, children's liturgies, teaching Masses and other child-specific programs in an effort to meet the unique needs of their younger parishioners. At Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove/Stony Plain, children's liturgy draws about 30 to 60 children at each of the three weekend Masses. "The benefit to the kids coming in here for children's liturgy as opposed to sitting out there at the regular Mass is that they're hearing the same thing but they're hearing it at their own level," said Sheila Rossi, the parish's children's liturgy coordinator.
Read More »
Christians are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation, said Paulist Father Thomas Ryan and Episcopal Canon William Derby, mission leaders for the 25th annual Strathcona County Ecumenical Mission. The pair took turns giving the sermon at an evening service at Sherwood Park United Church Oct. 6. Christians have a ministry of reconciliation that begins in our inner lives and spreads to family, friends, colleagues, Church and the world, they said.
Imagine being a pastor who walks into a parish and quickly realizes not only are there too many empty pews but the parishioners who are there are not present. Yes, their physical beings are there but their spiritual reason – coming to be with Jesus – is sadly absent. Church is just a habit. They know they are expected to be there. So they are. They go through the service by rote, half listen (maybe) to the homily and readings, and duck out after receiving Jesus's blood from the chalice. Why wait to sing the closing hymn? If they time it right, they can be among the first out of the parking lot and in time for the football game on TV. That's the scenario – among others – that hit Father James Mallon when he was assigned from 2004 to 2010 to a Maritime parish where "nothing new had really taken place for 30 years."
Debate over the usefulness and wisdom of a bombing campaign against the Islamic State has Christians re-examining the criteria for a just war – and coming up with different answers. An air campaign against terrorists in control of parts of Syria and Iraq won't result in peace or justice in the region, said Catholic commentator Michael Coren. But conscience pricks us to action. "Most of us know what Christian conscience is and when we look at what is going on there we viscerally realize, and intellectually, we have to do something about it, particularly as we helped to make this happen," said Coren.
The official midterm report from the Synod of Bishops has proven highly controversial inside and outside the synod hall, with some synod fathers saying it does not accurately reflect the assembly’s views. The report, delivered Oct. 13 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, uses strikingly conciliatory language toward divorced and remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and same-sex unions. Following Erdo’s nearly hour-long speech, 41 of the 184 synod fathers present took the floor to comment the same morning, the Vatican said.
VATICAN CITY – By tapping into its Eastern theological and spiritual traditions, the Catholic Church could find an appropriate way to minister to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said. "According to the tradition of the Byzantine Church, a priest or a bishop is not a judge. His task is not to justify or to condemn somebody, especially in such a delicate area as marriage and family," Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told reporters Oct. 11. The Church has to deal with many wounded people, he said. "We have to realize how many different possibilities, how many instruments Jesus Christ gave us."
Under blue skies, dressed in black, stand the members of Christian band Darkness Divided. In the serenity of a forest clearing, the band members' hands are stretched straight up, revealing streams of thick, dark blood pouring from wounds artificially created on their open palms. In the background, lyrics suggestive of Christ's crucifixion are belted out supported by the severe guitar and drum sounds typical of a metalcore band. This is a scene from The Hands that Bled, a single off the band's newly released album, Written in Blood. Three of the four members of Darkness Divided are Catholic, but on tour the entire band attends Mass, said guitarist Christopher Mora.
WARSAW, POLAND – Less than six months after St. John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned as a young priest in his Polish homeland. The two-volume Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna (The Catholic Social Ethic) has never been officially published. But it could, some observers said, affect interpretations of the future pope's philosophical development, highlighting a youthful commitment to radical change which sounded, at times, close to Marxism. "The text certainly reveals how he viewed the political realities of the early 1950s, as well as his deep sensitivity to social issues," said Msgr. Alfred Wierzbicki, director of the John Paul II Institute at Poland's Catholic University of Lublin.
SHERWOOD PARK – The Strathcona County Ecumenical Mission has been the high point of church life in the county for the past 25 years. Christians look forward to it and attend in droves. Attendance keeps growing. About 1,500 people from participating churches have been taking part in the mission events in recent years. Ten churches from four denominations were represented this year, including Catholic, Anglican, United and Lutheran. Worshipping together, learning together and growing together in Christ are important aims of the ecumenical mission held at churches in and around Sherwood Park.
Two young Edmonton priests have been appointed chaplains of the Edmonton Catholic School District to replace the late Father Michael Mireau. Father Dean Dowle, adjunct judicial vicar of the Alberta Interdiocesan Tribunal, and Father Julian Bilyj, a Ukrainian Catholic priest and school teacher, were appointed to their new positions Oct. 9. They will begin their duties as chaplains Oct. 27. Dowle, 32, was born in Edmonton, raised in Fort Saskatchewan and ordained to the priesthood in 2010. He served in parish ministry at St. Theresa's Parish and St. Joseph's Basilica before beginning graduate studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa.
In case you haven't noticed, Islam is waging war on Christianity. That's the view of Michael Coren, the controversial Catholic author. In his new book Hatred: Islam's War on Christianity, Coren blasts the West's hypocritical tolerance of the persecution of Christianity, which, he says, is administered by the hand of Islam, not by accident, but by design. However, John Esposito, an expert on Islam, says he understands Coren's concern with the increased tension, discrimination, conflict and violence towards Christians in some parts of the Muslim world. But Esposito, a leading Catholic expert on Islam and a professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., says the attribution of these facts to Islam rather than to some Muslims and Muslim groups is "simplistic and reductionist."
VATICAN CITY – The Church needs to find better ways to show how the Gospel message is a way of life meant to bring great joy to couples and families, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said during the synod on the family. The Gospel is not a burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion, said Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec. "Church teaching has to be rediscovered not as a set of rules, but as a true good news, a good news that frees people," Durocher told Catholic News Service Oct. 8. "God's plan for marriage is not a structure in which people have to bind themselves in order to somehow gain God's love. God's plan for marriage is a gift of God's love for us," he said.
How can I be sure I'm pregnant? How should I tell my family? Can I keep my job? What about my finances? These are just a few questions that run through the mind of a woman with an unplanned pregnancy. Sister Magdalene, with the Sisters of Life, said that by understanding the fears of a pregnant woman, one may better understand and sympathize with her predicament. The woman might feel all alone, and no one is supporting her. This is one of the most poignant hurts that a pregnant woman faces, she said. The Sisters of Life is a contemplative religious community founded in 1991 by Cardinal John O'Connor of New York for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life.
A 30-year effort to get the pope to take back the words of two 15th century popes got another boost this summer when Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing about 80 per cent of American sisters, passed a resolution calling on Pope Francis to repudiate the doctrine of discovery. The resolution, approved in August, called on Pope Francis to formally repudiate the events of Christian history when religion was used "to justify political and personal violence against indigenous nations and peoples and their cultural, religious and territorial identities."
Some elderly residents at Foyer Lacombe, the Oblate Fathers retirement home in St. Albert, will soon have to move out as the order has decided to shut down part of the residence. Dwindling membership and the high cost of private health care are cited as reasons for the decision to close New Foyer, the wing that houses residents requiring nursing care. The other wing of the residence, known as First Foyer, will continue to house 16 to 19 independent living residents. "We are getting out of the long-term care business; we are not getting out of the business of caring for our Oblates," said Rob Meilleur, chief administrative officer for the Oblates in Canada.
SHERWOOD PARK – Christians need help in coming to a higher appreciation of the role of their bodies in their spiritual lives, says Father Thomas Ryan. One practice that can help is yoga. Ryan said contrary to common opinion, yoga is not a religion but a science, philosophy and spiritual practice. "Yoga for me is just one possible way for Christians to come to feel more comfortable in their body and learn how to go to God through their bodies."
Teachers and principals are often privy to more information about their students than are the children's parents, a leading Catholic musician told the staff of Evergreen Catholic Schools. Teachers and principals often forget the impact that they have on young people, Steve Angrisano told the school district's faith development day Oct. 10. For those reasons, he said, "Just because you're not teaching religion doesn't mean you're not called to share your faith." Angrisano recalled his Grade 7 teacher who asked him why he failed a history test. After some coaxing, he revealed that his parents made him move to a new town where he didn't know anyone and to a new school where he had no friends. The test was not a priority.
Missionaries do enormous good for the world and the Church by bringing God's love to the far corners of the earth and by keeping the Church healthy and fruitful, Pope Francis said. Missionaries, who leave their homes and even risk their lives, "have done immense good for the Church," the pope said during an Oct. 12 canonization Mass for two Canadian saints. "Once the Church stops moving and becomes closed up inside herself, she gets ill, she can be corrupted, either by sin or that false knowledge separated from God that is worldly secularism," the pope said in his homily The pope presided over a thanksgiving Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the canonizations of Sts. Marie de l'Incarnation and Francois de Laval, two 17th-century pioneers of the Church in Canada.
VATICAN CITY – Hours before opening the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis prayed the bishops would express themselves and listen to each other openly, trusting in God to reconcile their differences. "Let us invoke openness to a sincere, open and fraternal exchange of views, that it might lead us to take pastoral responsibility for the questions that this changing time brings with it," the pope said. "Let them fill our heart, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity."
VATICAN CITY – The separation of married couples is a huge issue in the Philippines and other parts of Asia, said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila. Such separations often occur, not because of divorce, but because poverty pushes couples to separate in search of jobs abroad, Tagle said in an Oct. 4 interview. The cardinal said he hopes members of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops give appropriate consideration to the impact of poverty and migration on families and to a host of other issues that help or hinder family life.
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) launched its national palliative care campaign Oct. 3 with the support of Canada's Catholic bishops. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau said the bishops were happy to support COLF's national campaign in favour of palliative and home care, and against euthanasia and assisted suicide. The theme is Life-Giving Love.
Pope Paul VI, the man who oversaw and implemented the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, was a pope who believed passionately in a dialogue between the Church and the modern world. Serving as supreme pontiff through 15 tumultuous years, Pope Paul's desire for dialogue led him to become the first pope in modern times to travel outside of Italy, visiting six continents in seven years. His personal holiness will be recognized Oct. 19 when Pope Francis beatifies him during the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family.