Nun has found her happy place

Written by Vanessa Santilli in The Catholic Register on April 26

In Sr. Anna Chan’s earlier career in retail management, she sought happiness through a love of fine clothes, shoes and bags.

Road-Journey“I was looking for happiness,” said Chan, “but I was looking in the wrong place.”

She has found the right place and today, her life is much different.

Chan is foundress of the Servants of the Cross, a journey she began at a retreat in Ottawa in 2003 when she felt God calling her to consecrated life.

“When I felt that call, I had been on a nun run and nothing fit, so I asked, ‘Lord, where are you calling me?’ For some reason, through a prompting of the Holy Spirit, I went to the Companions of the Cross and spoke to the vocations director.”

Chan asked whether the Companions had ever considered a sisterhood. The answer was yes — but that nothing had been started as of yet. Continue reading

In remote Arctic town, religious sisters take to the airwaves

An aerial shot of the community of Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories. (Photo courtesy of the Northwest Territories Department of Municipal and Community Affairs)

An aerial shot of the community of Fort Good Hope in the Northwest Territories. (Photo courtesy of the Northwest Territories Department of Municipal and Community Affairs)

Written by Vanessa Santilli in The Catholic Register on April 26

Approximately 800 km northwest of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories is Fort Good Hope, a remote, mostly First Nations community through which the mighty Mackenzie River flows on its way to the Arctic Ocean.

It’s where Sisters Joan Liss and Pauline Girodat have called home and ministered for the past 12 years. Part of their ministry in the vast, isolated region of forest and tundra is to bring the widespread Catholic community together.

Sisters Pauline Girodat, left, and Joan Liss who work at the Fort Good Hope Mission in the Northwest Territories, host Church Hour at local radio station CBQE. (Photo courtesy of Sisters Girodat and Liss)

Sisters Pauline Girodat, left, and Joan Liss who work at the Fort Good Hope mission in the Northwest Territories, host Church Hour at local radio station CBQE. (Photo courtesy of Sisters Girodat and Liss)

The two School Sisters of Notre Dame have been taking to the airwaves to accomplish this. Each week, the sisters host Church Hour, a weekly radio program that got its start when Liss and Girodat were approached by local station CBQE soon after their arrival at the Fort Good Hope mission.

“That’s been a blessing for us to communicate with the people here,” says Liss, who has spent the past two decades working in the Northwest Territories. “We pray for various intentions, we read the Sunday Gospel and they get the Sunday reflection in case they weren’t at Church,” she says with a laugh.

Continue reading

ISIS committing ‘cultural genocide’ by damaging ancient relics

From left, Sascha Priewe, Clemens Reichel and Patrick Graham take part in a panel discussion on the cultural genocide taking place at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The discussion took place April 14 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)

From left, Sascha Priewe, Clemens Reichel and Patrick Graham take part in a panel discussion on the cultural genocide taking place at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The discussion took place April 14 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)

Written by Vanessa Santilli in The Catholic Register on April 20

TORONTO – Not only is the Islamic State causing catastrophic human tragedy throughout Syria and Iraq, it is engaged in a “cultural genocide” as it destroys anything in its way that is not part of its idea of Islam, said Sascha Priewe.

The Islamic State’s desire for an Islamic caliphate in the Mideast includes the extermination of cultural heritage as it destroys antiquities in Iraq and Syria that don’t correspond with its ideals, said Priewe, managing director of three of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Centres of Discovery.

“The continued existence of these beacons of civilization have no use in the Islamic State (so) they loot and sell antiquities to finance their war chest,” Priewe told an audience of about 200 people at an April 14 panel discussion at the ROM in downtown Toronto.

The panel, featuring Priewe, ROM’s associate curator of Near Eastern Archeology Dr. Clemens Reichel and journalist Patrick Graham, examined the losses and significance of the destruction of cultural heritage by the Islamic State in the cradle of civilization.

To illustrate the reality taking place, a short video clip was aired showing members of the Islamic State knocking over ancient statues and artifacts and smashing them to pieces with sledgehammers. The clip was taken from a video made by the media-savvy organization. Continue reading

Tripping the limelight fantastic

Donalda Weaver has helped change lives by bringing performing arts to Vancouver’s youth

Written by Vanessa Santilli in CPA Magazine on March 1

I went from singing alone in my bedroom to performing in front of hundreds of people and even appearing on TV. I’ve worked with directors and mentors who taught me about performing and who have had a huge impact on me.”

donalda

So goes just part of the testimony from a participant who said that Project Limelight, a free performing arts program for kids in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, changed her life.”It’s been miraculous to see some of the changes in the kids,” says Donalda Weaver.

Weaver, an accountant, and her sister, Maureen Webb, started the program to help foster self-esteem, confidence and community. At Project Limelight, young people are mentored and inspired by professional artists. The program culminates with a performance (there are two each year) in a professional venue with great costumes, sets and makeup.”It’s always a full house,” Weaver says. Continue reading

From fan to collector

Written by Vanessa Santilli on Bankrate Canada on Jan. 26

With the ongoing craze for all things superhero-related, being a “collector” is now mainstream. Fuelled by the onslaught of new superhero movies and the rise of related events, such as FanExpo (which brought more than 100,000 people to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre), it seems that disposable income or not, fans are spending more and more on this niche passion.

Fans dress as their favourite characters at Toronto's annual Fan Expo, which attracted more than 100,000 people this year. (Photo by Daniele Raimondo)

Fans dress as their favourite characters at Toronto’s annual Fan Expo, which attracted more than 100,000 people this year. (Photo by Daniele Raimondo)

But is it possible to be a collector on a budget? Here are some tips from two collectors on how to navigate the often-costly world of collecting:

1. Narrow your collection 

For Ivan Tabac, his passion for collecting comes in the form of Batman collectibles from the original TV series. His collection of approximately 4,000 items ranges from vintage T-Shirts and original photographs, to costumes, games, advertisements, watches and more.

While he admits it’s not always easy to collect on a budget, he suggests fans start by concentrating on something specific.

“If you want to try and keep control over what you’re spending, you need to focus,” says Tabac, an accountant and co-founder of AJAG Professional Development in Richmond Hill, Ont. “Otherwise, you can still make a nice collection out of bits and pieces of everything, but you’ll have less control of the amount of money you’ll need to spend.” Continue reading

This Christmas, shop fair trade

An artisan from Manos Amigas in Lima, Peru, creates an ornament that will be sold through fair trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages. (Photo by Jonathan Bowman)

An artisan from Manos Amigas in Lima, Peru, creates an ornament that will be sold through fair trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages. (Photo by Jonathan Bowman)

Written by Vanessa Santilli in The Catholic Register on Dec. 21

In Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he wrote, “It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral — and not simply economic — act. Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise.”

As we spend more than usual at Christmastime, it’s important for Catholics to consider where their money is going and what they are supporting through their hard-earned dollars. Shopping fair trade is one way of having a global impact this Christmas.

“Fair trade is a direct trading relationship where not only is fair pay the standard, but also safe working environments, equality for women, sustainable orders and a commitment to long-term relationships,” said Holly deGraaf, director of retail operations and public relations for Ten Thousand Villages, a retailer that sells fair trade products ranging from jewellery and furniture to coffee and toys.

By working with marginalized communities around the world and paying them a fair wage for their work, workers are able to have a good quality of life, food for their kids and education, adds deGraaf. Continue reading

Buying a car?

Written by Vanessa Santilli for Bankrate Canada on Nov. 24

Buying a new car can be tricky and overwhelming. However, a free guide — The Seven Deadly Sins of Car Buying That Could Cost You Dearly, and How to Avoid Them — aims to demystify the process and help consumers get the best deals.

new-car1-3Author Viraf Baliwalla, an auto-buying consultant and president of Automall Network, teaches a course on how to buy a car at Humber College in Toronto and Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont. His guide provides an insider perspective aimed at helping consumers make informed choices.

“I think it’s a bit of an eye-opener and an education,” says Baliwalla, whose business started as an online classifieds website back in 1999. “There’s a lot that happens in the car business that most people are not aware of.” Continue reading

Brothers’ asthma means a life of ‘little scares’

Written by Vanessa Santilli for the Ontario Lung Association on Nov. 9

Gabriel Roosevelt-Jackman was a tiny three-week-old baby when he made his first am- bulance trip to the hospital emergency department. Parents Daniel and Ann thought it was a bad cold but Gabriel actually had a serious respiratory infection — and severe allergic asthma.

The Roosevelt-Jackman family (from left) Lahreena, Daniel, Gabriel, Ann, Solomon and Callista. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)

The Roosevelt-Jackman family (from left) Lahreena, Daniel, Gabriel, Ann, Solomon and Callista. (Photo by Vanessa Santilli)

Now 13 years old, Gabriel’s asthma is so difficult to control that it often prevents him from participating in his favourite sports – basketball, soccer and football – something that doesn’t usually happen to children with less severe asthma. His seven-year-old brother Solomon’s asthma is less problematic but even he knows that he’ll have to miss out on gym if he doesn’t have his emergency inhaler. “Sometimes, I really want to have the chance to grow out of it,” says Solomon.

For the Roosevelt-Jackman family, having two children with asthma means visits to the respiratory clinic at SickKids every two weeks, lots of medication and lots of uncertainty about when the next asthma flare-up might occur. Continue reading

Helping researchers pick winners

Written by Vanessa Santilli for the Ontario Lung Association on Nov. 9

Predicting whether potential new asthma drugs will be effective is all in a day’s work for Dr. Paul O’Byrne, principal investigator for the AllerGen Clinical Investigator Collaborative (CIC).

Dr. Paul O'Byrne

He leads a nationwide network of researchers who use a specific clinical model of “allergen-induced, airway responses” to try to understand the way asthma develops, including the role of environmental allergens. That model has also proved highly effective in evaluating the effectiveness of new asthma medications.

“It’s particularly useful to large pharmaceutical companies as well as small biotech companies who are trying to decide whether to invest the huge sums involved in getting a new drug to market,” says Dr. O’Byrne, who is also executive director of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. Continue reading

Plan beyond the wedding

weddingWritten by Vanessa Santilli in The Catholic Register on Nov. 1

If you’re tying the knot, it’s time to draft an estate plan.

“Marriage is a life-changing experience from an emotional and social perspective, but also from a legal perspective,” says Toronto-based lawyer Eric Bundgard.

Newlyweds should have a financial plan and they shouldn’t rely on a pre-existing will. Getting married revokes previous wills, says Bundgard.

While estate planning might not seem important for young couples, situations can change quickly as assets are accumulated in a marriage. And with the trend today for young couples to delay marriage until careers are established, a proper estate plan is even more essential. Continue reading