Stories for the Left Column of the WCR This Week Page
Last summer, St. Thomas More parishioner Eric Green was flipping through his Western Catholic Reporter when an article about Archbishop Richard Smith's call to parishes to sponsor refugees caught his eye. News of the persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq including beheadings, rapes, bombings, massacres and kidnappings had not yet been widely publicized. A goal set by the archdiocese to sponsor 50 refugees had gained little traction due to the summer lull, when many parishioners would be away on holidays. Green immediately picked up the phone and called Paulette Johnson, the refugee sponsorship coordinator for Catholic Social Services, asking her what an individual or parish could do.
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Grandin School, the oldest Catholic school still in operation in Edmonton, marked its centennial June 5 with a large outdoor party that included a barbecue, music from the 1930s, school tours, speeches and the unveiling of a huge mural. Roughly 500 people attended the celebration, many of them former students and staff.
Catholics have to proclaim the truth, says charismatic preacher Robert Valiante. "The truth needs to be proclaimed," Valiante said. "When was the last time you proclaimed it?" Speaking to about 700 people at a recent festival, he said Catholics have the right and the duty to evangelize. Valiante, a member of St. John Newman Parish in Scranton, Penn., was one of several evangelists who addressed Edmonton's first Shalom Festival at St. Theresa Church May 30.
Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate is expected to send a strong moral message – one message that could make some readers uncomfortable, some observers say. "The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people's life and health," Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which used the term "cultural genocide" to describe the experience of Aboriginal people in residential schools, said reconciliation within the country "is going to take hard work." In a 382-page summary report with 94 recommendations, the commission called for changes at all levels of society and government.
Conflict and cruelty must be fought with tenderness, forgiveness and bearing Christ's cross, Pope Francis said. Bosnia-Herzegovina has experienced "a history of cruelty" and one that is seen in many conflicts around the world today, the pope told a gathering of priests, religious and seminarians in Sarajevo's cathedral June 6.
Sister Gertrude Sopracolle happened to be alone in her St. Albert condo when she learned Pope Francis had announced 2015 would be a year to honour those in consecrated life. The Ursuline, one of 50 in her religious order in Alberta and Saskatchewan whose average age is about 85, could not control herself. She admits she burst out laughing.
Two years ago Crystal Dean was pregnant with her sixth child. She thought her pregnancy was going well until her doctor told her there were serious complications. Her unborn baby, she was told, had a heart defect as well as a lymphatic malformation of her neck. The doctor recommended the pregnancy be terminated. "I remember feeling like my whole world was turned upside down," recalled Dean. "My doctor was a Christian so I was surprised that he would say that to me."
VATICAN CITY – The power of the Holy Spirit transforms people into bold witnesses of the Gospel, who reach out to others, exercise charity and live in harmony with creation, Pope Francis said. Celebrating Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and reciting the Regina Coeli prayer with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square May 24, the pope spoke of Pentecost as the day the Church was born universal but united.
A Pentecost weekend Festival of Praise led by popular Christian vocalist Janelle Reinhart was standing room only at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton. The concert, which preceded a Pentecost Vigil Mass with Archbishop Richard Smith, was part of the May 22-24 New Evangelization and Healing Conference organized by Catholic Renewal Services. "I think it's a sign," said guitarist Jason Reinhart, marvelling at the size of the crowd, estimated at nearly 700. "People were hungry for the Holy Spirit. They just were coming in and coming in and coming in and it was just great to see. There were people of all ages here."