Regional news

 — June 30, 200630 juin 2006


A Prayer Retreat on the theme of “Gift to Each other: Exploring our Treasures of Worship and Prayer” was organized by the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and held at Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon, May 25-27, 2006. This ecumenical exercise offered participants the opportunity to experience the treasures of worship and private devotion which are distinctive of each tradition. Each worship session was led by a member of the tradition to which it belongs, with explanations of the service’s meaning and a chance to ask questions. Participants were also introduced to ways of private prayer and devotion characteristic of several traditions, with explanations and private time to “try out” different types of prayer. Presenters included Fr. André Lalach of the Ukranian Catholic Church; Vern Ratzlaff and Anita Jantz of Mennonite Church of Saskatchewan; Rev. Gary Waugh and Rev. Robin Schmidt of the Foursquare Gospel Church; Rev. Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, Retreat Coordinator of the Prairie Centre of Ecumenism. (Prairie Centre for Ecumenism).

Members of the Catholic-Mennonite Dialogue met at Christ the King Parish in Winnipeg on Feb. 23 to appraise the insights gleaned from their exchange of viewpoints, along with an overview of the topics covered since their initial session in June 2000. The most recent round of discussions began in 2004 and has focused on the international Catholic-Mennonite statement, “Called Together to be Peacemakers.” The Mennonites are one of the “historic peace churches,” which means that the commitment to peace is essential to their self-definition. The Catholic Church takes the promotion of peace as “belonging to the innermost nature of the church.” The international dialogue participants considered this statement as defining that the two faith traditions can give witness together to the Gospel. Members of the Winnipeg Dialogue reported on their current activities and spoke about how they appreciated the spiritual base that has sustained this dialogue as well as the mutuality and the amiable atmosphere that were conducive to the success of the dialogue. Rev Helmut Harder suggested that .”.. perhaps it is time to widen the circle, to develop cluster groups that will meet beyond this dialogue and make their own determinations.” It was agreed that groups of twelve would be organized in three or four areas of the city, and that the members of the Winnipeg Dialogue will participate in their development. (Prairie Messenger)


Buddhist, Aboriginal, Daoist, Protestant and Catholic believers who have used the Loyola Retreat Centre in Guelph are challenging a by-law that allows for the building of a shopping centre alongside the prayer centre and in between Guelph’s Protestant and Catholic cemeteries. The light, noise and commercial atmosphere of a Wal-Mart will substantially interfere with the spiritual experience of individuals from a wide range of religions who visit the 240-hectare Jesuit property. Fr Jim Profit, superior of the Guelph Jesuit Community, says the idea of a coalition of different religions coming to the defence of a Catholic retreat centre and claiming it is important to their spiritual practice is exactly what should be expected for a successful Ignatian centre. “That’s the reason why we have always opened up this property for anybody who wants to use it, especially people of other faiths who are explicit in their understanding that this relationship is somehow a relationship with the divine,” said Profit. The court was expected to hear the full case by late spring. (The Catholic Register)

The Interfaith Educational Series hosted by Scarboro Missions in Toronto held an April 25 session on the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual tradition and on May 2 looked at Youth, Diversity and Interfaith Dialogue. On May 9, the topic was: A Vision for a Multifaith Toronto. On May 16: Introducing the Green Rule Poster – Interfaith and Ecology and on May 23: Exploring Interfaith Marriage. E-mail: [interfaith [at] scarboromissions [dot] ca]. (The Catholic Register)

Christians from various churches gathered for the dedication of Evangel Hall’s brand new $ 13-million facility in downtown Toronto on February 5. The new six-storey facility which replaces the building the mission had been using since 1913 includes 84 low-income housing units, a medical clinic, kitchen, counselling space, thrift store and a chapel. About 50-200 people drop in for meals daily, with more gathering for fellowship, worship, addiction support, community dinners and special outings and activities. (Presbyterian Record)

Ontario recently banned all forms of religious arbitration in family matters, including Sharia law. Bill 27 was passed Feb. 14, making it illegal for religious bodies to hold their own court to decide matters related to family law. Such practices were allowed in Ontario since 1991, and had been used most extensively in Jewish circles. (Presbyterian Record)


Representatives of the Quebec office of the Canadian Jewish Congress and members of the Quebec City Jewish community met with Cardinal Marc Oullet at his residence at the end of February. The delegation was led by the regional officer of the Congress, Jeffrey Boro, together with the president of the National Executive, Dr Victor Goldbloom, Rabbi Leigh Lerner of Temple Emmanu-El Beth Shalom in Montreal and the Consul General of Israel in Montreal, Marc Attali. “Cardinal Ouellet deserves the credit of initiating this remarkable coming together of representatives from our different faiths and we want to express our gratitude to him and to the Quebec City Archdiocese for the warm welcome they accorded us,” Mr Boro said. “For ourselves, we look forward to the future development of this promising dialogue,” he added. Cardinal Ouellet’s invitation to the Jewish community followed suit with celebrations around the world of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Nostra Aetate, a document which marked a turning point in modern Jewish-Catholic relations. (Translated from Proximo)

Mardi Gras was celebrated ecumenically in Huntingdon on February 25th. Members of the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Anglican and United Churches came together to have fun and enjoy themselves prior to the Lenten season. Since its initiation three years ago, this event has enjoyed the active support of the community. (Montreal Anglican)

The South Shore Ecumenical Theatre Group, Together 2000, put on its annual Christian musical production April 21-22. “Candle in the Rain” was held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in St-Lambert with proceeds benefiting Action Refugiés Montréal, a ministry supported by the Anglican and Presbyterian churches of Montreal. (Catholic Times)

The Intercultural Institute of Montreal organized an evening May 5, of presentation and discussion of issue 150 of their publication, InterCulture, on the topic “Feminism and Cultural Challenges.” This issue would like to turn around the reductionist thinking which sees women only as victims and weakens their own self-image as integral parts of human and other groups. The resource persons for this event and co-editors of issue No 150 were: Kalpana Das, director of the IIM and Frédérique Appfel-Marglin, an anthropologist from Smith College.


The Proclamation 2006 Symposium, held at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS, May 16-18, brought together exegetes, theologians, clergy and laity in discussion on the relevance of the Bible for contemporary church life. This conference was sponsored by the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) as part of its 2006 centenary celebrations. It hoped to inspire, inform and encourage “committed Christians who want to learn,” said Revd Wayne McCarther, Regional Director of the CBC in Nova Scotia. Plenary sessions led by noted professors and workshops aimed at practical applications covered topics such as the role of the Bible in church growth and mission; the contribution made by artists; the education of children, youth and adults; the recruiting and training of leaders, etc. (Translated from Aujourd’hui Credo).

Professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick and expert on family violence, Nancy Nason-Clark will direct a Canada-US project aimed at providing pastors, rabbis and other clerics with the resources to respond to family violence in a way that is in keeping with their faith tradition and with the social science research on the issue. Called the Religion and Violence E-learning or RAVE, the project will create a training model for pastors and congregations of all faiths to help fight abuse. “In the end there will be a whole package of materials that will be graduated to the interest and knowledge level of the religious leaders,” said Nason-Clark. Pastors often don’t hear the cries for help, either because they don’t want to rock the boat of their congregations or because they don’t know enough about family violence to read the danger signs an abused woman presents. The RAVE project is expected to take at least four years to develop. Test sites will be created in Calgary as well as in several US States. (Catholic Register)

Moving Forward Together is a Fredericton interfaith group that wants to bridge the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people through dialogue and understanding. At a recent meeting, more than twenty aboriginals and non-aboriginals shared prayer and discussion. The meeting was called Building a future with First Nations people and was the group’s second annual Lenten event. The residential schools caused a great deal of pain, the scars of which are still visible today. “It’s about accepting responsibility and being willing to sit down with aboriginal people and share the pain on that, ” said Pam Breau, from Sts. John and Paul parish in New Maryland. Breau said, “We need to do more than say we’re sorry. We need to educate ourselves about the history and the kinds of things that are needed to restore aboriginals to their rightful place in Canadian society.” “We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes,” added Charlotte Campbell from Marysville United Church who feels a calling to the work. “It has heightened my sense of connection with people who are different. It’s challenged me to meet people who I ordinarily wouldn’t in my everyday life, ” she added. (The Catholic Register)

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