Stories for the Left Column of the WCR This Week Page
Lent is the penitential season of preparation for the celebration of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. Ash Wednesday - Feb. 10 this year - is the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. During this season, Catholics are encouraged to pray, read Scripture, to fast and give alms. These observances are intended to help us to turn our hearts and minds to God.
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In a significant turning point for the Church in Canada, the country's northernmost dioceses have shed their status as mission dioceses. The Vatican announced as of Jan. 25, it will no longer consider the six remaining mission dioceses, five of them in western and northern Canada, as mission dioceses.
Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie's childhood wasn't a happy one. He had what he needed, except for what he wanted most - the love of his dad. His father was a workaholic farmer who spent his life working the land. Sylvain, who grew up in a French Canadian farming family of eight in Saskatchewan, spent most of his teen years doing what he could to earn his father's love - to no avail.
The newly ordained bishop for the Syriac Catholic Church in Canada pledged to make his first priority the suffering and spiritual needs of beleaguered Syriacs seeking refuge in Canada. Bishop Antoine Nassif was ordained Jan. 23 by Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan at Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral in Beirut.
Ask Professor Ali Asani about the Catholic faith, and his mind is instantly brought to its beauty. Asani is not Catholic. As a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and culture at Harvard University, he is steeped in the intellectual and experiential knowledge of Islam, but he also has developed a knowledge and appreciation of Catholicism through attending Mass.
Muslim leaders from around the world have adopted a declaration defending the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. Participants said the Marrakesh Declaration, developed during a Jan. 25-27 conference, was based on the Medina Charter, a constitutional contract between the Prophet Muhammad and the people of Medina.
In our world today, a major topic of discussion is that of euthanasia, physician-assisted dying, assisted death. Often at the centre of this discussion is the matter of suffering that is often prevalent and endured by so many. At the beginning of these reflections, it needs to be noted that suffering is an evil. In other words, suffering is not to be sought after; it is to be avoided at all costs and every effort is to be made to alleviate and overcome it when it is present.
The Catholic community must engage in a constructive dialogue that seeks, not only to respond to Alberta Education's new guidelines accommodating gender-diverse students, but to address them with a Spirit-filled response. We must find a solution faithful to our Catholic identity but which also responds to the presence of transgender students in our schools. I urge you to read the guidelines because we need everyone praying for and discerning the will of the Holy Spirit in how we ought to respond.
The Guidelines for Best Practices document issued by the Minister of Education on January 13, 2016, contain many constructive, thoughtful and reasonable suggestions for Best Practices. Many of these are already being followed or could easily be adopted by Catholic schools without concern for adversely affecting the Catholicity of the schools. For example, the Guidelines state that “Requests for supports are addressed on a case-by-case basis and solutions are evidence-informed and individualized to best meet the needs of the student making the request.”
There's no question - 2015 was a tough year, and the cries for help were many. But despite economic hardship, people in the Edmonton Archdiocese responded generously. When a massive earthquake devastated Nepal in April, they contributed more than $336,000 to Development and Peace's relief efforts.