Sep 29, 2009
Sep 24, 2009
While Catholics may not know much about the man who has served in this role since 2001 they certainly have seen the fruits of his labour across the country.
Let's answer the second question first. What's a nuncio?
Think of this role as the Vatican diplomatic ambassador to a particular country. This individual is essentially responsible for the Holy See's (Vatican) relations with that nation and vice versa. All those who hold this title are members of the clergy - they serve as the Holy Father's eyes and ears on the ground and convey important communication back to the Vatican. The term nuncio comes from the Latin "nuntius" which means messenger or message.
Much of their work is done behind the scenes but they also serve as the Vatican's official representatives at important church functions: the installation of bishops, high profile funerals, events like the annual Cardinal's Dinner, etc. Archbishop Ventura also made a keynote address every year to the plenary of Canadian Bishops, held each October in Cornwall as well as hosting a variety of groups at his official residence.
Papal Nuncios also play an important role in liaising with local government in a given country. Archbishop Ventura's office and residence are based in Ottawa, providing the apppropriate backdrop for high level meetings with government officials on a host of issues.
Finally and likely of most interest, nuncios help determine the future leadership of the Catholic Church in their country of assignment. When it comes time for a bishop to be named in a given diocese, the Papal Nuncio is the one responsible for gathering information on the potential candidates, vetting said candidates and ultimately providing background and recommendations to the Congregation of Bishops at the Vatican who in turn make a final recommendation to the Holy Father.
When a priest becomes a bishop or a bishop is moved to a new diocese, they hear the news from the Papal Nuncio, on behalf of the Holy Father. No doubt Archbishop Ventura had many interesting conversations in our country, delivering news to our shepherds that would forever alter their life journey.
Now to the first question, "Who is Archbishop Luigi Ventura?"
65 years young this December, the Archbishop was born in Italy and became a priest of Brescia at the age of 24. He worked for many years in the Vatican's Secretariat of State in the 80's and early 90's. Appointed Archbishop in 1990, he served in several diplomatic posts, as Papal Nuncio to 3 African countries and Chile before his appointment to Canada in 2001. Well known for his warm, pastoral approach, smiling along the way, he traveled from coast to coast in our country, developing many great friendships, a traveling pastor of sorts.
A complete tribute has been assembled by Fr. Tom Rosica and the folks at Salt & Light Television. They capably capture the essence of the man in a fitting video tribute and provide some additional background on the role of the Nuncio. Worth a look.
So to the departing Papal Nuncio, of whom many of us in Toronto had the good pleasure of meeting and working alongside, we give thanks and pray that a successor will bring the same love for the church, faith and people as witnessed by Archbishop Luigi Ventura.
Photos: Salt & Light Television
Sep 21, 2009
Photo Directory - you want to update pics of the hundreds of clergy, deacons and office staff for the Archdiocese of Toronto? No small task. Kristen Crawford in our department is capably coordinating a series of "photo shoots" for the hundreds who minister in our diocese. The final product will be ready by Easter 2010 (that's the plan). The directory will be an invaluable tool for those working for the church, clergy and the media.
Proactive media relations - there's never enough time in the day to devote to this but the last few weeks we've been working with a well known magazine on a feature around Archbishop Collins. Providing access for a journalist to spend a day with His Grace, chat with him over breakfast and learn more about the responsibilities of a bishop will, no doubt, be of interest to many. If all goes well, a story should be ready for the December issue. Stay tuned...
Kudos also to Paul Nazareth, Manager of Planned Giving & Major Gifts for the Archdiocese. He was quoted extensively in a piece in this weekend's Financial Post (and carried in other papers across the country) on "religious dues". Paul works tirelessly to ensure our Catholic community is aware of how we can infuse our faith into our financial planning. If you've ever thought about how to put this into action, connect with him. You'll be glad you did.
Other projects on the 2009 radar include another round of media training for priests and laity, taking a more in-depth look at the televised Sunday mass and a review of our crisis communications resources. All in all, plenty on the plate to keep us occupied.
Photos: Province of Ontario, Archdiocese of Toronto
Sep 17, 2009
Personally, I must say it is gratifying to see the initiative come to light. About 18 months ago, the Archbishop asked a representative of the Trillium Gift of Life, the agency tasked with coordinating organ donation in our province, to set up a meeting with our office to explore the issue more deeply.
Little did I know that would begin a journey that would culminate in the publication of a brochure, an education in organ & tissue donation, many drafts of materials and a final project, published by the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute that we hope will save lives.
The brochure can be accessed here, along with a series of other helpful resources that will educate Catholics from our faith perspective on the issue. This weekend, 200,000 copies of the brochure will be distributed in Catholic churches throughout the Archdiocese. It’s not just the Catholic community that is embracing the initiative.
The Canadian Council of Imams has mailed brochures from the Muslim perspective on donation to 45,000 Muslims in the region, and prayer calendars for Ramadan include pro-donation messages. The Toronto Board of Rabbis is also releasing an updated version of their brochure targeting Toronto's Jewish community.
In short, it’s time for all of us to have a conversation with our loved ones about organ & tissue donation and make our wishes known. It’s also time to act: taking the time to sign our organ donor cards and register to help facilitate the process. It doesn’t take but a few minutes and it could be one of the most impactful decisions one will ever make.
Sr. Bridget Nazareth and Deacon Mike Hayes don’t need to read the brochure. They’re living the experience. In need of a liver and her health deteriorating fast, Sr. Bridget was one of 325 on the waiting list for an organ donation. She soon turned to the church bulletin with an anonymous plea for an organ donor. After reading the request in the parish communication vehicle, Deacon Mike sent a simple email to his pastor: “I have a Catholic liver and anybody is welcome to it.” Amazingly, six others were ready to step forward and offer their liver for a woman they had never met.
Thus began a journey of faith, hope, recovery and friendship for Sr. Bridget and Deacon Mike. You can read about their incredible journey in a piece penned by the Catholic Register this past summer and accessible here.
The Lo family has experienced organ donation from a completely different perspective. They lost their son Johnny in a workplace accident in the summer of 2007, a 28 year old man with great potential ahead of him. Yet in their time of grief, the family decided that organ donation would allow Johnny’s legacy to live on for years to come. Today, a healthy member of our community has Johnny Lo to thank for his a new lease on life. In fact, in many cases organs from one individual can be used to save up to 7 others.
Every day, throughout our province, families are faced with difficult decisions as they journey with a loved one in their final days or hours. Earlier this year, I attended an inter-faith breakfast at Queen’s Park where we heard many more compelling stories of organ donation including a father speaking of the tragedy of grasping with the murder of his son only to come to realize that the best way to honour him would be to ensure his organs would bring new life to someone suffering. The ultimate final act of one’s own life bringing new hope and direction to another.
Putting together a brochure from the Catholic perspective was something that took great time and effort. There are many complex issues that come with organ & tissue donation and we wanted to ensure the information presented was both clear and accurate.
The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI) was a natural fit to publish the educational brochure. Dr. Moira McQueen is widely respected across the country and has extensive experience in the area of bioethics. She is a great resource both for us here in the Archdiocese and for the secular media who call on her regularly for her expertise on a variety of topics.
In addition to Dr. McQueen, we enlisted several other experts to assist and review material produced: Dr. Bill Sullivan, a family doctor here in Toronto, former Director of the CCBI and currently a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, a group of worldwide experts that review and advise the Vatican on life issues.
Dr. Hazel Markwell, the Director of the Centre for Clinical Ethics, also gave generously of her time and talent. She works with St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care and Providence Healthcare to enable members of the medical community to identify and resolve ethical issues which arise in the clinical setting. She is in great demand as a guest lecturer across the country for those in the medical profession dealing with the myriad of issues that arise in providing day to day care for patients.
Archbishop Collins provided a wise pastoral perspective to the publication as well, having met with numerous medical experts here in Toronto and engaging the team in healthy and constructive dialogue as the brochure evolved.
It should be noted that there are still some areas where there is not unanimous agreement when discussing organ donation – most notably, determining the “definition” of death. These areas of concern are noted in the brochure and are part of a frank discussion. The final version that you will see in your local Catholic Church is about draft #14 – needless to say, much care went into putting together such an important resource.
Let’s not forget that today in our province, nearly 1,700 people are waiting for an organ transplant. In 2008, 81 people died waiting. They could be a family member, a friend, the person sitting next to you at church this weekend.
We pray this multi-faith initiative is the beginning of a new wave of awareness and action from people who are motivated to foster a culture of life. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI and his encyclical Deus Caritas Est,
“Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.”
It’s time to open our eyes and our hearts to organ donation. Let's act today!
Photos: Catholic Register, Archdiocese of Toronto, CNN
Sep 15, 2009
While you see, I wasn't exactly front and centre with the Pontiff, more accurately 2 km away but with the mood at Downsview that day, I really did feel like I was sitting across from him. The palpable buzz when his helicopter landed; the rush to catch a glimpse of the Popemobile driving by. The feeling one gets when they are in the middle of an historical moment is pretty special (at least when your Mom reminds you several times that it's history in the making!!)
You can still find many of the documents surrounding that historical Papal Visit online at a special archived section of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website. If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, you can check out the homily at the Downsview Mass, the Holy Father's remarks in his meeting with priests in Toronto and many more texts from the national visit.
Sep 10, 2009
A new season of Lectio Divina or "divine reading" with Archbishop Collins begins this Sunday at 7 p.m. at St. Michael's Cathedral. If you haven't experienced Lectio Divina to date, it's worth a visit. Consider it a spiritual reboot of sorts, the opportunity to take a small piece of scripture, reflect on it and try to apply it to our day to day lives. The Archbishop does a wonderful job of bringing the words off the page and to life for all in attendance.
The 2009/2010 monthly series will focus on the parables of Jesus and this weekend begins with Matthew 13:44-52. If you can't make it to St. Michael's Cathedral on Sunday, fear not. We post the archives to a special section of the Archdiocesan website. For Salt & Light Television subscribers, check your local listings as the Lectio Divina is broadcast numerous times in their rotation.
A shout out to the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board as they begin the school year and open a new school close to our hearts - Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School in Brampton. With 350 students to start, the school has already got its website up and running complete with photos from their first day of classes.
It's not often students have the chance to attend a school named after someone who is still with us. Let's hope they take some time to learn more about the life of Cardinal Ambrozic, who this past summer, celebrated 54 years of service to the priesthood. Host of World Youth Day 2002, a shepherd who helped elect our current Pope Benedict, he's seen a lot in his time as priest, bishop, archbishop and Cardinal.
The students might also gain even more appreciation for their new school when they reflect on the fact that long before his days as a member of the clergy, Aloysius Ambrozic finished his high school education at displaced persons' camps in Austria. A man with a passion for studies, history and a great love of faith, let's pray that the students traveling the halls of the new high school will have the same dedication and commitment to their faith.
At the same time, we also offer our prayers for our retired Cardinal. It's no secret that he's battled his share of health issues in recent years and we can do our part by offering prayers in his name. May this new institution take pride in its namesake not just in its first days of being but for many years to come.
Sep 7, 2009
These are mainly poor and scattered communities in the Canadian North, isolated from their neighbors because of geography and the extreme cold of the long winter season. These are missions located in the hinterlands which cannot be reached except by plane or by log truck. These are mission churches still heated by old wood-fuelled stoves. These are missions without running water and the amenities of life.
These are missions where families constantly struggle to cover the basics such as food and shelter and clothing because opportunities for work and jobs are scarce. Sometimes missionaries have to travel more than 100 kilometres each way to celebrate the Eucharist or to preside at a funeral service. Most often, there are too few missionaries available to bring the Good News of the Lord to the small mission communities.
The book tells the story of Molly and Deacon Bill Callaghan’s experiences in the first nations community of Sandy Lake in northern Ontario. In this 258-page memoir, Deacon Bill and Molly share the joys and difficulties of day-to-day mission life, celebrate their encounters of faith, and invite readers to reflect with them on their love of God and of the community they served.
Consider this paragraph where Molly speaks of the reality these native Canadians face in their isolated community:
"There had been no resident priest in Sandy Lake for five years when we arrived. Deacon Walter had died in February of 1990. No marriages and few baptisms had been celebrated since then. Bill and I had been in the rectory less than an hour when the phone started ringing and people began coming to the door. They were so hungry for the sacraments!"
Sep 2, 2009
On September 21, Bishop Richard Grecco will be installed as the new Bishop of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Bishop Grecco has faithfully served the Archdiocese of Toronto since 2002, spending the majority of his time responsible for the central region of the diocese, with more than 100 parishes to collaborate with.
The "smiling Bishop" also held the responsibility of providing pastoral care for the hundreds of lay movements active in our diocese as well as the many ethnic communities present in one of the most diverse dioceses in the world.
Earlier this week, more than 400 guests gathered at the historic St. Paul's Basilica for a mass of thanksgiving and celebration in gratitude for Bishop Grecco's service to the Archdiocese. It's always amazing to be part of these special liturgical celebrations. With more than 175 priests in attendance, you won't find many other celebrations where the responses of the congregation remind you what it's like to be in full, active participation with the liturgy, coming together in song and prayer, raising voices to the heavens above.
Bishop Grecco's gracious homily (you can download an audio file here) offered impressions of his time as auxiliary bishop as well as giving thanks for the many workers in the vineyard, from those working in the business side of the church to lay movements, priests and bishops.
Toronto's loss is Prince Edward Island's gain as Bishop Grecco makes his way to a province with one diocese, the birthplace of confederation and home to some of the friendliest people you'll find from coast to coast. As an avid fisherman, no doubt Bishop Grecco will find plenty of spots to enjoy this pastime. In fact, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, tracked the bishop down on vacation at a remote fishing lodge to give him word of his appointment. That Papal Nuncio - he just seems to have a GPS to track priests down when he needs to speak with them.
We give thanks for all that Bishop Grecco has contributed to the church in the Archdiocese of Toronto and know that he will cast his nets far and wide, shepherding his flock faithfully and pastorally for years to come!
Photos: Emanuel Pires, Archdiocese of Toronto