Monday, November 30, 2009

College out

Vancouver College Fighting Irish lost their playoff semifinal on the weekend to the W.J. Mouat Hawks of Abbotsford. The Irish were leading 14-7 with 1:20 left in the third quarter when the Hawks' running back scampered in from 60-odd yards. Mouat went for two and the game ended 15-14 in their favour. Our next paper will have a match report and photos.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Chinese Vibes

If you speak Chinese and are looking for some wholesome Vancouver radio, the wait is over. Starting Dec. 5, our very own Pax Sinica columnist, Fr. Anthony Ho, is hitting the airwaves on AM 1470. That's when a new Chinese Catholic radio program called Fountain of Love and Life is being rolled out. The one hour show will run from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Fr. Ho will be on for about 15 minutes and the rest of the program will include pieces from Toronto and Montreal.

Courage To Come Back Awards

We lost an archbishop to depression. Mental illness is insidious and needs to be battled, and these people are doing a good job of it. They launched their annual award nomination campaign today. Do you know a British Columbian who has faced seemingly-insurmountable odds and had the courage and strength to overcome their challenges and reach out to help others? There are categories for addiction, medical, mental health, physical rehabilitation, social adversity, and youth (under 22 years as of Dec. 31, 2009). More info here.

Forget Lavalife!

A friend whose daughter recently got married related how she met her betrothed. She was travelling and met him on a train. They were both wearing the same Rosary rings, started talking, and, well, the rest is history. It just goes to show, says my friend, "If you want your daughter to meet a good man, buy her a Rosary ring. And even more important. . . have her pray it!"

An Invitation from Italy

The B.C. Catholic recently had a very friendly chat with Dr. Francesco de Conno, the new Italian consul-general in Vancouver. He paid us a visit to spread the word that the Italian ambassador wants to develop more tourism between Italy and Canada, in both directions. We discussed providing pilgrimage and tourist information on line, for example providing links to convents where tourists can stay. One event that's certain to capture Catholics' interest is next year's display of the Shroud of Turin, which will be visited by Pope Benedict XVI.

Nurses for Life have B.C. leadership

The leadership of Canadian Nurses for Life now includes a co-director from B.C.: nurse Renee Schmitz.

CNFL's mission is to support Canadian nurses in protecting and promoting the dignity of every human being from conception to natural death. Its current goals are to increase our network of pro-life nurses in Canada and develop its

If you are nurse (either currently practising, a student or retired) and wish to become a member, please fill out your membership information by clicking here. If you know of any nursing students or nursing friends who may be interested in joining the network, please pass this item onto them.

Listening to Youth

You likely know that Dr. Reginald Bibby is one of the foremost observers of religion in Canada. Well James Penner (left) is a highly regarded youth specialist and associate director of Bibby's Project Teen Canada, a unique series of national, bilingual research projects examining the values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and expectations of Canadian teenagers. His observations from this research are complemented by his experience teaching "Sociology of Youth" to hundreds of undergraduate students. Read this interview with him in L'Arche Canada's monthly publication.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Garfield Weston Awards

St. James did it again. The Abbotsford elementary school won a $1000 academic award for the second year in a row. They were once again named first runner-up in the Improvement in Academics category.

St. Jude's of Vancouver also won a $1000 prize for being first runner-up in the Determination in Academic Achievement award.


The prizes are awarded to schools in B.C. for "ongoing academic performance and improvement." First prize is a hefty $3000, while first and second runner-ups each get $1000.


Two Catholic schools were honoured with the title School of Distinction, however the honour carries no prize.

St. Joseph's – Determination in Academic Achievement – School of Distinction

St. Andrew's – Determination in Academic Achievement – School of Distinction

The awards are based on the "Fraser Institute's 2009 annual Report Card on on British Columbia's Elementary Schools and Report Card on Secondary Schools in British Columbia and Yukon."

College into semi-final

Vancouver College wins again. They defeated South Kamloops for the second time this season to advance to the AAA semifinals.  The Irish controlled most of the game and were leading 23-6 well into the fourth quarter before South Kam got a late TD. The Fighting Irish won 23-12 and will face the W.J. Mouat Hawks this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at McLeod Stadium in Langley. Mouat finished second in the eastern conference behind Coquitlam's Centennial Centaurs. Centennial faces the New Westminster Hyacks in the other semifinal in Langley. That game kicks-off at 5:30 p.m., before the College-Mouat game.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Catholic schools bow out of the BC high school AAA football playoffs – one left

The Stephen Spagnuolo saga, as far as high school football is concerned, is over. Notre Dame lost to WJ Mouat of Abbotsford by a score of 28-3 last weekend. The season may be over for the Jugglers, but they have a lot to be proud of after having a great season. Especially Spags, who wracked up a couple thousand yards rushing.

But that won't be all for Spags. He's gotten scholarship offers from a few universities in Canada and interest from some schools in the U.S. So, he'll be pounding the ball for heavy yardage somewhere in North America again next fall.


In other action, the St. Thomas More Knights lost to the South Kamloops Titans 10-7. In the dying seconds of the fourth quarter STM had a fourth down and goal on South Kam's two-yard line but failed to snap the ball before the clock reached zero.

However, STM head coach Bernie Kully and his team, shouldn't be hanging their collective heads over the loss. The Knights have improved dramatically over the last few seasons and have a lot of players returning to play next year.


With a first round bye, Vancouver College had the week off and they're gearing up for their game against STM's vanquisher South Kamloops. That game is on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at McLeod Stadium in Langley.

Look for blog on Monday about the Van College match against South Kam.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Knights in Action

The Knights of Columbus have been active in towns throughout B.C. for literally generations, and Fernie is no different. The local council hosts a soapbox derby each year, and the local newspaper, the Fernie Free Press, has given it some nice coverage.
Mark Pan, the Knights' communications director for B.C. who sent me the story, says he often hears of "amazing stories around B.C. of Knights in action. Unfortunately, these stories so very seldom are told."
Kudos to the Free Press in Fernie for telling this one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An appeal for Sudan

A letter from Sigrid Lefebvre, of St. Joseph's Parish in Mission, highlights the urgent need for help in Sudan. Lefebvre is a board member of Canadian Food for Children, a truly altruistic organization in which everyone is a volunteer. No one is paid for their work. One hundred percent of an individual's donation is used to buy food and to pay for shipping costs.
The organization is relaying a request for help from Bishop Akio Johnson Mutek, Bishop of Torit, who says, "death from hunger is so simple; one can die in bed weak and helpless." If you think you can lend a hand, knowing that every penny of your contribution will help feed the hungry, visit

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Archbishop Miller at Thomas Aquinas

The current Thomas Aquinas College newsletter has coverage, including pictures, of Archbishop Miller's Aug. 24 visit to the Santa Paula, Calif., college where he was principal celebrant and homilist at the 2009 convocation.

This world needs priests

The world may be broken, but it's a world "to which we are commissioned to bring hope and cheer — the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," according to a new book published by a bishop to help them build their bond with Christ. "Priests should be living examples of His hope, His cheerfulness, and His promise," says Bishop of Green Bay David Ricken.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Priest's Prayer

In this Year for Priests, we look back to the February 8, 1936 issue of The B.C. Catholic that featured on its front page A Priest's Prayer written by Father Allan Ross of the London Oratory.
Click on image below to enlarge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stephen Spagnuolo

I wrote a feature on Notre Dame's Stephen Spagnuolo this week. I've already blogged about him a few times and he was in a BCC story, but this one is a little more in-depth.


The senior running back is now looking at his post secondary options and I'll be running a small story on that next week.

Father de Souza came, saw, and communicated

Father Raymond de Souza ended his whirlwind visit to Vancouver with a talk to about 50 priests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and beyond. (One priest from the Archdiocese of Seattle attended.)
The popular National Post columnist was in Vancouver to speak about the importance of the Church using modern means of communications, and he issued a strong plug for The B.C. Catholic, which is expanding its circulation over the coming weeks with the goal of reaching half of registered Catholic households by Christmas.
The importance of evangelizing, of building community, and of spreading news about the Church makes it essential that the Church have a publication that is in people's homes, he said. As The B.C. Catholic works on an expanded news website, also expected to be complete around Christmas, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Vancouver can expect that the newspaper and its online presence will become an increasingly important part of their faith lives. See next week's B.C. Catholic for more coverage of Father de Souza and the expanded circulation initiative.
Meantime, we're not the only ones considering the influence of technology on the faith. Take a look at what the Vatican is up to.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Would Jesus Tweet?

That was the question put to Father Raymond de Souza today as he addressed Corpus Christi/St. Mark's students at UBC.

The good father, who writes regularly for The National Post, was unhesitant in his response. The Lord, who communicated and evangelized so well with people, would probably not Tweet the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus spoke directly with people, Father de Souza pointed out, and although it's true that in His day the height of written communications technology was parchment and ink, perhaps there's something significant about the fact He chose that time to come to earth. "The path of the Gospel, of Salvation history, is personal," Father de Souza said. "It's one on one."

While he admits he doesn't use Twitter, that doesn't necessarily mean Jesus wouldn't. Modern media can be a bridge in communications, he said. "It might be an imperfect bridge," but where it can help improve communications, it is a positive development.

Modern communications technology makes it easier to find information and can help people feel less alone. Those are positives. "Virtual communities are not real communities, but they're not nothing."

Father de Souza is in Vancouver speaking to priests of the archdiocese of Vancouver about Catholic social communications as part of The B.C. Catholic's expanded readership initiative that will see the paper going into half of Catholic homes within the next couple of years.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vancouver College Fighting Irish win 53rd annual Archbishops' Trophy game over the Notre Dame Jugglers

This year's incarnation of the Archbishops' Cup proved to be another exciting game as Vancouver College beat out Notre Dame 14-12 to even the annual series at 26 wins each (including one tie).

Winning on a mildly wet afternoon, College was down 12-0 until the ten-minute mark of the 4th quarter when they got the first of two TDs. The Irish tacked on both their conversions - Notre Dame missed both of theirs, and that was the difference in the game.

I'll be writing a complete game report and putting up some photos in next week's B.C. Catholic.

Death of the handshake?

That's the timely question posed on the front page of one local newspaper. It asks whether the fear of H1N1 will result in the end of shaking hands, a loss of manners, a decline in civility, and the death of Western Civilization as we know it. (Astute readers might point out that happened when "same-sex marriage" was legalized, but we digress...)
Certainly H1N1 has taken its toll on the Sign of Peace, which has been reduced to the Nod of Peace during flu season, but the pertinent question is, for how long?
What do you think? Will we be shaking hands at Mass and in offices again before long, or is this the death knell for a custom that dates back before the time of Christ? A free copy of the B.C. Catholic 2010 Directory, due out this month, will go to the best response.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Archbishops' Trophy Game

I'm really looking forward to watching the oldest rivalry game in B.C. high school football this week.

Vancouver College and Notre Dame have been beating each other up in this game for bragging rights and a shiny trophy since 1957.

The game this year (Friday @ 2:00 p.m.) is shaping up to be a classic.
That's because Notre Dame has quite possibly the best running back in the province in Stephen Spanuolo and College has an extremely stingy defensive unit that has only given-up 65 points in nine games.

That's an average of 7.2 points allowed per game.
These forces will be colliding at O'Hagan field and when the dust settles we'll have all the game reports and photos in next week's B.C. Catholic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend update for Catholic High School Football

Vancouver College
As big weekends for Vancouver College high school football go, last weekend lived up to the hype. The fighting Irish faced-off against the undefeated, no. 1 ranked New Westminster Hyacks at O'Hagan field and came away with a big 35-20 win to move up to 8-1 on the season. They leap-frogged New West (8-1) on the way, moving up to No. 2 from No. 4, while the Hyacks fell to No. 3.

The Irish were led by running back Garret Sanvido's 36 carries for 173 yards and four touchdowns. The senior back returned from injury for the game and gave his team a huge boost.

The Hyacks didn't help themselves out much as they had a serious case of fumble-itis, fumbling the ball 6 times in the first half and turning it over another two times in the second. Next week, College could clinch the Western Conference title with a win in the Archbishops' Trophy game against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Jugglers bounced back to their winning ways last weekend after thumping West Vancouver 43-0. The Jugglers beat the winless North Shore squad on the legs of their running back Stephen Spagnuolo. Spags ran the ball 11 times, gaining 232 yards and four TDs.

Notre Dame and Vancouver College play next week. The combination of Spags super running and College's "O'Hagan Wall" defence – one that is only allowing an average of around 6 points a game – should make for yet another classic Archbishops' Trophy battle.

St. Thomas More
The W.J. Mouat Hawks (6-2) walloped the St. Thomas More Knights (1-5) in Burnaby last weekend 46-0.
The score was only 13-0 at the half for the Hawks, but the Knights couldn't hold on after turning the ball over three times in the second half.
Next week St. Thomas More faces Surrey's Holy Cross Crusaders.

Holy Cross Crusaders
The winless Holy Cross Crusaders (0-6) lost again this week, this time falling to the Handsworth Royals (5-3) by a margin of 13-27 on the weekend.
The Crusaders are at home next week to close the season out against St. Thomas More.

Christian Olympic opportunities available

Olympic Opportunities with More Than Gold are available for anyone looking to get involved with other Christians during the 2010 Olympics. Check out these opportunities at the More Than Gold website:

Featured events include:
Wed. Nov. 4 at 12:00 pm – Buying Sex Is Not a Sport
Event at SFU.
Fri. Nov. 6 at 6:00 pm – Rapid Response Training
Sat. Nov. 7 at 10:30 am – Prayer Walk at Cypress Mountain

You might also want to consider joining the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which is coming to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The Rapid Response Team members will be prepared for crisis response but will also simply talk and offer to pray with Olympic employees, athletes, visitors, and residents of Vancouver.
A training session is planned for the Lower Mainland on Nov. 6-7 at Willingdon Church in Burnaby. The schedule is:
Registration: Friday, 5-7 p.m.
Session: Friday, 7-9 p.m.
Session: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you have questions please contact Melanie Neufeld at

Finally, the potential exploitation of young women in Metro Vancouver and Whistler during the 2010 Winter Olympics will be explored in the public forum Human Trafficking in Our Own Backyard at St. Stephen's Church Hall, 1360 East 24th Avenue in North Vancouver on Nov. 18, from 7-9 p.m. The event will be hosted under the More Than Gold banner.
More Than Gold is a broad coalition of Christian denominations and parachurch agencies formed to offer information and services before, during and after the Olympic Games. The object is help the Christian Church serve and educate their neighbours and visitors from around the globe.
The Vancouver Archdiocese is teaming up with others churches to host the forum on how the demand for paid sex fuels human trafficking, said a member of the archdiocesan More Than Gold committee.
"Such a large sporting event has the potential to contribute to exploitation. We want to `fill the hall' to show how everyone can help prevent such a thing from happening `in our own backyard'," said Pat Battensby. "Come and hear how you can connect with other Christian communities who share our concern."
For more information, contact Battensby at 604-926-4294.

Another take on the CCODP controversy

This week's editorial on the brouhaha over the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace said the ongoing tension between supporters and detractors of CCODP has not been healthy. The editorial has generated quite a bit of response, and we'll be running letters pro and con, but this commentary by the social conservative site SoCon or Bust has quite a bit to say about the whole controversy and the editorial. While I don't agree with it all, it makes some fair points.

Vancouver Archbishop Miller on "Why the Catholic Church?"

Listen to Archbishop Miller as he takes on birth control, married priests, and even confession as a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for Catholics, as he and CKNW's Jill Bennett have a chat about Catholicism on the station's Faith 101 series. (You'll have to listen to the station's newcast first, but the half-hour interview is worth the wait.)

Our Lady of Hastings Street?

Can the Catholic faith be expressed as part of a commercial venture? If the answer is no, then the New Orleans Saints in football, the California Angels in baseball, and a particular taqueria in downtown Vancouver may have to rethink their monickers.

A Catholic mother of Latin American heritage wrote to us, upset that a Mexican restaurant on West Hastings is using an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as its logo. Not only is the image on the storefront, but also on the restaurant's printed materials.

The woman writes: "Can our Catholic leaders in B.C do something about this?

For us, Our Lady is a precious treasure, our faith, our everyday light, not to be considered a logo to sell food. We venerate the Virgin, we don't commercialize her."

While I didn't find the image offensive, I did wonder where you draw the line between personal devotion and sacrilege. I asked Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo. Not only is he a canon lawyer, but his Mexican background gives him an understanding of Latin American sentiments when it comes to this topic.

Msgr. Lopez Gallo: "It is extremely difficult to qualify the popular devotion that sometimes falls into very superstitious worship. Yes, many Mexicans (and Latinos), especially uneducated Catholics, long to put images of Our Lady of Guadalupe everywhere to beg her protection. In their candor they do not have the discretion to limit their devotion and avoid usage under trivial circumstances.

Conscious of these religious feelings, business people commercialize religious icons (e.g., Sacred Heart, symbols of the Eucharist and, of course, images of Mary) for the selling of their products to their target market.

For me, this exploitation of religious images may be blamed more on the commercial agents than on the faithful. The reservation of your correspondent shows how hesitant she is to publicize her criticism.

This is extremely common in Mexico and in many Third World countries. The poorer (and more economically desperate) the people, the more they tend to concretize their devotion in pious objects. I don't think we can do anything to remedy the regrets of your reader.

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