Stories for the Left Column of the WCR This Week Page
The heart of a Catholic school is Jesus, the archbishop of Edmonton told Catholic elementary students in St. Albert April 13. Speaking to students at J.J. Nearing School, Archbishop Richard Smith said the Catholic school system is all about Jesus – knowing him, loving him and following him. "In a Catholic school, you learn all kinds of wonderful things, but at the heart of it all is learning about Jesus." Smith spent all morning at the school, speaking to different grades separately in the library. The visit was part of his plan to visit all 182 Catholic schools in the archdiocese.
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MONTREAL – Four years into Syria's civil war, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is petitioning Ottawa to work harder for peace in the region and to increase aid to the war's victims. An online petition launched by CCODP calls on the federal government to provide more aid, make a diplomatic contribution to a peace plan and increase its efforts to choke off the money that keeps both the Assad regime and ISIS fighting.
Community members joined Fr. Leo Hofmann and parishioners of St Michael's Catholic Parish in Leduc for the parish's second annual Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 3. About 165 people took part in the event, nearly double the number of participants as last year.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate have deep roots in Edmonton and in Canada as a whole. In fact, the missionaries were paramount in establishing the Edmonton Archdiocese and other dioceses across the West. After helping to establish the Church in Eastern Canada, they rolled out across the Prairies founding missions, parishes and dioceses. One of their most important Western missions was St. Albert, which in 1871 became the seat of a diocese under Oblate Bishop Vital Grandin.
John Ourfali, 77, remembers how as a child he saw an elderly family friend break down and cry whenever he met with Ourfali's parents, unable to speak about what had happened to him and his family in the dark days of what today is known as the Armenian genocide. "He used to cry a lot and couldn't talk about it so we never knew what happened to his family," said Ourfali, an Armenian Catholic whose original family name is Khatcherian.
Mercy is what makes God perfect and all-powerful, Pope Francis said in a document officially proclaiming the 2015-16 extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. "If God limited himself to only justice, he would cease to be God, and would instead be like human beings who ask merely that the law be respected," the pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus, (The Face of Mercy). The document is the "bull of indiction" calling a holy year to begin Dec. 8.
The Church, like the provincial economy, is resource dependent, says Archbishop Richard Smith. Speaking at the annual Chrism Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica March 30, the archbishop said the Alberta economy is heavily dependent on oil, a resource whose fluctuations in price create an unstable economic foundation for the lives of the people. The Church herself is resource dependent, he acknowledged. "She relies upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Students and staff at Edmonton's Archbishop Oscar Romero High School are rejoicing at the upcoming beatification of their school's patron, who gave his life for the poor and the oppressed. They say Romero is their role model and are happy that the Vatican is fast-tracking his cause. Romero was archbishop of San Salvador during the bloody and tension-filled time leading up to El Salvador's 1979-1992 civil war. Shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980, the archbishop has long been considered a saint by many in Latin America, but the official Vatican process of canonization had lingered for years.
Christians must respond to fear the way Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, says Texas ethicist and author Scott Bader-Saye. Despite his fear of being tortured and dying on the cross, Jesus did not fight the soldiers who came to pick him up but chose a less confrontational path, Bader-Sayer said at the ecumenical Social Justice Institute at Newman Theological College. The ethicist said Jesus' example can be used to confront all sources of fear, individual and collective, including school shootings and racial tension, both seemingly rampant in the United States.
The Catholic Church supports the efforts of scientists to study the causes and effects of climate change and insists governments and businesses must get serious about specific commitments for protecting the environment. But Pope Francis, like his predecessors, does not pretend to have a technical solution to the problem. However, he does feel a responsibility to remind Christians of their religious obligation to safeguard creation.