WCR This Week

Jay's Articles

Bishops seek protection from bullying for all students

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – The Alberta government's Bill 10, which would have allowed "gay-straight alliances" (GSAs) in the province's schools, made a serious attempt to reconcile the right of student safety with parental and school rights in the education and formation of children, said Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. In a letter circulated in parishes in the archdiocese on the Dec. 13-14 weekend after the bill had been withdrawn from the legislature, Smith said public debate on the issue has continued and "the commentary has not always been kind to the leadership of our Catholic schools." Catholic schools, he said, insist that the approach to protecting children "be a fully inclusive one," one that takes into account the many reasons why children may be subjected to bullying.

Parishes called to become centres for evangelization

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Canadian parishes are in need of "profound conversion" so that they can fulfill their call to evangelization, says a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Parishes are called to be missionary – not necessarily to foreign countries – but primarily to those around them," says the statement, The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today. The 11-page exhortation notes that some parishes are already experimenting with "new ways of Christian living," and it urges them to step out into their neighbourhoods to propose the faith and invite those who do not practise that faith to encounter Christ "through a vibrant parish community."

Smith learning from aboriginal people

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholics can learn important lessons from how God is moving in and among First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, says Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. Smith said aboriginal people have taught him the importance of listening deeply, respect for elders and how a person's sense of identity is linked to their place in the family and the wider community. The archbishop made his comments during his homily at the Dec. 12 Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples.

Sask. farmboy advocated for Brazilian street kids

Book cover

December 29, 2014
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Connie Gerwing stood at the front during her book launch Dec. 12 at the Dickensfield Long Term Care Centre. Holding her just-published book about her cousin Al, a long-time advocate for street children in Brazil, she said, "Alphonse wrote almost all of this. I just filled in the spaces." By filling in the spaces, she meant talking to friends and family, sifting through Al Gerwing's letters, newspaper columns, family history and weaving the information around Al's memories.

Pope credits diplomacy for warming U.S. – Cuba relations

December 29, 2014
CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis expressed his joy over the historic turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations as the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties after half a century. "Today we are happy because we have seen how two peoples who were distanced for so many years took a step toward each other yesterday," he told a group of new ambassadors. The pope credited the breakthrough to the consistent, constant efforts of the nations' ambassadors and the "noble" task of diplomacy. The pope's comments came Dec. 18 in a speech to 13 new ambassadors to the Vatican who were presenting their letters of credential to the pope.

Pact formalizes chaplains' access in Alta. health care institutions

Vickie Kaminski, Archbishop Richard Smith

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholic chaplains have been formally recognized as an integral part of the Alberta health care system. That recognition was solidified when the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Alberta Health Services (AHS) signed an access agreement that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of appointed Catholic clergy in Alberta Health Services facilities across the province. The first two agreements were signed Dec. 11 by Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith and Ukrainian Bishop David Motiuk.

Christmas Mass honours the dead

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

As they have done every month since the death of their beloved mother Veneranda Sirica last June, Gianna Trulli and her family were at the Holy Cross Mausoleum for Mass Dec. 20. This Mass, though, was a bit different. It was a Christmas Mass for the dead presided by Archbishop Richard Smith. The Mass, which the archbishop has celebrated for the last three years, is intended for people like the Trullis who have lost loved ones recently.

Bishops' letters seek to thwart misconception

Fr. Stefano Penna

December 29, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Alberta's bishops want to overcome "a narrow and distorted" presentation of the Church's response to bullying in schools by speaking directly to their parishioners, says Father Stefano Penna. Critiques of Catholic schools' resistance to a government bill that would have mandated so-called gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Alberta high schools have presented "a caricature of Catholic schools as being narrow and exclusive," said Penna. Because of that, some Alberta bishops have issued pastoral letters on the issue, he said in an interview. Penna, a professor at Newman Theological College, is serving as the Alberta bishops' spokesperson on the issue.

Edmonton parish restores 60-year-old statue of Jesus

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

After a four-month hiatus, the statue of Jesus is back on the cross outside St. Agnes Church, 10826-62 Ave. It was returned Dec. 10 and it looks sparklingly clean and shiny. It took two cranes to lift the 450-kilogram cast iron statue up and screw it back in place. Project manager Bob Forrow, a member of the twinned pastoral council of St. Agnes and St. Anthony parishes, was happy to see the project come to an end. "It's a unique job but there was always a problem."

L'Arche pageant is an Advent favourite

John Sparks, Sally Wharry and Gabriel Mitchell

December 29, 2014
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

There were kings and angels and shepherds. Mary arrived on a donkey this year and there were spotlights on the different characters. Jeffery Fidelak was a king and arrived at the manger with a huge cardboard camel and a wide smile. As always, baby Jesus was a real baby – this time three-month-old Gabriel Mitchell. Mary and Joseph beamed with joy holding the baby, caressing him tenderly. This Christmas pageant has been going on for more than two decades but is still a favourite event of many during Advent. This year, more than 300 people attended the play at St. Thomas d'Aquin Church and most presented gifts of food for the Edmonton Food Bank.