Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Christmas celebrations filled with hope in Erbil

Liberated villagers in the Nineveh Plains gather Christian spirit
Father Luis Montes, who has lived in Iraq since 2010, stands beside a Nativity scene.  A majority of villages on the Nineveh plains have been liberated from the Islamic State, allowing them to celebrate their Christian traditions once again.
Refugees are overjoyed to hear their homes have been liberated from the Islamic State (IS), and celebrate Christmas together.
The refugees, many who live in Erbil, the capital city of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, have lost much during their lives. "Despite everything, Iraqis have lost neither their smiles nor their hope," said Father Luis Montes, episcopal vicar of the Latin bishop for Kurdistan. He has lived in Iraq since 2010, and spoke with the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the current situation in the refugees from the Nineveh plains.
"When we received the news that IS was retreating, a spontaneous celebration broke out in the refugee camps. The people went out into the streets to dance and sing, as though they did not have any other problems in their lives," Father Montes told ACN. More than 120,000 people fled their villages from the jihadist threat, and are eager to return to their homes after more than two years away.

"Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before the refugees can return to their homes. The region is riddled with bombs," said Father Montes. The area has been "riddled with land mines" and reports of "bombs in with children's toys" have caused further delay for the returning refugees.

Father Montes noted the mines required to be cleared up and villages restored. "Approximately 60% of the homes on the Nineveh plains were burned down," he said. "Everything still needs to be done, the people have nothing left."

Nonetheless, they are happy to hear the news of their liberated villages, and many Christian refugees living in Erbil celebrated the Christmas season in an even grander scale. The houses and streets were decorated with trees and lights, and chocolate and gifts donated from all around the world were passed around the refugee camps. "I find it quite impressive to look into the faces of the children when they see the presents," said Father Montes. "Not only because of the things in and of themselves, but because people who live very far away were thinking of them."

"They know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First Filipino to head U.S. diocese will supervise Salt Lake City

Auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles appointed after 20-month vacancy
Pope Francis appointed Auxiliary Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Los Angeles as bishop of Salt Lake City. (Photo Credit: CNS / J.D. Long-Garcia, The Tidings)
The first Filipino bishop of the United States will become the first to head a diocese.

The Vatican announced the appointment of Bishop Oscar A. Solis as the new head of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Jan. 10. The Philippines-born bishop, who is currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will be covering a 20-month vacant spot left in Salt Lake City by the previous bishop John Charles Wester, who was moved to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M. in April 2015.
Solis considered his role as the 10th bishop of Salt Lake City "a recognition of the diversity of the Church in America and the universality of the Church. I know what it means to be a pastor, a shepherd of a particular diocese," he told the L.A. diocesan newspaper Angelus News. "It is a tremendous blessing and a responsibility and a privilege to be a service to the local Church in the United States of America, coming from the Philippines."
For more information on Bishop Solis, visit Catholic News Agency's article here.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners reflect in new grotto


A Sacred Garden for The Season

Young parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help gather in front of newly installed grotto. The grotto was installed for the 150th Anniversary of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. (Photo Credit: Kathy Mok)
First it was the rust and crimson colours of Fall and now the twinkly lights of Christmas which are beckoning parishioners and passersby alike, to stop and stay a while at the newly landscaped garden of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. Ever since the grotto was installed for the 150th Anniversary of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the garden has become a focal point for parish celebrations.

The parish’s Advent season began with a beautiful concert by parish choirs with the theme of light. The congregation processed to the nativity scene on the lawn for an official light-up of the church and garden after the music. Children and adults were thrilled. Hot chocolate with marshmallows warmed up cold hands. It was a lovely way to begin the preparations for Christmas.

Situated on the north lawn of the church and graced by a Marian shrine, the sacred garden around the OLPH grotto is becoming a quiet attraction for adults and an irresistible place for children to run around and play. Perhaps, it’s the way the graceful figure of Our Lady gently draws all the beauty of the natural setting towards herself. The Japanese maple, so appealing all-year round but simply stunning when it turns bright crimson in the Fall, is a beautiful backdrop for the grey stone of the grotto and the white sculpture of Mary.

OLPH Pastor Fr. Babu Mathew has had a hands-on approach in creating this space. He and his confreres spent several hours digging trenches for the lighting cables over the summer.
“The idea was to create a space which would help people glorify God by simply enjoying nature …the plants, the trees, the water…all in the presence of our Blessed Mother. The idea of using hewn and polished rock is also part of the whole experience of being part of nature,” said Fr. Mathew. “This garden is part of caring for our common home, Laudato Si! It is very appropriate that we should be working on it not very long after the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical.” 
The search for rocks, shrubs and trees began in Squamish. The ground in front of the shrine was leveled and paved for easy wheelchair access. Bluestone was cut and shaped to lead the casual wanderer to the Blessed Virgin’s feet and under her gentle gaze. A variety of unusual dogwoods were planted to create a natural grove that would complement the vista of the grotto. The choice of shrubs and trees were designed to kindle the senses with colour and fragrance. The Katsura tree releases a delicate scent in the Fall. One of the Japanese maples with lovely fall foliage is called Koto no Ito which translates to “harp strings.” A perfect setting for angels.

Gardener and landscaper Deborah Trudel oversaw the planning and planting of trees and shrubs to complement the grotto.

Integral to the concept was the creation of a space intimate for private prayer but not closed off to the public. Small rhododendrons, shrubs, ferns and ground cover, contribute to the sense of peace around the gurgling water from the rock waterfall.

Said Fr. Babu Mathew, “One of the things which moves me is that this spiritual space is created by people who don’t necessarily share the same faith background we do yet they contribute in a very profound way, connecting us all at a deeper level. That alone means we are speaking to a larger community.”

What a wonderful way to bring joy to the world this Christmas season! 

For more information on the 150th anniversary, see the BC Catholic article here.
Bertilla Watanabe is a Pastoral Coordinator at OLPH Parish and a Pastoral Associate at Holy Rosary Cathedral.

12 Days of Christmas Choir

Choral and organ music to fill the halls
The Twelve Days of Christmas poster. (Photo Credit: RCAV)
The lilting tones of Christmas will be visiting three local churches this holiday season.

MOTET Chamber Choir will be performing various choral and organ music leading up to the Epiphany. The concerts will feature works from Orlando Gibbons, Sir David Willcocks, and a new carol by Thomas Hewitt Jones.

The performances will be located on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m., Sts. Joachim & Ann Church, Aldergrove, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m., Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Vancouver, and Jan. 2 at 2 p.m., at St. Hilda's Church, Sechelt.

Admission to each performance is by donation. For more information, visit MOTET's Facebook page or website.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Opus Dei leader dies at 84

Prelate of Opus Dei passes away due to lung infection
Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez (centre), Prelate of Opus Dei, greets Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlanlnepantia, Mexico at the Vatican. Bishop Echevarria headed Opus Dei for more than 20 years before passing away in Rome. (Photo Credit: CNS Photo/Paul Haring)
Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, the Prelate of Opus Dei, died at the age of 84 in Rome Dec. 12, days after being hospitalized with pneumonia.
"I wish to make known to you and to all members of this prelature my deepest condolences," the Pope wrote Dec. 13 expressing his sympathy, "at the same time that I unite to your action of giving thanks to God for his paternal and generous witness of his priestly and episcopal life."
The late bishop was born in Madrid in 1932, where he met St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic organization with the goal of growing spiritual health and discipleship among laity. Members of Opus Dei are taught to use their work and daily activities to encounter the Lord.

Bishop Echevarria would eventually become St. Josemaria's secretary from 1953 to 1975, and was ordained a priest of the prelature in 1955. He later became the secretary general of Opus Dei, and was elected prelate in 1994, being consecrated a bishop the following year.

Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, Bishop Echevarria's auxiliary, now controls the prelature's ordinary government. A successor will be nominated later.

For the full story, see Catholic News Agency.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New ministry starts up in the Downtown Eastside

Full-time Catholic Street Missionaries aim to serve the homeless, prostituted, and drug-addicted
Members of a new outreach gather at Westminster Abbey for a fast and pilgrimage to pray for their success. Photo submitted.
A new ministry to people living on the streets has sprung up in Vancouver. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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More guidance on euthanasia
Edmundston Bishop Claude Champagne
Atlantic Canada's Catholic bishops seem to be leaving the door open for the reception of the Last Rites and Catholic funerals for Those seeking assisted suicide or euthanasia. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Campbell River celebrates with loved hermit

Frater Charles Brandt honoured during the 50th anniversary of his ordination
It was standing room only for 93-year-old Frater Charles Brandt from Oyster River, B.C.
"Brandt, soon to turn 94, is much revered by almost everyone for his tireless work on behalf of the natural world, a world he sees as infused with divine purpose...
He’s a hermit who took a science degree, ornithology, and uses social media to distribute his stunning photographs of wild creatures — a cougar visiting his hermitage, wild swans in flight, a red-winged blackbird."
Find out more about Frater Brandt here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pro-life speaker creates documentary

Schadenberg motivated by lack of media coverage on the dangers of euthanasia
Alex Schadenberg holds up his newly released documentary The Euthanasia Deception, about the situation in Belgium. Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic. Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic.
A new documentary warns of what the future may be like with euthanasia legal. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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 see The B.C. Catholic website.

http://www.bccatholic.ca/international-news/international-news

Christian organizations intervene in ski resort case
Constitutional lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos
Two Christian organizations intervened Dec. 1 before the Supreme Court of Canada behalf of an historic Indigenous religious freedom claim. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bethlehem documentary changes filmmaker's life


Her work covers the security wall Israel has built around Bethlehem
Executive producer Wael Kabbani stands with Sansour before a screening at the Rio Theatre. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
When a filmmaker travelled to Bethlehem to create a documentary about the world's most famous "little town," she didn't realize it would change her life. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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CWL delegation brings resolutions to Parliament Hill

CWL delegation included resolutions chair Joan Bona, president-elect Anne-Marie Gorman, legislation chair Nancy Simms and president Margaret Ann Jacobs. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
A four-woman delegation from the Catholic Women's League (CWL) visited Parliament Hill Nov. 27-30, meeting with public officials on issues ranging from immigration to palliative care. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Archbishop says God invented liturgy

About 200 attend conference on 'making every Sunday matter'
Keynote speaker Father Samuel Weber, OSB.
The Liturgy was invented by God, not human beings, said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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Senate must give Transgender Bill C-16 a thorough vetting: Senator Plett
Senator Don Plett
As Senators began debating Transgender Bill C-16 Nov. 28, a Conservative Senator is urging his colleagues to give the legislation a "thorough and rigorous vetting process." For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pair encourages couples to understand fertility

Billings practitioners Lisa and Dominic Price find natural family planning strengthens their marriage
The Price family poses at a park near their home in Surrey. Lisa and Dominic have appeared on TV and taught hundreds of couples how to achieve or avoid pregnancy naturally, without drugs or side effects. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
Women in the Western world don't know enough about themselves, say natural family planning practitioners Dominic and Lisa Price. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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Greek Orthodox father loses religious freedom and parental rights case
An Orthodox Christian father has lost a religious freedom and parental rights case before the Ontario Superior Court. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Pipeline to pull prayer from local community

Standing Rock inspires solidarity service
Protestors demonstrate at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the Dakota Access oil pipeline Sept. 9, 2016. (Photo Credit: Andrew Cullen / Reuters)
Prayer unites individuals peacefully, and that's what a local Eastern Orthodox Church intends to do.

The Eastern Catholic Church in Richmond is holding a vesper to pray for a "just and irenic solution to the concerns of the Native Americans at Standing Rock, North Dakota" Dec. 4, from 6-8 p.m, said Father Richard Soo, SJ.
"The ecumenical patriarchy under Patriarch Bartholomew are very concerned with environmental issues," Father Soo said. "Pope Francis's latest document Ladauto si'  quotes the Eastern Churches extensively."
Escalating accounts of violence against protestors of the Dakota oil line has created many rallies in support, such as in Seattle, Winnipeg, and Courtney, B.C. Father Soo hopes the global support of prayer and peaceful protesting will reduce the violence against protestors, encourage the Dakotan government and corporations to engage in a real dialogue with the Sioux tribe, and for all involved to "be good stewards of God's creation, and treat others with love and respect."

"Everyone is welcome to this ecumenical event, which is cosponsored by Eastern Catholic Church, Richmond, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver's First Nations Office with Deacon Rennie Nahanee," said Father Soo. "It all starts with prayer, we must be grounded in the Lord."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Former abortion worker tells of conversion


Carol Everett walked away from the industry after falling to her knees in prayer at her clinic
Carol Everett (centre) chats with Advokate executive director Jared White (right) and Hope for Women's Elizabeth Sutcliffe after the Nov. 17 fundraiser. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
A woman who managed two Texas abortion clinics and oversaw 35,000 abortions is now a vocal activist against the industry. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

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Michel MacDonald named new director of COLF

Caption: Michele Boulva.
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) board has appointed Michel MacDonald the agency's new director. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mission to Seafarers active at Christmas

Chaplains to bring gifts to sailors
Sailors smile after being given presents on Christmas eve in 2012 in English Bay during a Mission to Seafarers event. BCC File Photo.
In order to help sailors far from their families and loved ones, the Missions to Seafarers are asking for donations so they can buy Christmas presents. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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Ottawa's new vocations director forms discernment group
Father Pierre Champoux, the new Ottawa archdiocese's vocations director, takes a selfie with the eight men who showed up for the first meeting of his Priest Discernment Group. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).

The Archdiocese of Ottawa's new vocations director decided to form a discernment group and Father Pierre Champoux was delighted eight young men showed up for its first meeting. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Duo reflects on WYD performance

Their dance routine incorporated mercy and Canadian artists
Abby Zaporteza and Celine Diaz show their moves during the post-WYD event, No Greater Love, in Surrey. The pair were one of two youth performances from Canada at WYD 2016 in Krakow. Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic.
A Tweet on Twitter led two local dancers to represent Canada before an international audience. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

CCO missionaries encourage students to respond to Christ
CCO co-founders Andre and Angele Regnier at the Founders' Dinner in Ottawa. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) missionaries not only share the gospel with university students, they invite them to respond to Jesus Christ. Thousands have. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Author underwent a spiritual experience

His new home inspired him to write several novels
Henry K. Ripplinger
Creative inspiration for writing can come from the strangest places. For Henry Ripplinger, that strange place was someone else's home. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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Government presses ahead with homosexual agenda
MP Randy Boissonnault

The Trudeau government is pressing ahead with an aggressive LGBTQ2 equality agenda through new legislation and the appointment of Special Advisor to guide the process. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Walking club soothes the loneliness in grief

Volunteers and attendees offer understanding and support in small-group setting
Volunteers join people mourning lost loved ones for a walk along Kitsilano Beach to help them heal. The Vancouver Hospice Society hosts the walking club. Photo submitted.
A walking group is offering an active way to overcome grief. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Marrakech Climate change conference fails to address small farmers' needs
The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (Nov 7-18) in Marrakech failed to address the needs of small farmers says a representative from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Conference to focus on refugees

Day of reflection will link to Holy Family
Men and women in religious communities as well as laity will pause to reflect on welcoming refugees and immigrants as Advent draws near. "We remember that Joseph and Mary were refugees after the birth of Jesus," said Jean-Michel Bigou of the Canadian Religious Conference. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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Transgender Bill C-16 on its way to the Senate
University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson received the POGG Canada Canadian Values Award Nov. 19 in Ottawa. Shown here: POGG chairman Fred Litwin; Jordan Peterson; POGG president Edgar Simpson, and Harry Weldon, Founder of POGG. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
Transgender Bill C-16 was sent to the Senate Nov. 18, despite an effort by one Conservative MP to have it reviewed in committee for its impact on freedom of expression. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Iraq Christians return to Nineveh

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take back Bashiqa
Pershmerga fighters examine Al Tamera Syriac Catholic parish in Qaraqosh, Iraq after liberating the city from Islamic State. (Photo Credit: Father Roni Momika)
The Islamic State has controlled the city of Qaraqosh, Iraq, for two years. On Nov. 7, Reuters reported Kurdish Pershmerga fighters have taken back the city.

Christian liturgy has been celebrated in the Church of Mar Korkeis, marking the first time such religious activities were allowed since the town was seized in August 2014.
Refugees are eager to return to their homes, but Kurdish Peshmerga Brigadier General Mahram Yasin warned of leftover explosives and mines. "We want people to be patent and not to return here until we completely clear the area, as we want to ensure their safety," he told Reuters.
 For more information, view the Catholic News Agency article here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Singing priest embraces God's mercy with music

Father Rob Galea performed at World Youth Day wrap-up event
Father Rob Galea speaks about his troubled history to youth at "No Greater Love," a post World Youth Day event in Surrey. Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic.
An Australian priest who starred on the televised singing competition The X Factor shared his experiences of mercy with local youth. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.


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For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Bishops endorse palliative care Bill C-277
An interfaith coalition including Canada's Catholic Bishops has endorsed Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu's palliative care Bill C-277, adding to the likelihood it will pass in the House of Commons. "We feel very strongly Canadians are behind this bill, and so far it looks like we have all-party support," Gladu said in an interview. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

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